After nearly a two-year hiatus, artist and craftsman Pierce Giltner has returned, and he is determined to reestablish his name in the Lowcountry art market. With a new solo show set to launch in December and an upcoming move to Daufuskie Island in April, big plans and bigger changes are on the horizon for the artist.
If you don't know Giltner, you might be more familiar with his art. The interior design of May River Excursions in Old Town Bluffton and the directional signs at Moreland Landing and Bluffton Oyster Factory Park are just a few examples.
However, Giltner is probably best known for his Gallery Without Walls that was on Calhoun Street, a literal wall-less, outdoor installation next to The Store where he exhibited his signature creations for more than six years.
Giltner's rustic, earthy style is dipped deep in Southern tradition. He takes reclaimed wood from abandoned tenet housing and shapes it into workable canvases to display his paintings of Blues musicians, tenet farmers, and other subjects.
"I don't have any formal training, so I guess I'm more of a folk artist," said Giltner. "I started out using salvaged wood because I didn't have any canvas to paint on. Now, I'm focusing on different, unique and rare."
Giltner has a background in construction, and had spent the past couple of years working in that field. After leaving it behind in June, he was unsure of what to do and where to go next, though it wasn't long before a new opportunity landed in his lap.
Giltner's next big step will be his jump over to Daufuskie Island, where he will be setting up a new Gallery Without Walls project in April. Giltner has partnered with Chase Allen, Daufuskie island artist and owner of the Iron Fish Gallery & Studio, and will be using his land for the new project.
Allen reached out to Giltner about the team-up, citing their mutual love for reclaimed art.
"His work is all in wood, mine's all in steel. There's a certain antique finish to the birth of our work," said Allen. "I'm attracted to the pieces he's made. He's a talented woodworker."
While this new project acts as the kick-start for Giltner's return, it doesn't come without a price. Giltner will be leaving his family behind in Bluffton to pursue this new challenge, though he ensures there will be plenty of visits in the meantime.
"It's going to be hard, and to be honest, I'm scared to death," Giltner said. "The biggest regrets in life are the risks you don't take, and to me, this is a calculated risk. I want to follow my dream as an artist, and I can't just give up."
To follow Giltner and his work, visit www.rusticinstallations.com.
Sam Posthuma of Bluffton is a freelance writer and production assistant for The Bluffton Sun.