Nicole Wilhelm photos
Customers are often dazzled by the lights and bright colors of Iago’s illuminating artwork, which inspires both awe and serenity. These glass art pieces (above) were made by various artists from throughout the U.S.—from Burnsville, N.C., to towns in the New England region.
The unassuming Main Street entrance to Iago art gallery in downtown Blowing Rock belies its true nature. Perhaps that’s why its original owners went for the Shakespearean reference as a namesake.
You’d never guess that beyond its plain, brick wall front is a showcase of art from around the world, including flowering glass chandeliers, glittering necklaces and earrings, exotic scarves, cast iron tea kettles, and calligraphy brushes. It’s a vibrant mix of global artistry and Appalachian craftsmanship.
While some art galleries in the High Country of North Carolina specialize in showcasing only a certain type of artwork or only local artists, Iago owners Doug Lacher and his wife Xiaodi Tang wanted to carry on the vision of the gallery’s previous owners (who moved to Blowing Rock from Baton Rouge, La.) as well as their own international aesthetics. The couple came to western North Carolina from Johannesburg, South Africa. Doug worked in Argentina and Australia, and Tang is from China, so between them, they’ve developed a wealth of knowledge about international and domestic artists, who supply the gallery with everything from glass globes from the Czech Republic to mosaic soaps and dichroic glass pendants from western North Carolina.
The gallery opened in late 2000 and a year later, the owners sold it to Lacher and Tang. The couple maintained relationships with artists from the previous owners and added new artists after seeing their work at craft shows, on the Internet, or from walk-in visits.
“Most of our suppliers are two- and three-person studios,” says Lacher, who has his own line of finely crafted wooden lamps that he sells at the gallery.
Iago also includes a Chihuly-esque glass chandelier from Ed Penny Baker of Arkansas, decorative handbags from California, and pendants from Anne Koplik, who supplies jewelry to the dancers on the hit TV show “Dancing With the Stars.” There are also wine glass-shaped radiometers, paintings, wood sculptures, decorative clocks and wall hangings.
Iago gallery is located at 1165 Main Street in downtown Blowing Rock. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays year-round. For more information, call 828.295.0033 or go online to www.iagoblowingrock.com.