Although it’s not the featured artwork, the Red Oak-Black Oak tree in front of The Treehouse Gallery in Twisp is, arguably, a masterpiece. Lush and sprawling, its sturdy trunk firmly rooted, the tree inspired Barrie Bernier and Garth Mudge to purchase the Glover Street property it grew on about five years ago.
“We bought the property to save the tree,” Bernier said. “It’s the biggest plant we ever bought.”
Bernier subsequently built a residential/commercial structure on the piece of land, a building that was originally leased to a naturalist veterinarian and which is currently the home of The Treehouse Gallery, which features handblown glass work from local glass artists.
Mudge is the glassblower behind Winthrop Glassworks, so his functional artwork — beads, vases, tumblers, soap dispensers, platters — features prominently in The Treehouse Gallery’s clean, airy space. The works of glassblowers Sam Carlin at Lucid Glassworks (who studied under Mudge years ago), Masha Falkov, and the glassblowing couple Jeremy Newman and Allison Cianciabelli, are also displayed on the shelves.
Bernier and Mudge, whose studio in downtown Winthrop attracts visitors delighted to watch a glassblower at work, felt that Twisp, with its new Creative District designation and resulting increased visitor traffic, could benefit from more retail shops and galleries. “I picture a row of little houses full of art,” Bernier said. So when Natural Animal Wellness moved out of the space, Bernier established The Treehouse Gallery.
As The Treehouse Gallery gains traction as a drop-in gallery, Bernier said she is “enjoying the solitude.” Although the gallery is located in a quiet section of Glover Street that has both commercial and residential properties, visitors slowly seem to be discovering the tiny glass palace.
The gallery building, which was designed by Howard Cherrington of Integrated Design Concepts and built by Blackcap Builders Collective, consists of commercial space on the ground floor and a small apartment upstairs. “The idea was that an artist could live upstairs and have an open studio downstairs, for working and selling art,” Bernier said.
The “passive house” is set back off the street, with the giant oak providing shade and a bit of a privacy screen, without fully shielding the building from the street. It’s also for sale. But until the building changes ownership, The Treehouse Gallery will celebrate the ancient art of glassblowing, with all gallery proceeds contributing to the upkeep of the magnificent tree: the property’s true magnum opus.
Located at 214 S. Glover St., catty-corner to the Twisp Post Office, The Treehouse Gallery is open Friday-Sunday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., by appointment, or “on a whim,” Bernier says. Visit https://twispwa.com/listing/the-treehouse-gallery for more information.