Wildlife in Bronze Glow at Nepenthe Gallery

Wildlife in Bronze Glow at Nepenthe Gallery

Sexy Otter, by David Turner

Sexy Otter, by David Turner

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Otters are secretive and elusive, but “Sexy Otter” is reclining in a seductive, odalisque pose front and center at the Nepenthe Gallery. 

The otter is a cast bronze sculpture that, along with five others, attracted around 50 admiring fans on Dec. 7 to the gallery’s weekly wine and cheese reception.

Nepenthe is featuring sculptures by David Turner, who with his father, William, has created over 500 limited edition bronzes and over 175 public commissions now in over 130 places across the country. One of their wild geese sculptures stands in Limerick, Ireland, and they shipped an alligator to the Swiss Alps. Their pieces range from mice to dolphins, from bison to bears. The pieces at Nepenthe are priced from $480 to $8,600.

The show also includes a great blue heron, a blue crab, a scallop, a stalking fox and “Fussy Duckling.” The Turners, who have a foundry, gallery and studio in Onley on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, have specialized in wildlife sculptures since 1983. The pair captures “the beauty and motion of wildlife in bronze,” says their website. 

“Art and marine life are our passion,” Nepenthe Gallery co-owner Carrie Garland told the attendees. On the Turners’ pieces, “They are special,” she said. 

Special Guest

The evening’s special guest was Dr. Derek Aday, Dean and Director of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) at the College of William and Mary. Citing “global environmental change,” he said, “We are at a critical period for coastal communities,” adding, “We are your solutions partner.”

VIMS, based in Gloucester, Virginia, conducts research on ocean and estuarine science, educates scientists and provides scientific advice to policy makers, industry and the public. Chartered in 1940, VIMS is one of the largest marine research and education centers in the country. Their 500 employees research topics like shellfish aquaculture, water quality, habitat restoration, sea level rise and coastal resilience. VIMS returns “$4 for every $1 the state invests in VIMS,” Aday maintained.

VIMS provides scientific advice to local wetlands boards, including Fairfax County’s, when the boards consider permit applications for certain land-disturbing activities and construction near tidal water bodies.

Nepenthe Gallery

Carrie and Jim Garland, high school sweethearts, opened the Nepenthe Gallery in 2022 in the Hollin Hall Shopping Center at 7918 Fort Hunt Road. Nepenthe in Greek means “a place of no sorrow.” The gallery offers a range of paintings, sculptures, drawings and photography from many genres, including works by master photographer Renee C. Gage. Jim oversees the gallery’s frame shop.

The Turners

The Turners use what’s called a “lost wax process of bronze casting.” This requires multiple steps involving a clay model, a rubber and plaster mold, hot wax, a ceramic mold and bronze ingots melted at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

In Washington, D.C., their public commissions include a flying bald eagle at the National Zoo; a bald eagle and two eaglets at the Daughters of the American Revolution Constitution Hall; and a heron pair at Hamilton’s Restaurant.

Others include “Whitetail Bucks” (life size), at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville; “School of Lookdown Fish” at the Virginia Aquarium, Virginia Beach; “Dolphin Fountain,” (life size) Mystic, Connecticut; “Black Bear Family,” Philadelphia Zoo; “Baby Giraffe,” Detroit Zoo, Michigan; and “Dance of the Dolphins,” Ocean City, Maryland.

Alexandria resident Stetson Tinkham, a former VIMS Board member, went to the reception to “keep up with VIMS,” he said. Melissa Narins attended “to support our community, enjoy art and learn about VIMS,” she said. “Nepenthe is a great addition to our community and here we can see beautiful art.”

Photos by Glenda Booth

Derek Aday and Susan Maples from VIMS

Stalking fox, by David Turner

An enthusiastic, art-loving crowd

Jim and Carrie Garland, Nepenthe Gallery owners

Scallop, on loan to Nepenthe; sells for about $200 in the Turners’ Onley gallery.

Mallards sculpture at the Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum, Virginia Beach, by David Turner.

David Turner with a bald eagle head made of architectural fiberglass, part of a 40-foot sculpture for the American Revolution Museum, Yorktown, Virginia