Northeast Tarrant

SOMA Grapevine features glassblower, blacksmith and newcomer foundry artisan

GRAPEVINE If thise who appreciate art are looking for a hot and historic time, SOMA Grapevine is the place, according to blacksmith Will Frary.

Frary is one of a colony of artists who work out of a city-promoted colonnade in Downtown Historic Grapevine. Others include a glassblower, pottery maker and the latest addition, a foundry artisan.

“It’s all about the hot arts,” said Frary, noting his forging tools, the foundry crucible, the glassblowing ovens and the pottery kiln. “I doubt there’s anything in the country like us.”

SOMA Grapevine is a collaboration of neighboring artists who came together a year ago to create a common name for all the businesses at 701 South Main Street. They retained their individual names, but for marketing purposes collectively call themselves SOMA Grapevine — South on Main Street Artists in Grapevine.

SOMA offers a vibrant lineup of working artists’ studios and galleries. On any day of the week, one might find artists working at their respective crafts. Visitors to the galleries and studios can enjoy watching and meeting the artists.

One of the oldest residents of the courtyard adjacent to the Grapevine Vintage Railroad is David Gappa, owner of Vetro Glassblowing Studio & Gallery, who collaborated with the city to open his business on South Main Street in 1999.

Since then, it has grown into a glass gallery and state-of-the-art glassblowing facility.

“I’ve just had a great run,” Gappa said.

Later came the Grapevine Blacksmith Shop and Holder Dane Gallery & Arts Studio, which is owned by Pat Dane Bodnyk and features pottery made there as well as paintings, jewelry and contemporary wood sculpture. Bodnyk’s site is also home to The Teaching Studio.

But the newest star is Linda Lewis-Roark and her Grapevine Foundry and Fine Arts. Tools of her trade include a crucible full of molten bronze from which she fashions bronze statues and other pieces of art.

Lewis-Roark can’t believe her good fortune. It’s a long 40-year road that began when she was born on a farm near Lubbock.

“I was raised in a redneck culture where art is not important,” she said. “But I loved art my whole life. I drew fence posts and cowboy hats so I wouldn’t look like an oddball.”

Her interest in art led her to a special effects school in Pittsburgh and eventually to a love of sculpture.

Lewis-Roark returned to Lubbock and found a foundry job where she did mold-making and things besides sculpting. In 2004, she decided her artistic future was waiting for her in North Texas.

“I came here to pursue my art,” Lewis-Roark said.

Her various jobs culminated with teaching sculpture to youth in a barn in Argyle, which she loved. Then, she learned the city was looking to expand its art offerings at the South Main colonnade. The city eagerly welcomed her.

“And here I am,” said Lewis-Roark, whose studio grand opening was Nov. 8. “It’s been explosive ever since.”

The sculptor, who creates everything from bronze horse heads to life-size statues, said her craft “comes effortlessly to me.”

“It’s a gift from God, that’s for sure,” Lewis-Roark said, adding that she enjoys her role in what is considered a male-dominated profession.

Gappa said Lewis-Roark adds to their collective offering that allows visitors “to be completely surrounded by fire.”

“We are just super excited about the synergy that has been evolving in the Grapevine area,” the glassblower said. “It’s incredible.”

Frary also said his newest neighbor is a welcome addition.

“Linda’s really put a lot of new energy into this place,” the blacksmith said. “We’ve got the birth of something really neat happening here. It’s going to be neat to watch.”