There’s an incredibly jovial and colorful ray of light that glistens over Carlyn Galerie at just the right time of day. The front windows of the Preston Center store welcome the sunset, which glows through the array of handblown glass that the store showcases, warming the store’s diamond light. In addition to glass, Carlyn Galerie carries jewelry, home décor, clothing and accessories—all of which mimic that same vibrant glow even in Dallas’ bleakest months. Cindi Ray, co-owner of Carlyn Galerie, greets you with a smile that is just as warm.
Ray was an artist before becoming a businesswoman. She studied ceramics and weaving at Scripps College in California before making her way to Dallas. It was in 1985 that Ray attended the American Craft Council show in Dallas when she had a feeling. “This is what I want to do. I want to open an American Craft Gallery like this,” she said to her husband. She has never lost that feeling.
Since 1989, Ray and her daughter, Wendy Dunham, have utilized both their eye for design and business background to coown the nationally recognized shop. The mother-daughter duo has dedicated their work to finding the most talented American artisans, whether they are notable talent or up-and coming creatives. “It’s their work that matters,” says Ray, noting that above all, she looks for quality and the innovative use of materials. “They’re all so different,” she explains of the artists they showcase, “but they all complement each other.”
When Ray first started, Carlyn Galerie carried mostly ceramics and weaving, a gentle nod to her background. “But I became so enamored with the glass,” she says. “It’s the joy of the color and transparency.” The gallery is named for Ray’s other daughter and Dunham’s sister, Carlyn Ray. She too, became so enamored with glass that she studied with masters in Italy as well as under legendary glass artist Dale Chihuly. In short order, Carlyn Ray became a distinguished glassblower in her own right. In addition to her work carried in the gallery, Carlyn Ray has her own glassblowing studio in the Design District. It is no wonder that handblown glass is the most popular medium in the gallery.
Cindi Ray is thrilled to see so many young glassblowers doing such phenomenal work. She remembers the work of the Chihuly generation, followed by his apprentices, and now the young and fresh artists who are making new waves in the glass world. When asked if she has a favorite artist, Ray says: “I really can’t. There are just too many that I love!”
That same dedication of showcasing the best American artists is brilliantly shown through Carlyn Galerie’s exhibitions held throughout each year. Curated by medium, the exhibits feature six to 10 different artists in a variety of styles. The exhibitions are open to the public and raise money for local charities.
Whether it’s something for you or a loved one, visit Carlyn Galerie for a gift that resonates with echoes of joy, color and quality.
Rebecca Marin is a freelance writer and the founder/event producer at The Wildflowers. Find out more at thewildflowers.events.