Have you seen the vibrant wooden sculpture hanging in Vaulted Oak? It’s from the hands and imagination of Ian Wegener, a professional working artist and Oakhurst neighbor. Family friendship and creativity landed it in the taproom.
On Vaulted Oak’s preview night in June 2021, we drew deeper into the taproom to find Kiel Arrington standing near the original vault where a velvet rope cornered heavy palettes of wheat, oats, chocolate wheat malt. Kiel and company transformed the BB&T bank building at 3726 Monroe Road in Echo Hills into a welcoming gathering spot for neighbors.
“Is that an Ian Wegener?” we ask, pointing to a magnificent and wild sculpture on the back wall.
“Yeah, that’s Ian’s,” Kiel confirms with a smile that shines from behind the mask. “He’s a good friend.”
You may have seen Ian’s billboards around town last year; he was a member of ArtPop’s Class of 2020. We’re familiar with the talented local artist and couldn’t wait to hear more.
Kiel always knew he wanted to feature Ian’s artwork in the brewery, “We were going to have big spaces, and his style and the pieces I knew he had done before would be perfect.” Kiel let Ian decide which piece he thought would work best.
All of Ian’s work relies heavily on process. He collects wood from many sources—fallen limbs in the neighborhood, wood from contractors who are gutting or updating houses, and scraps that are seemingly destined for disposal.
The sculpture in Vaulted Oak has reclaimed wood from Ian’s neighbors’ old kitchen, and pieces from a maple tree that needed to be taken down in his own yard.
“I see the potential of it all and will literally sit with the material until it starts to speak to me of its future metamorphosis,” says the self-taught woodworker and sculptor. “I feel honored to work with these materials and give them an extended burst of life.”
“GQ” is from a series that utilizes patterns and shapes, formulating a symbol system to communicate—”almost like Egyptian and Mayan hieroglyphs and ancient cuneiform,” Ian describes. But he’s not trying to tell the viewer how to feel. That’s for you to explore.
Of Friendship & Families
To understand how Ian’s vibrant sculpture ended up in Vaulted Oak’s tap room, we have to go back to school—UNCC grad school, circa 2008.
Emily Wegener and Marie Arrington met while earning their Master’s degrees in Special Education at UNCC. Marie actually gave Emily a ride home one night when she missed the city bus. Years later, the two women ended up teaching together in CMS—at Albemarle Road Elementary.
“We have been friends with them ever since,” say the Wegeners.
“We’ve taught together, become neighbors, and have kids who are around the same age as one another,” says Marie. “You can often find our daughter, Gracelyn, wearing daughter, Mia’s hand-me-downs.”
They like it
Kiel says he appreciates that people notice the details like Ian‘s artwork, or the live plants, or the custom wood work done for the bar face and backsplash. We ask about the wooden chandeliers, and it turns out Kiel fashioned the fixtures from barrel hoops purchased from Triple C Brewing Company.
The theme is strong on Monroe Road. Combining what’s here—in whatever stage of its life—with creative ideas can bring about something beautiful for all to enjoy.
Where to find Ian Wegener originals
You can find Ian’s work on Instagram @queencityjacks and on his website www.ianwegener.com. Commissions are welcome, as well as inquiries about current available work. Ian takes pride in having work available at a wide range of price points.
Also, go check out the pieces he has at Collective Good Co., a fun and eclectic boutique in the Historic Cherry neighborhood, and the new Dark Side Studio Inc. which has a great gallery in a historic building in Mount Holly.