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Metalworker named Artist of the Year at Touchstone

| Wednesday, April 25, 2012, 11:18 a.m.

Dennis Gilkey of Indiana, Pa., has been named the Touchstone Center for Crafts 2011 Artist of the Year.

"I was astounded, Gilkey said. "I'm a fairly low-key type of person, so this is new to me."

Gilkey has been a participant at Touchstone for several years, first visiting the center to learn blacksmithing.

"I was a farrier for many years and I realized that it was something that I couldn't keep doing forever," Gilkey said, adding that since he enjoyed working with hot metal and design, honing that desire into a form of art seemed the natural path to take. "I came here to take a class and have pretty much been here ever since."

For the past several years, Gilkey has been a fixture at Touchstone, teaching classes and volunteering for the center.

Gilkey's work was displayed for the event, showcasing his talent and creative nature.

"These are all pieces of my private collection," he said of the artwork that was a mixture of presentation and functional pieces.

Gilkey was recognized with a reception, where he was awarded a plaque and a piece of artwork that was created especially for him by other Touchstone volunteers and demonstrators.

Touchstone's new director said that Gilkey was the perfect choice for the honor.

"We are fortunate to have such a highly skilled and engaging artisan representing the organization to the public and other craft-centered institutions," said Director Adam Kenney. "Along with his artistic accomplishments, Gilkey's passion for volunteering his time and efforts and his good-natured presence on campus, season after season, make him an outstanding choice to be the Touchstone 2011 Artist of the Year."

Gilkey is the owner and operator of Blue Spruce Forge in Creekside, where he specializes in architectural ironwork with an emphasis on traditional joinery.

Gilkey's pieces will now be on display through Oct. 29 at the Touchstone Hart Moore Museum.

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