In the 1970s, Western North Carolina was the cradle of an artistic movement known today as the Blue Ridge Realists. The works of the 10 men who represent this movement are being shown together for the first time at the Hickory Museum of Art in the Shuford Gallery.The exhibit opened in December; an opening reception is planned for Jan. 25. All events are free. The exhibit runs through March 10.The artists are Bob Timberlake, Ward Nichols, Cotton Ketchie, Jack Greenfield, Phillip Philbeck, John Furches, Gary Freeman, Richard Oversmith, Scott Boyle and Frederick Craig Franz.The Blue Ridge Realists’ art is based on the innate appeal of rural life and was first inspired by 20th-century realist Andrew Wyeth. Later, such influences as American tonalism, impressionism and modern regionalist schools were important to the group. A co-mingling of these influences allowed the Blue Ridge Realists artists to originate their own individualistic styles. A founding member of the Blue Ridge Realists movement, Bob Timberlake, lives in Lexington, where he has a studio and gallery. On the advice of artist Andrew Wyeth, Timberlake made the decision to become a full time artist in 1970. His first three solo exhibitions at New York’s prestigious Hammer Galleries were sold out days before their openings. He has held numerous solo museum exhibitions around the world, and he designed the first Christmas stamp for the U.S. Postal Service.Also a co-founder of the Blue Ridge Realists movement, artist Ward Nichols has painted western North Carolina rural landscape for longer than 40 years. Nichols says “documenting the rural structures of the Appalachian region remains an obligation to record a passing lifestyle.” His incomprehensively detailed paintings draw viewers to lean into the art to look at the fine precision. Nichols lives near Asheville, where he has a gallery.A member of the original group of Blue Ridge Realists, North Carolina native and award-winning artist “Cotton” Ketchie has been preserving the rural beauty and heritage of his beloved state for nearly thirty years. His travels have taken him on the back roads of all 100 counties. He and his wife own a gallery in Mooresville.Born in 1933, Jack Greenfield of Kings Mountain, is a first-generation artist in the Blue Ridge Realist movement. A self-taught artist, he would spend his lunch hour studying the old masters’ paintings at the National Gallery of Art. He spent nearly two decades perfecting his technique when, in 1979, he completed what he considers his first professional painting.Phillip Philbeck of rural Rutherford County paints mountains, rolling piedmont and coastal views. He enjoys the surroundings in which he grew up and is inspired to paint its farms, streams, ponds, coast or anything to which he feels an emotional attachment.John Furches of Elkin is best known for his ability to depict the relationships of color and nature in rural landscapes and still lifes. He has tried many different media but always come back to watercolor.Gary Freeman is a painter and printmaker known for his Carolina landscape, nature and architectural studies. He discovers his images as he drives the rural roads or walks the land near his home in Cherryville.Richard Oversmith’s purpose in painting is to provoke the viewer to interact with his pieces. The natural beauty of Western North Carolina is the inspiration for his impressionistic landscapes.Scott Boyle of rural Gaston County is a landscape artist painting in oils and is a promoter of plein air painting. Now, a recognized part of the Blue Ridge Realists school, he continues the tradition of the great 19th-century painters who used open air painting as an indispensable tool to produce more meaningful works. Frederick “Craig” Franz’s lives in Avery County at the foot of rugged Grandfather Mountain and the National Forest that borders its southern flank. Working primarily in soft pastels, his award winning paintings are created both plein air and in the studio.
Friday, Jan. 04, 2013
Art of Blue Ridge Realists brought together for Hickory exhibit
10 artists, including Bob Timberlake and Cotton Ketchie, shown in Hickory exhibit
Cotton Ketchie, shown with his painting "Lake Norman Patriot," has a studion in Mooresville.
Jack Greenfield's watercolor paintings will be on display through March in Hickory.
Works by artist Scott Boyle of Gaston County are part of an exhibit in Hickory featuring the art of the Blue Ridge Realists.
North Carolina artist and furniture designer Bob Timberlake is one of the Blue Ridge Realists featured in the exhibit.
Want to go? The Hickory Museum of Art is located in the SALT Block, 243 Third Ave. N.E., Hickory. Admission is free. For information go to HickoryArt.org or call 828-327-8576.
Betty Stone is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Betty? Email her at email@example.com.
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