When people speak of great artists, they often mention masters like Jacob Lawrence, Picasso, Matisse and Van Gogh.
Now the name Romare Bearden is included among the masters who influenced him.
Charlotteans can view the works of Bearden, perhaps Charlotte's most famous son, at a current art exhibition in south Charlotte.
Bearden's poetic paintings and the work of 25 other artists will be featured in "The Storeroom: A Selection of Works by Gallery Artists," at the Melberg Gallery, 625 S. Sharon Amity Road.
"Bearden is a master collagist - he's right up there with Picasso," said gallery spokeswoman Mary Melberg.
"His art explains who and what he was," she said. "He was a brilliant man who shared his inner strength and philosophy with us."
Bearden's work - such as "She-Ba," "Come Sunday," and "The Block" - captures the poetry, spirit and vibrancy of African-American life.
In addition to being a prolific artist, Bearden was a writer, educator and social activist. He wrote several publications, including "A History of African American Artists: from 1792 to the Present," which was published posthumously in 1993. He died in 1988 in New York City at age 76.
Other Charlotte natives featured in the show include Richard Stenhouse and Richard Mayberry. Stenhouse, 65, who received an master's in visual art from UNC Greensboro, is fond of painting houses because "They're the closest thing to the human being without being human," he said.
"Once somebody's lived in a place, the place takes on a life of its own," Stenhouse said. "Houses that have been lived in acquire their own personality."
Stenhouse's painting "Green Cabin on a Hill," an oil on canvas piece, is an example of how his drawings evoke a soft veiled light that falls over the subject of the work, whether it's a house, tree or other outdoor element.
Mayberry, also in his 60s, received a master's in painting from Queens College in New York. His work, drawn from photographs, uses pencil and engraving techniques to produce realistic and highly textured images of trees, leaves, flowers and weeds.
Gallery owner Jerald Melberg, a former Mint Museum of Art curator and husband to spokeswoman Mary, opened the gallery more than 25 years ago. Mary Melberg said the artists featured in this exhibition are courageous.
Another of those artists who will allow viewers to view his inner life on canvas is Thomas McNickle, who paints mostly watercolor and oil works of landscapes and nature.
"Through painting I try not only to experience the moment, but to try, as all artists do, to connect with it in a way that is outside the moment - timeless," McNickle said.
His pieces "Brake in the Dam" and a low country inspiration, "Evening Vigil (Kiawah Island, S.C.)," are featured in the exhibition.
McNickle, 65, lives in rural New Castle, Pa., and is "deeply rooted in the community," he said. He taught elementary school art there for more than 30 years.
Also included in the show is the work of artists from other states, and from such distant lands as Argentina and Spain.
"From the Storeroom" will continue until June 15 and includes works by Wolf Kahn, one of America's premier landscape painters; Robert Motherwell, a leader of the American abstract expressionist movement; and Dale Chihuly, the world's preeminent glass artist.