By Jessica Isaacs | [email protected]
Photos by Ken Ketchie
The Art Cellar Gallery in Banner Elk hosted celebrated American artist William Dunlap over the weekend in a reception for his latest work and an introduction to his new book, Short Mean Fiction.
“We had a great crowd of about 50 people who filled the lower gallery, which was nice,” said Gallery Director Liz Brown. “We had both people who have known Bill and his work for a long time and also people who were just discovering his work. It was a really nice mix of people for the event.”
The Mississippi native, who called the High Country home in the 1970s while teaching art at Appalachian State University, said he was excited to return to North Carolina to see his friends and experience the glory of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Like anyone who gets to know him, the folks in the crowd enjoyed Dunlap’s genuine, frank and no-holds-barred personality.
“He has such great energy and enthusiasm — it’s very contagious. He has such a nice, disarming nature in some ways, and he makes you want to join in the conversation or just sit back and see what he’s going to say next,” said Brown. “He’s just fascinating because he has such a vast knowledge of art history and his own artistic intent and energy is just so alive.
“That energy is something you want to be around. He’s straightforward and he’s going to say whatever is on his mind. People enjoy being around him, so it was fun to watch people as he shared from his book.”
The artist and author shared excerpts from Short Mean Fiction, a collection of vignettes inspired by four decades of imaginative tales told through the drawings in his sketchbooks.
“When any artist has a book, they give you a little glimpse into the things they carry around with them — in this case, little things he’s sketched or little stories he’s thought of — and it gives you insight into the artist in a different way,” Brown said. “You get a little more personal view of the things that are seeds for new work or are becoming inspiration. The actual sketches might not show up in the finished painting, but they’re things that strike the artist and it gives you a different insight into the artist’s head, and I think people enjoy that.”
Enjoy these photos from the recent reception and click here to read more about Short Mean Fiction.