On Tuesday, February 18th, 2020, from 11:00 – 12:00 pm, Blowing Rock Art & History Museum (BRAHM) will present a behind-the-scenes look into the art exhibition “Sallie Middleton: A Life in the Forest,” on loan from the Asheville Art Museum and courtesy of Sallie Middleton Parker and Mikell Middleton Howington. Before and after the tour, guests are invited to converse and pose questions while enjoying complimentary Hatchet Coffee and baked goods.
With little formal training in art, Sallie Ellington Middleton (1926-2009) has long been considered one of the most gifted painters of plants and animals. She possessed a remarkable eye for detail, a skilled hand to record what she saw and a keen imagination to shape her enchanted images. Her detailed paintings required months or even years to complete.
Middleton painted with transparent watercolors, a difficult media to master. She said that for her, watercolors were easy to transport, less obtrusive in the wild and less messy than oil paints. She is quoted in The Magical Realm of Sallie Middleton as saying, “I am the very kind to track the oil through the house and get it on the baby, who would put it on the dog, who would transfer it to the cat—on into infinity.”
Middleton often made forays into the woods to gather plant materials for her paintings. She told a story of one such expedition where she encountered a water moccasin on her way home. She decided to imitate a tree and out-wait the snake. As darkness drew near, she realized that the snake was out-waiting her, so she decided to jump over the snake and hurry back home.
Other subjects came to her. One time she was presented with three baby rabbits whose mother had been accidentally killed. She raised them in spite of being told this was an impossible task. When it came time to release the rabbits, they refused to leave; so, she took them back home and began to paint their picture.
Middleton spent most of her life in Asheville or in Charleston, SC. For many years she and her husband, G. Abbot Middleton, Jr., lived in Charleston. After their divorce in 1968, she returned to Asheville with her daughters, Sallie and Mikell. To support herself and her family, she turned to her art. Aside from a few years living in Biltmore Forest, she spent the last rest of her life living in the same home she had grown up in, in the forests of Chunn’s Cove.
Middleton exhibited her work at the Rice Museum, Georgetown, SC; Hinchman House, Nantucket Island, MA; Sumter Gallery of Art, Sumter, SC; Spartanburg County Art Association, Spartanburg, SC; Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, NC; Schiele Museum of Natural History, Gastonia, NC; and the Greenville County Museum of Art, Greenville, SC. Her paintings can be found in museum collections including the Gibbes Art Museum in Charleston, SC, and the Mint Museum.
All works in this exhibition are watercolors by Middleton from circa 1970-1990. They appear courtesy of Sallie Middleton Parker and Mikell Middleton Howington. The exhibition is sponsored in part by Frugal Framer, John Cram & Matt Chambers, Ray Griffin & Thom Robinson, salliemiddletonart.net, salliemiddleton.com, mansfieldplantation.com, Mikell Middleton Howington, and an anonymous gift.
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Blowing Rock Art & History Museum seeks to provide cultural enrichment to the High Country communities by promoting the arts and Southern Appalachian heritage and history through educational programs, exhibitions, activities, and permanent collections.
The Museum is located at 159 Ginny Stevens Land on the corner of Chestnut and Main in downtown Blowing Rock, NC. The Museum is open year round Tuesday through Saturday, 10am – 5pm (from May – October, the Museum is also open on Sundays from 12pm – 4pm.)
For more information, please call (828) 295-9099 or visit www.blowingrockmuseum.org.