After celebrating their 30th anniversary this year, the Purveyors of Art & Design Materials are featuring two exhibits at their store, the Golden Age of Wrestling 2020 Wall Calendar featuring brush and ink illustrations by Mike Hill, and Places of the Heart, a collection of watercolor landscapes from Leighton Ford’s book, Places of the Heart.
A graduate of the Commercial Art program at Appalachian State University, Mike Hill has been creating illustrative diversions for clients since High School, and his newest piece, “Golden Age of Wrestling,” was primarily inspired by Hill’s love for wrestling as a child and the connection the sport provided to his childhood. “I grew up watching all those guys in the calendar on Saturday mornings with my grandparents. On the family farm, my grandparents had a rotary antenna which reached TV stations in Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Charlotte, all with their own little wrestling promotions, so after mowing in the mornings we would watch professional wrestling shows in the afternoon from the three different affiliates.”
Although Hill’s love for wrestling developed early on, it wasn’t until a conversation with 1970’s professional wrestler Ricky Morton at a silent auction in Bristol, Tennessee, when Hill decided to start the illustrations. After discussing work for Morton’s wrestling school “Rock n Roll Express,” as Hill mentions, “It got me thinking about using wrestling in my illustrations. I think the first one I did was Dusty Rhodes, and it was mostly a time-passing kind of thing. Then I found a collection of old vintage photos and just kept going.”
Hill also talked a little about the production of the calendar and the quality that went into the work. “I produced it in-house, and used really nice stock, and hand-bind them. It’s also a product in the gift shop of the Golden Wrestling Museum where the entrance holds the largest brush and ink illustrations in the South, and it’s filled with instantly recognizable characters from your favorite childhood memories.” Picking a favorite among the calendar’s illustrations, however, is a challenge for Hill who when choosing a favorite, says, “They’re all my favorites! It’s been a great and fun artistic exercise with each one.”
In a much different artistic vein, the other exhibit on display, Dr. Leighton Ford’s scenes from his painting and literary combination, Places of the Heart, differs from Hill’s black and white illustrations with a contrast of lots of color implementation and capturing the world of landscapes as opposed to people. These works are surprisingly only a product of Ford’s pastimes, as he is also is President of Leighton Ford Ministries. Hill was able to discuss the story behind Ford’s work being exhibited saying, “Dr. Ford was one of my clients who later in life decided he was a watercolorist and an artist. And I’ve been fortunate to be able to help him reproduce his paintings, most of the time for one of his books. We’ve been reproducing paintings with him for over ten to fifteen years, all of special places. And usually he has poetry and essays to go with wherever the painting is set…if there ever was a ‘Renaissance Man,’ that would be him.” Hill is this time able to select a favorite from among Ford’s exhibit, citing “Welcoming Committee” as one which he especially enjoys.
Some of the other pieces from this collection, a few of which highlight spaces from the High Country and are available for purchase, include:
Art Purveyors is located in Foscoe, North Carolina, in the shadow of Grandfather Mountain halfway between Banner Elk and Boone North Carolina.
Store hours are Tuesday – Friday 9ish to 5ish, now located at 112 Aldridge Park on Highway 105 South.
For contact or more information, call toll-free: (800) 861-DRAW or email at: [email protected]