By Colby Gable
On December 13th, the Winter Exhibition Celebration at the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum will be presenting new works for its seasonal exhibit. The museum’s Curator of Exhibitions and Collections Director, Dianna Cameron, talked about the upcoming pieces in, saying, “The event we have coming up is one of our three annual opening receptions for our latest exhibitions, so it isn’t something really different that we do, we just feature different exhibitions with every reception. With this one, we have five exhibitions that we’re presenting, which is photographs by Hugh Morton, a show that traveled to us from Chapel Hill, we have a work of watercolors from Sallie Middleton and the Asheville Art Museum, and also curated the show of realistic wood sculptures by Pete Ludo, an artist based in Lenoir. We also have our exhibit by a local craftsman, Chris Capazzoli, who makes all of his guitars and string instruments by hand. Lastly in our community gallery, we’ll have an exhibition of photographs by David Holt, who is both a musician and photographer, and within that exhibit he talks about his mentors and heroes as a musician which features names like Doc Watson.”
When the museum decides which pieces will be exhibited, Cameron states, “We decide internally and also get a mix of submissions sent to us. But we try to find a good balance of both art and history as well as exhibitions that explore that interdisciplinary potential. For example, Chris’ shows “Sound Machine” shows the craftsmanship of guitars, but we also talk about the history of music within Appalachia in that exhibition. And the photographs by Hugh Morton, who is more of a documentary photographer, we show his photos but also has artistic photographs in that exhibition and it explores who he was as a photographer as well as the North Carolina history within the context of that show. So, it’s all about trying to find a good balance.”
Connecting the present world of art with the history of the past, specifically that of North Carolina’s past, is an integral theme here among the museum’s exhibits, and is thoroughly captured by the photographs of Morton. The Hugh Morton Collection of Photographs and Films (Collection P0081, North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, Wilson Library) documents Hugh MacRae Morton’s career covering eight decades (1930s-2000s) as a prominent North Carolina businessman, political figure, tourism booster, conservationist, environmental activist, sports fan, and prolific image-maker. The still images and motion pictures in the collection cover aspects of Morton’s various involvements: as a photojournalist; a soldier in the Pacific Theater during World War II; the owner and operator of the Grandfather Mountain tourist attraction in Linville, N.C.; a well-known figure in state government and friend of many North Carolina politicians, entertainers, and media personalities; an alumni, booster, and frequent sports-event attendee of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and an ardent admirer of nature and lover of travel.
One of the artists being newly shown is Sallie Ellington Middleton, one of the most well-known artists in the country for her work on plants and animals. Middleton had little formal training in art, and apart from her time at the Plonk School of Creative Arts in Asheville, was taught by her uncle, Douglas Ellington, who studied art and architecture at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and designed the Asheville City Building. Middleton’s childhood home in Asheville, which was also designed by her uncle, has become a local landmark of sorts as it was listed as “One of the Ten Most Beautiful Homes in America.” The watercolors in the exhibit are those done from 1970-1990, and as mentioned, present images of animals intertwined with aspects of nature or their surrounding space.
Continuing on the capturing of different animal species through art, Lenoir-based artist, Pete Lupo, will also be part of the addition to BRAHM’s Winter Exhibition, as his woodwork sculptures capture, as the museum says, an “intimate knowledge of wildlife, their habitat, and their interaction with mankind.” Lupo’s project, “Shared Spaces: Wildlife Wood Sculptures by Pete Lupo,” features seven hyper-realistic carvings of animals and wildlife, “sharing space” with random objects such as cans or hats. Each work in his exhibits are wood pieces finished with multiple thin washes of an acrylic paint and contrasted with brass and copper sheets cut into pieces to complete the background or add other figures such as leaves or grass. His works are also admittedly inspired by the surroundings of his studio/home overlooking the Yadkin Valley in Caldwell County, North Carolina, where Lupo says, “It is in this serene setting that art is created, inspiring every carving and brush stroke. “
This event is free and open to the public. There is no RSVP required, and food will be available for attendees. The Winter Exhibition Celebration is scheduled for 4:30-7:00 PM on December 13th. For more information, contact the BRAHM at 828-295-9099.