By Corinne Saunders | Outer Banks Voice on February 4, 2023
Hundreds of people cycled through the galleries at Dare Arts in downtown Manteo for the opening night reception for two art shows on Friday, Feb. 3. Both the 45th Annual Frank Stick Memorial Art Show and “A Checkered Past: The Story of Keeper Richard Etheridge and the Pea Island Lifesaving Station” opened on Feb. 3 and are on display through Feb. 25.
The shows’ reception took place from 6 to 8 p.m. at Dare Arts, located in the former county courthouse at 300 Queen Elizabeth Street in Manteo. Dare Arts Executive Director Jessica Sands expressed enthusiasm with the turnout, which she said began before 6 p.m. and “felt like a true community event.”
“The cold weather didn’t scare anybody off tonight,” observed Jerry Saulnier, a Manteo resident originally from New Jersey as he perused the art on display.
Crowds of people usually meander through downtown Manteo on First Fridays, which take place from April through November each year. This event on the first Friday in February was a nod to that tradition, although the cold snap kept the streets all but empty and most area businesses were not open late.
The Frank Stick Memorial Art Show, the longest-running visual arts exhibit in Dare County, honors the Outer Banks preservationist, historian and artist who was instrumental in having miles of the Cape Hatteras Seashore designated as the first National Seashore, according to information on the Dare Arts website.
The past two years have been its two largest shows, Sands said. While the number of submissions has generally ranged from 90-100, 105 artists submitted work last year with 104 submissions this year, according to Dare Arts Media Director Tatum Clements.
This year’s show includes paintings, multimedia pieces, collage, photography, sculpture and more. One painting was done on an old saw, another painting was on found wood and there was an upcycled trash collage, among other diverse submissions on display.
Multidisciplinary artist Lisa LeMair was the judge for this year’s show. Judging for all but the People’s Choice Award was completed before the reception started.
“Nooks and Crannies” by Judith Saunders, a woven copper sculpture, took the top award, the Eure Best in Show Award. The award is named in honor of Glenn and Pat Eure “for their many years of support of this exhibit and all the arts in Dare County.”
For her oil painting titled, “Dreamland,” Taylor Williams won the People’s Choice Award—a green ribbon Sands presented at the end of the evening after staff had tallied the 130 votes cast during the reception for personal favorites on display at the Frank Stick show.
Williams, 26, was last year’s Eure Best in Show winner for her oil painting, “Prevail.” She’d also won a People’s Choice Award a few years ago.
“It’s always really special winning the People’s Choice, knowing how many people come to the show, and it’s up to the masses’ opinion,” Williams told the Voice.
“Dreamland” was inspired by a view she saw and captured in photographs while hiking in the dunes—a pink-hued sunset with Bodie Island Lighthouse in the distance and sand dunes in the foreground. “I got multiples of this shot with the sun changing, but this one stood out to me the most with all the pinks, and I just had to paint it,” said the Southern Shores resident.
Another artist in attendance, Shelli Johnson, also painted and entered a scene inspired in part by sand dunes.
“Lifting Fog at Avalon” was a sight Johnson photographed near Avalon Pier and then painted with acrylics. “I was on the way home after dropping my daughter off at school, and it was a foggy morning…just so beautiful,” Johnson, 53, said. First, a chair partially buried in sand claimed her attention, and then the lines in the sand formed by wind “drew me in.”
Meanwhile, Mike Harris, a Manteo resident, proudly confirmed to nearby attendees that he’d done the watercolor painting of a morning glory flower.
“I used to do a lot of barns and sea scenes,” Harris told the Voice, noting that recently he’s been painting flowers, which he considers “more personal.” The flower in his painting is growing on his neighbor’s fence and is “a nuisance flower,” he quipped.
Another painter, James Melvin, won one of this year’s Excellence Awards for his acrylic painting, “Community Checkers.” Melvin’s friend in Georgia sent him a photograph that inspired his painting of several groups of men playing checkers outdoors. The Nags Head resident said he didn’t paint individual facial features on purpose.
“I don’t want to show individual faces in there because it could be anybody” in any small town, Melvin said.
The Frank Stick show took place in the upstairs gallery, but more of Melvin’s work was on display in the downstairs Vault Gallery as part of “A Checkered Past: The Story of Keeper Richard Etheridge and the Pea Island Lifesaving Station.” In 1985, Melvin did about 13 oil paintings for that series, depicting both individual crewman and the crew in action. This exhibit is featured in February in recognition of Black History Month.
“That was a very inspiring project to work on,” Melvin said, noting that he’d recently moved to the Outer Banks at the time and learned about area history through that work.
The U.S. Life-Saving Service was the predecessor to the U.S. Coast Guard. Etheridge, who was born enslaved in Manteo, became the first Black Keeper at the Pea Island Station, leading the nation’s first all-Black and Native American life-saving crew.
Joan Collins, a descendant of a Life-Saving Station crew member and a board member for the Pea Island Preservation Society, Inc., (PIPSI) stood in the Vault Gallery during the event to discuss the show with any interested attendees. Along with Melvin’s paintings, the show features informational plaques, documents and other artwork related to Etheridge and his crew.
“We never dreamed that we would be here in the vault,” Collins told the Voice during the event. Her cousin, Darrell Collins, is PIPSI’s president. His father, Frank Collins, died at age 28 in 1960 during Hurricane Donna “leaving here to go back to base,” she said. Darrell Collins’ 13-year-old grandson, Barkley Collins, was also in attendance and volunteers with the PIPSI youth program.
Sands said of the opening reception event: “It was a wonderful kick-off for our 2023 event calendar, and we look forward to bringing 20 new exhibits to the Dare Arts gallery this year.”
45th Annual Frank Stick Memorial Art Show Winners
Eure Best in Show Award (one winner of $500):
- “Nooks and Crannies” by Judith Saunders, a woven copper sculpture
Excellence Awards (four winners of $250 each):
- “Community Checkers” by James Melvin, an acrylic painting
- “Matriarch” by Lori Goll, a pastel and metal leaf work on sanded paper
- “Protected” by Carolyn Sleeper, stoneware, copper, nichrome, epoxy, coral beads 3d work
- “Spring Awakens the Swamp” by Katherine Wassink, a multimedia piece involving alpaca and merino wool fibers, peacock feathers, buttons and silk
Honorable Mention Awards (three winners of $100 each):
- “2022: Looking for a Brighter Future” by Iryna Rusova Welch, an oil painting
- “Sake Set” by Kathleen Redman, made of porcelain clay
- “Touch of Sun” by Alla Rossow, a work of paper collage
People’s Choice Award (one winner of $75)
- “Dreamland” by Taylor Williams, an oil painting
Both art shows will be on display through Feb. 25 during regular Dare Arts gallery hours. For more information, visit www.darearts.org.
Notice of Public Auction
The public will take notice that the Dare County Tourism Board, at its meeting of October 20, 2022, adopted Resolution 2022-5 authorizing the sale of surplus personal property by public auction.
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