Mollie Fearing Memorial Art Show opens at Dare Arts

By on May 8, 2024

Patrick Berran juror with Best in Show award winning painting “Beach Finds” by Tom Dean. (Photo by Mary Ellen Riddle)

By Mary Ellen Riddle | Outer Banks Voice

The 27th Mollie Fearing Memorial Art Show opened to a crowded house in the Dare Arts Courtroom Gallery on Sunday, May 5. The room was packed with over 150 people chatting, walking the perimeter gazing at the 77 artworks and taking in the purple, blue and red award ribbons for works that received either Best in Show, Excellence or Honorable Mention accolades.

The show’s namesake, the late Mollie Fearing, was a Manteo businessperson, former mayor and commissioner who in the mid-70’s got together a group of people with the intention of forming a symphony society in the coastal county. The symphony idea expanded and grew into the Sea and Sound Arts Council that eventually became what currently is Dare Arts.

“So that’s how this whole thing started was because of the symphony,” Grizelle Fearing, who is Mollie’s daughter.

Present at the reception, along with the extended Fearing clan, was the show’s juror, Patrick Berran, a practicing abstract painter who is a fulltime teacher at the College of the Albemarle Dare and Elizabeth City campuses. He teaches classes that include painting and drawing.

Berran attended the Dassel Art Academy at the age of 18 in Northern Virginia. He received a bachelor’s degree at Virginia Commonwealth University with a focus on printmaking and painting. He also graduated from Hunter College in New York City where he received a graduate degree in painting.

When judging a show, Berran says “I look for their individual voice and perhaps a theme that they are trying to express and share with the viewer…I think also…about the uniqueness and how they create an image to set them apart from somebody doing a similar genre or motif.”

“Beach Finds” by Tom Dean. (Dare Arts)

For Best in Show, he chose an acrylic painting of driftwood by Tom Dean titled “Beach Finds,” featuring images resembling whelk shells embedded in the painted driftwood’s nooks and crannies. The overall image is not confined in a frame but is cut in the shape of the driftwood. The work is deftly painted with shades of brown, orange, gray, black and white working together to form the delicate yet weathered wood grain.

Award winning works also included an oil pastel painting titled “The Acceptance” by Julia Gabitova that features a young woman in a white peasant blouse wearing a red head scarf with a brown rabbit cradled in her arms. The work begs interpretation beyond its name for the sorrowful look on the subject’s face. The artwork received an Excellence Award.

Of note is the Honorable Mention “Restraint” by Connor Hughes, who created an arresting drawing with charcoal of two figures connected by a chain, which the figure in the foreground holds taut. The superior composition and tension invoked push this work into an award-winning category.

Julia Gabitova oil pastel painting “The Acceptance” an Excellence award winning painting,
Photo of “Restraint” by Connor Hughes charcoal drawing. (Photo by Rudy Magallanes).
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 Julia Gabitova oil pastel painting “The Acceptance” an Excellence award winning painting,
Photo of “Restraint” by Connor Hughes charcoal drawing. (Photo by Rudy Magallanes).
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The moods invoked by the works range from Gabitova’s pensive “The Acceptance” to the peaceful acrylic painting of a pink apple blossom tree. Painted by Thomas Aubrey, “Spring Apple Blossoms” won an Excellence Award.

Other Excellence Award winners include an untitled mixed media sculpture of a shark embedded with what resemble mechanical parts by Makenzey Pullen, and Sam Ray’s oil painting “Moonlit Dreams,” with its hybrid human-pelican image,

Honorable mentions also include an oil portrait of the late photographer Ray Matthews entitled “Ray” by James Melvin and a photography series of flames by Francesca Beatrice Marie called “Meet Your Inner Demons.”

Throughout the reception, guests cast ballots for the People’s Choice Award. The winner was a bronze, resin and aluminum sculpture of Manteo, an Algonquian Native American from the sub-tribe Croatan who interacted with the voyagers from England who arrived in coastal North Carolina in the late 1500s.

History buff David Pollard was stoked to win the award. “As a sculptor, I love getting the People’s Choice Award more than any other award because it’s not a representation of one person’s opinion, which is purely valid, but it’s a representation of what the community appreciates,” he says.

The Mollie Fearing Memorial Art Show will be on display through June 1, Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 300 Queen Elizabeth Avenue, Manteo, 252-473-5558, Show sponsors include Mollie A, Fearing and Associates Inc., Jane Webster, Lucky Twelve Tavern, Ocean Atlantic Rentals, and Cathy Spivey Mendola. 



Barnhill Building Group has been selected as the Construction Manager @ Risk by the College of the Albemarle and is seeking to pre-qualify construction trade contractors to submit bids for the furnishing labor, materials, equipment, and tools for the new College of The Albemarle – Allied Health Sciences Simulation Lab (COA Health Sciences) located in Elizabeth City, NC. Please note: Only subcontractors who have been prequalified by Barnhill will be able to submit a Bid.

The project consists of the new construction of a 38,000-sf, 2-story expansion to the existing Owens Health Sciences Center and will house classrooms, labs, and a simulation lab. The site is just over just over 4.5 acres and is located on an active campus. This new construction will be a steel structure with a brick and metal panel veneer, curtainwall, and storefront glazing with a PVC roof membrane.

Principal trade and specialty contractors are solicited for the following Bid Packages:

BP0100: General Trades

BP0105: Final Cleaning

BP0390: Turnkey Concrete

BP0400: Turnkey Masonry

BP0500: Structural Steel & Misc. Steel

BP0740: Roofing

BP0750: Metal Panels

BP0790: Caulking / Caulking

BP0800: Turnkey Doors/Frames/Hardware

BP0840: Glass & Glazing

BP0925: Drywall

BP0960: Resilient Flooring

BP0980: Acoustical Ceilings

BP0990: Painting & Wallcovering

BP1005: Toilet Specialties / Accessories / Division 10

BP1010: Signage

BP1098: Demountable Partitions

BP1230: Finish Carpentry and Casework

BP1250: Window Treatment

BP1400: Elevators

BP2100: Fire Protection

BP2200: Plumbing

BP2300: HVAC

BP2600: Turnkey Electrical

BP3100: Turnkey Sitework

BP3290: Landscaping

Packages may be added and/or deleted at the discretion of the Construction Manager. Historically underutilized business firms are encouraged to complete participation submittals.

HUB/MWBE OUTREACH MEETING: Barnhill Building Group will be conducting a HUB/MWBE Informational Session. You are encouraged to attend the following session to learn more about project participation opportunities available to you. These seminars will help to: Learn about project and scope; Inform and train Minority/HUB contractors in preparation for bidding this project; Assist in registration on the State of North Carolina Vendor link; Stimulate opportunities for Networking with other firms. Location and time TBD. Please visit our planroom at for more information.

Interested contractors should submit their completed prequalification submittals, by July 22, 2024, to Meredith Terrell at or hardcopies can be mailed to Barnhill Contracting Company PO Box 31765 Raleigh, NC 27622 (4325 Pleasant Valley Road, NC 27612).


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