For nearly half of a century, Glenn Eure has been impacting the art scene on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The Colington artist is the heart of the arts in this coastal enclave. From handing out thousands upon thousands of pen and ink watercolor boat pictures to visitors to his Ghost Fleet Gallery and folks he happens upon at lunchtime in local restaurants to being the brains behind the building of a Monument to a Century of Flight in Kitty Hawk, he’s made history through his passion for the arts and his altruism to society.
It’s fitting, since his footprint is so huge, that a library be created to house all the history he’s helped to create. His fingerprints are on so many happenings, the related paperwork and imagery alone fill thick binders and cover the walls and floor of a new space dedicated to his life’s work. Created by his spouse and gallery partner, Pat Eure, and called The Glen, a play on words to indicate a place — as well as his name — the library is a valuable flashback to all things art that have happened in Eure’s life prior to moving the Outer Banks as well as his tenure here over the last 44 years.
At age 85, Eure looks back fondly and talks freely of highlights of his career as an art instigator and idea propagator. He was stunned when he saw it all come together under the library roof, which is on the second floor of the gallery. “I never saw myself as an emotional man,” Eure says. “It brought tears to my eyes. It was so moving.”
With a keen business mind yet a poet’s soul, Pat has been by his side since they married October 26, 1979. Together they run Glenn Eure’s Ghost Fleet Gallery in Nags Head, which Eure built from scratch. The gallery, Eure’s second on the Outer Banks, opened in 1983. They are working on an official count, but know they have showcased hundreds of exhibits there over the years, many being a way to introduce a new artist to the public. It’s also at the gallery that they took over hosting the Frank Stick Memorial Art Show the same year they opened. It’s a Dare County Arts Council exhibition, the longest running show in the county. The arts council didn’t have space to hang the quickly growing exhibit that, at one time, included close to 150 works of local artists and arts council members. The Eures, despite their space being a commercial gallery, lent prime gallery space to house the month-long show for a number of years.
What will you find when you climb the skinny staircase to the new library? Everything from tiny Vietnam-inspired drawings on bank checks Eure drew back in the 1960s, when he was in a hospital in Saigon due to a war injury to a model of the Monument to a Century of Flight and framed images of the Stations of the Cross he hand-carved from wood for Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Kitty Hawk. Local folk modeled for the figures. There is a handsome self- portrait Eure painted of himself on a motorcycle — an entry into the Artist’s Self Portrait Show the Eure’s host at the gallery annually. There are personal photographs of Eure as a boy, scads of albums filled with press from the many exhibits they hosted and myriad art- happenings in which they were involved. You can browse through a binder filled with images of Eure’s collagraphs — collage-like fine art prints for which he is known. You’ll discover a sampling of his shaped canvas paintings. There also are a series of photographs of him demonstrating printmaking — his major at East Carolina University in the 1970s. Early albums feature press from art events Eure did as a volunteer for the National Park in the ‘70s. The library allows for memorializing artists who contributed to the county’s history. “It reminded me of so many people, many long since gone, Eure says of his wife’s effort.
Generations of visitors to Glenn’s galleries still come to Nags Head to bring in children and grandchildren to meet the man who once autographed a boat painting for him. There’s no telling how many artists the Eures have inspired over the years. Of note are multiple books in The Glen that chronicle Eure’s life, his accomplishments and his skills. They, and the contents of the lovingly curated library are a must see. “Life gets richer as you get older because of all the days past,” Pat Eure says.
Mary Ellen Riddle has been writing the Coast’s art column for more than 20 years and brings to her work a BFA in painting from East Carolina University and a profound passion for the role the arts play in society.