By Mary Ellen Riddle / Correspondent
April 2, 2021
A rectangular frame of silver and copper is filled with color radiating from top to bottom. As it rises, hot red moves through the spectrum to end in warm yellow. Flames of silver dart across the hues. The vertical pendant is just one of the featured works of art currently on display at the annual Artist Self-Portrait Exhibition at the Ghost Fleet Gallery in Nags Head.
For more than a quarter of a century, the gallery has been hosting the expressive show. In its 26th year, the exhibition was the brain child of the late Glenn Eure, who was a primary figure in the Outer Banks art scene as a visionary, practicing artist, and gallery owner with his wife Pat. Known for his serious to humorous self-portraits, Eure was fond of the genre. “He thought it would be a lot of fun and, of course, from there it gets more complex,” says Pat Eure of her husband’s vision.
Glenn Eure was an inspiration to other artists and complexity is something many have adopted and can be seen at the gallery. From interpreting a 21 year career as a fire fighter in metal and colored pencil, as Lacy Chronister did with her aforementioned pendant, Belly of the Beast, to expressing love, empathy and fear, artists have journeyed within over the years to create outward expressions using nearly 30 mediums. Eure has seen a multitude of art forms come through the gallery – paintings, drawings, woodcuts, collages, photographs, bronze sculptures, and fiber and wood works, to name a few. She also has experienced the positives of her husband’s vision. “It enables established artists that worked in a certain medium and certain way – it gave them the freedom to break out and do something different,” she says. “For most people it is a very freeing experience.”
Historically, artists used themselves as models because it was convenient and free. Self-portraits also acted as “calling cards” for them, illustrating their ability to capture attributes of an individual technically and emotionally. It is also possible to say that art, in general, is autobiographical, for artists infuse some part of themselves into every personal work they do through their choices: subject matter and medium, brushstrokes, color, composition, and forms.
The self-portraits that have come in over the years have shown the eclectic nature of people and how they see themselves. Whether creating formal portraiture or crafting abstract expressions, uniqueness reigns. “It’s about creativity, and it’s about individualism,” Eure says about the exhibition. “That’s what makes it different. You have a roomful of people who are all individuals, and they can express it.”
She recalls a work by the late Denver Lindley, an abstract expressionist who took part in many past gallery shows. The painterly work in neutral colors features the avid reader as a stack of books topped with a hat that he was known to wear. Lindley’s son Matthew entered the exhibition this year with a computer composite: his face is superimposed over a Flemish portrait of a man in a helmet. Called Non Fabritius, the work measures one-inch by an inch-and-a -half. Lindley’s explanation of the piece created in the year of Covid-19: “Felt pretty small this year.”
The show has evolved over time. The exhibit averages 45-60 works from people as far as Bainbridge Island and California to as near as the Outer Banks. Some years also include literary works. And the first nine years, the exhibition did not have a specific theme. Beginning in 2005, the 10th year, a theme was suggested for artists seeking inspiration. Since then, entrants have been called upon to interpret themselves in myriad ways – as a clown, like their favorite artist, invited to shock the world of art or illustrate the self in a favorite time of life. To lend insight, the artists were asked this year to include a statement, an explanation, of their entry of the theme Put Yourself in the Picture. But just as the show’s creator encouraged artists to work outside the box, it is not mandatory to follow the suggested theme. “One year, a lady did her dog, which is how she said she felt when she got up in the morning,” says Eure.
“One thing that Glenn Eure always did, he encouraged people to look for the artist within themselves. “Every work has a story.”
What: 26th Annual Artist Self Portrait Exhibition
Where: Glen Eure’s Ghost Fleet Gallery, 210 E. Driftwood St., Nags Head
When: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Tuesday – Saturday, thru May 6
Contact: 252-441-6584, firstname.lastname@example.org; glenneureart.com