Responding to the theme, “Water Water Everywhere,” artists creating in our island community donated works to the Dare County Arts Council for an exhibit of the same name now on display in the old Manteo courthouse. The profits go toward educational art experiences throughout the county. The works resonate on the multiple levels that water affects them: creatively, physically, spiritually, and, as the arts council reminds us in the show’s statement, economically. One can’t help but wonder, how can a water-dominated environment not impact these creative souls?

On a primary level, water is essential to humans and plants and is consumed by living things or serves as a habitat for them. The average human body is made up of 50- to 75% water. Without it, the human body couldn’t carry out cell activity, and plants need it for photosynthesis.

Now, as we think of the Outer Banks, and how water affects its inhabitants, the list grows to include offering recreation, food, transportation, rejuvenation, and inspiration. Imagine for a moment standing at the surf’s edge and watching a frothy wave roll toward you. It moves the sand and sea life below. It wets your sunbaked toes. It refreshes your spirit and calls to you to become one with the breaking waves or your inner flow.

You come away intuitively knowing that water is life, and life is motion. In “Water Water Everywhere” artists have painted sea, shore, marsh and sound scenes as well as created water-inspired designs, sculptures, photography, mixed media, jewelry and fiber art as reminders of the peace, beauty, fun, necessity, and meditative quality of water.

A gold and blue acrylic mandala, “Blue Dream” by Melanie Bortz, speaks to the spiritual side of water. The strokes of an expressionistic oil painting by Sandy Jett Ball shows water’s lively power in “Sea Grass Solitude.” Art takes a personal turn in Phyllis Wells’ acrylic painting “We are Water.” A mesmerizing silhouette of a human form against a deep blue-green background is filled with clouds, patterns, seagrasses, water, and fish. Carol Willett went for playful with her papier and cloth mâché creatures such as a yellow and orange “Citrus Pelican,” and brilliant green “Ostenta Fish.”

Interpretations of the theme include four related collages:

“Flotsam & Jetsam” I-IV by Mary Ann Remer featuring beer bottle caps, sea glass, shells, and brown paper grasses all atop a colorful print — one being purple and green swimming fish in an abstracted environment.

Handsome fiber bowls by Nancy McLaulin and wire and bead bracelets by Donna P. Ryan-Kocun celebrate the colors of the sea featuring blues, greens and turquoise hues. Visitors will find artists communing with jumping dolphin, waterfalls, sea turtles, angels formed from seafoam, melting ice, flying fish, beach paths, sunny days on the sand, shells, and storms.

From the straight forward title “I Love Pelicans” by Cyndi Goetchus — a digital photograph of four pelicans cruising down a crashing wave, to a mystical glass sculpture called “Oregon Inlet” by Jack Horst — a welded 3-dimensional clear glass pyramid housing a dangling blue glass cube topped by a shell, the interpretations have wide range.

Of note is the social commentary fiber work by Colleen Cole Fagersten — “Clean Water,” and “Everybody Needs Water.” Both weavings feature a centered floating earth. In the latter work, she wove multiple silhouettes of people, jumping fish, and animals. In the former, the earth floats surrounded by a variety of curving and watery blue and green shapes. The frame is painted with the word water in various languages.

The upstairs gallery is spacious, and the works run across the walls of the entire room that’s also used for art classes. Even if a class is in session, you can quietly browse the entire exhibit. The art is priced between $99 and $150 to attract a wide audience. The exhibit presents the opportunity to add to your collection at a reasonable price while helping to support the multifaceted arts council that touches the lives of people across all spectrums. It’s also a chance to commune with a multitude of water-inspired works.

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.

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