Built in 2005 as a replica of the 1874 Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station, Pea Island Art Gallery stands out in the tiny town of Salvo for its architecture as well as its art. Owned by Kim Robertson, the gallery exhibits the work of 120 artists. Work comes from local, regional, national, and global creative folk, making this gallery a shining star on the Outer Banks creative scene.
Visitors to the gallery will discover a wide range of mediums and styles from paintings, photography, jewelry, fiber, and wood art to Impressionism, realism, abstraction, and mixed styles and mediums.
Nationally known quilter Eileen Williams of Swansboro makes her mark on the gallery with fiber works ranging in size from tiny 4-inch squares to wall-sized hangings. Nature is her muse and is felt in the compositions she creates, including a brilliantly colored seascape of contrasting hues and strata depicting a passionate sky with streaks of pale and deep orange contrasted against moody purples. The scene finishes with a slash of dark sea, dividing sky from the warm colored coast.
Sam Shelby is a Roanoke Rapids artist who paints landscapes using oils and alkyds. He has an impasto approach heavily layering paint on the substrate to form tree lines, skies, and water. He passionately applies paint and distills down the forms to their essence, rather than overwhelming the viewer with details.
The abstract watercolors by Michael Farrar of Clifton Forge, Virginia, arrest the eye with their fantastic shapes and colors. He pairs neutral colors with more vibrant hues of red, orange and green to create depth. His shapes in “Life in the Blood Stream # 3” depict lively, floating images resembling platelets, which, together, create a personal language begging to be heard. His use of transparent and opaque paint creates layers demanding exploration.
Three-dimensional art and crafts abound in the gallery featuring hand-crafted jewelry, pottery, functional woodwork and hand-painted and carved decoys. Kitty Hawk artists Vic and Ellen Berg showcase their decoys and woodwork throughout the gallery, including waterfowl and fish. Vic Berg learned woodworking from his father, the late-Vern Berg. Vic then taught Ellen how to carve in 1986.
In the winter, Robertson creates an array of wearable art — “Pea Pod Jewelry” — for her gallery, including earrings, pendants and cuffs. Her designs are inspired by the “magical winds and waves on Hatteras Island.” Each creation is embossed with a vintage or coastal design. She uses metal paints and inks to add pizazz to her pieces.
The gallery has a wonderful collection of photographs by some of the top Outer Banks photographers, including Dan Waters and Ray Matthews. Also, in the mix is the photography by Curtis Krueger who captures us with his stunning “Clouds on the Waterfront.” The Wilmington, North Carolina, artist travels thousands of miles a year to take photos and participate in festivals.
Pea Island Gallery is filled with niches that artfully display a collection of two- and three-dimensional art. Suzan Forsythe, who works at the gallery, is responsible for staging the creative vignettes that enable the viewer to take in an eclectic mix of art that enables each piece to stand out while feeling at home in her creative settings. After wandering through this artful staging, the gallery goer comes up close and personal with huge paintings that command the back wall. An atmospheric abstract by Carol Meese features vibrant orange and yellow lifting from moody purple and red violet. Her juxtapositions of color and strokes lend motion and light to the oil painting, “Fog Lifting.”
Pea Island Art Gallery is a good place to connect with the local art world as well as the art world at large. You will find work by tried and true Outer Bankers, such as Dixie Browning. Her landscape watercolors preserve the wild look of the island so that we will never forget what inspires many island artists as well as non-artists alike. But at a gallery as eclectic and far reaching as Pea Island, you will find that inspiration comes from so many different experiences and visions from the internal “Life in the Blood Stream #3” by Farrar to the shore birds that delight the Bergs. And with Robertson curating and Forsythe staging, a visit to the gallery is an inspiring, thoughtful, and visually tantalizing experience.