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Chris Wilson's view of the North Carolina landscape displayed in Nature Art Gallery

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Contact: Emelia.Cowans@naturalsciences.org; 919.707.9837

"From Murphy to Manteo: An Artist's Scenic Journey"  to debut at the NCMNS Nature Art Gallery September 6 

(Raleigh)—The Nature Art Gallery at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences will be exhibiting studies, sketches and preliminary drawings by Rocky Mount artist Chris Wilson in an exhibit titled "From Murphy to Manteo: An Artist's Scenic Journey."  The exhibit opens First Friday, September 6 with a wine and cheese reception from 6:30 to 9 p.m. for the artist. The exhibit will continue through September 29. 

Wilson conceived this ambitious project 13 years ago and over the next several years the idea coalesced to the point that, in 2007, he could begin in earnest. His first act was to draw a red line on a North Carolina transportation map from Murphy to Manteo and articulate a mission statement.   His aim was to create a portrait of North Carolina made up of very large oil paintings that, when completed later this year, will represent all 24 counties along the 560 miles of Highway 64 that runs from Murphy to Manteo. "I quickly saw the enormous variety of landscapes that would be encountered if I had the courage and fortitude to try to paint a portrait of North Carolina from the westernmost border to the coast," Wilson says.

To date he has completed more than 30 paintings and 35 smaller studies and sketches which will comprise the Nature Art Gallery show. There are countless coffee table books of breathtaking photographs of the scenic beauty of North Carolina and there are certainly numerous painters who have painted different areas of the state extensively, but to Wilson's knowledge none have attempted to paint the state in its entire breadth.  By his reckoning, he is one-third of the way to completion. From 1974 to 2012 he was head of the art department at Barton College. Currently, he is a professor emeritus and artist in residence there. This new role has given him the time to pursue this project with fewer distractions or interruptions. 

While the Museum’s exhibit of sketches, studies and preliminary drawings occupies the Nature Art Gallery, there will be approximately 30 paintings from the series on display throughout the Capital.  None of those works will be for sale however.  Wilson does not want to sell any of the paintings until the project is completed. The North Carolina Museum of History has 13 of the large paintings that he has completed hanging in their lobby. The remaining 15 or so will be distributed between the House of Representatives Chamber of the Legislative Building, the State Library, the  Department of Cultural Resources and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The sketches in the Nature Art gallery are for sale.

Wilson's hope is that the viewers will renew their appreciation for the scenic beauty and diversity of the North Carolina landscape and "turn away from the envy of the Alps...in favor of the nobility of the Blue Ridge.” “For me this journey is about rediscovering the riches of North Carolina in a pre-Interstate natural landscape and hoping that you might experience the journey with me through these paintings,” he said.

Wilson’s paintings have been exhibited widely in museums throughout the Southeast, including the Greenville and Fayetteville Museums of Art in North Carolina, The Burroughs-Chapin Museum of Art and the Spartanburg County Museum of Art in South Carolina, the Albany Museum of Art in Albany, Georgia, and in galleries such as the Blue Spiral in Asheville,  Somerhill Gallery in Chapel Hill, Flanders Art Gallery in Raleigh, City Art Gallery in Greenville, and the Carteret Contemporary Art in Morehead City. In 2003, he had a retrospective exhibit of 150 works exhibited in seven locations in Wilson, Rocky Mount, and Tarboro. 

Hundreds of his paintings are included in public, corporate, and private collections in the United States, England, Japan, and Saudi Arabia. His commissions number more than 65 and include Rocky Mount Medical Park, Wake Stone Corporation, Poyner Spruill Law Firms, Rocky Mount and Charlotte offices. 

The Nature Art Gallery is located on the top floor of the Museum Store, Main building. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, Noon to 5 p.m.; and open until 9 p.m. on First Fridays. All exhibited art is for sale.  For more information about the Nature Art Gallery, call 919.707.9854.


First Friday is a free, family-friendly, social event held the first Friday of each month at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh.  Visitors can enjoy exhibits, shopping, food and spirits until 9pm. The Natural Horror Picture Show (a vintage, sci-fi flick of 'B' movie caliber) begins at 7 p.m. Arrive early for live music and a film short from the A/V Geek archives.  For information, call 919.707.9800.

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (11 W. Jones St.) and its new wing, the Nature Research Center (121 W. Jones St.) in downtown Raleigh, documents and interprets the natural history of the state of North Carolina through exhibits, research, collections, publications and educational programming. Hours: Mon.- Sat., 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sun., noon-5 p.m. Admission is free. Visit the Museum on the web at www.naturalsciences.org. The Museum is an agency of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, John Skvarla., Secretary.

Publish Date: 
Tuesday, September 3, 2013