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Contact: Emelia.Cowans@naturalsciences.org ; 919.733.7450, x305
Coastal Birds and Their Fragile Habitats opens at Nature Art Gallery February 4
Oil paintings depicting birds in their natural habitats will be featured in the newest show to debut at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences’ Nature Art Gallery. Coastal Birds and their Fragile Habitats showcases the work of North Carolina artist Ralph Grady James beginning February 4 and running through February 27. James will be in attendance at a reception to celebrate the opening of the exhibit during First Friday, February 4 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
This show of paintings is a celebration of the Hatteras National Seashore and the shore birds that make their home there. This area of the North Carolina coast is a sanctuary for these birds in an ever shrinking habitat. In addition to artistically capturing the wetlands and varying characteristics of the different species of shore birds on canvas, James also hopes to bring attention to the importance of preserving habitats for future generations.
James paints a wide variety of subject matter including wildlife, landscape, still-life and figurative works, but birds and water are a large part of his work. He became enthralled with water birds after an experience he had as a boy. “I remember when I was young and a great blue heron flew over me and settled close by,” says James. “The seven-foot wingspan made it seem like a silent airliner going by. When it settled and began its silent hunt a hush seemed to settle on the pond. I was completely taken by this event and the image of that great bird has always stayed with me.”
James is primarily a self-taught artist. His earliest influence was his own father, Eugene James, an artist, architect and engineer whom he began emulating as a young boy. Later influences were artist, sculptor and published illustrator of children’s books Heiner Hertling. Other local artists who are members of his weekly drawing group have also inspired him to continually grow in his abilities.
Living in the central part of the state in Mocksville, James has always felt fortunate to have ready access to the coast or the mountains and spends time working in both places. His work has been juried into prestigious national and international shows such as Leigh Yawkey Woodson Birds in Art exhibit and national tour, Paint America, Paint the Parks exhibit and national tour, American Impressionist Society National Juried Exhibition and Salon International, Greenhouse Gallery, San Antonio, Texas.
One of his paintings was also purchased by the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Museum. He is represented by Germanton Gallery, Greensboro, 16 Patton Gallery, Asheville, and Edward Dare Gallery, Charleston, South Carolina.
The Nature Art Gallery is located on the top floor of the Museum Store. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, Noon to 5 p.m.; open until 9 p.m. on First Fridays. All exhibited art is for sale. For more information about the Nature Art Gallery, call 919.733.7450, x360.