Arts Visual Arts

The Gallery at Flat Rock Presents The Quarantine Painters

Gallery at Flat Rock Quarantine Painters

(Left) House on Starnes Avenue. Mitch Kolbe, artist. (Right) Roses in Montford. Jim Carson, artist

A group of Western North Carolina painters that has been gathering for plein air outings during this time of distancing will exhibit works at The Gallery at Flat Rock from Thursday, July 9, through Sunday, July 26. The Quarantine Painters includes works by Scott Boyle, Jim Carson, Gary Cooley, Mitch Kolbe, Rich Nelson and Richard Oversmith, all members of Plein Air Painters of the Southeast (PAPSE). The exhibition, available online and in the gallery, is free and open to the public. A plein air opening will be held at the gallery on Saturday, July 11, from 3–5 p.m., with the featured artists painting outdoors at scattered spots and answering questions about their techniques. Limited groups will be allowed in the gallery to view the exhibition. Refreshments from Our Recipe Roots, newly opened downstairs from The Gallery at Flat Rock, will be served.

“This spring, since the pandemic and the required social distancing has caused the organized plein air events and competitions we would have been involved with to be canceled, we now find ourselves with more time to paint together as friends outside, which is really more fun,” says Boyle, who lives near Gastonia and looks forward to traveling to the Southern Appalachian Mountains to paint.

Artist Rich Nelson

The plan to paint together was something the artists, all geographically close, had wanted to do for some time, Carson says. Sites visited so far include a South Carolina peach orchard, the Broad River near Chimney Rock and the countryside northwest of Asheville. “It is easy to forget what a wonderful experience painting from life can be,” says Carson, who often paints at festivals and PAPSE events, where, he adds, there is the pressure to produce a good painting. “Here, we are free to experiment, to do something a little different and even fail without shame.” A Saluda resident, he and Cooley, from Hendersonville, are both featured artists at The Gallery of Flat Rock.

Nelson, of Tryon, enjoys painting alone, but says “it’s also great to see talented friends sharing the same struggles, trying to make art outdoors, in the moment.” The artists agree that painting together is a way to learn from one another and further develop their own talents.

“I am a social creature and I always enjoy getting together with like-minded artists,” Boyle says. “But it’s ultimately about everyone’s struggle of translating the three-dimensional world of light on a small two-dimensional canvas with paint, and sharing our end results. It also makes our pandemic world feel almost normal again.”

The Gallery at Flat Rock is at Flat Rock Square, 2702-A Greenville Highway, Flat Rock. Current gallery hours are Thursday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; or by appointment. For more, visit or call 828.698.7000.

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