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Alta Vista Gallery to show four new artists

Article Published: May. 22 | Modified: May. 22
Alta Vista Gallery to show four new artists

'Forest Lights' by Jeremy Sams

Alta Vista Gallery in Historic Valle Crucis is showing four new artists this season, in addition to its regular group of more than 100 artisans.

The four new artists, whose paintings are hanging now, include Jeremy Sams, Margaret Locke, Karen Spencer and Donna Robertson.

Sams is an award-winning plein air painter, having recently won several more competitions again this year. Sams is masterful at capturing light and shadow in his very realistic acrylic paintings, which often depict the sun breaking through to bathe forests and streams, gallery owner Maria Santomasso Hyde said.

Many of Sams’ landscapes feature the areas around Valle Crucis, Banner Elk, and Todd, and he paints in a variety of sizes.

One of Sams’ paintings at Alta Vista measures 36 by 25 inches and is titled “Resting in Peace.” Sams said it was painted from a plein air study of a place that he found last summer near Fleetwood.

“After driving down some dirt road looking for a spot to paint, I stopped in this dark wooded valley just to catch my bearings and take a break from the heat,” he said. “After I got out of my car and walked around a bit, I could feel a coolness in the air, and I heard the trickle of a creek, which made me want to explore a bit more. There were these lovely little plants with their bright reddish pink flowers that I later found out were Indian Pinks — and there in the distance was this huge hemlock. As I started to paint, the light broke through and lit up the tree and its background. Right place at the right time; lucky me!”

Locke is also a very realistic painter, Hyde said, but she is a watercolorist with a style that many people refer to as “the most unique I’ve ever seen.”

Although realistic, her images are also somewhat fantasy-like, due to strong colors, including metallic gold. Hyde said nature lovers are sure to enjoy the flora and fauna in Locke’s work, including mountain laurel, pokeberries and thistle, along with cows, trout and wild turkeys.

Her art is inspired by the landscapes of the Appalachian region she lives in. Locke said she does not draw out her ideas, but she mentally paints the picture in her imagination and then transfers that image to her painting. The colors and patterns are very real to her, and sometimes the end result is unexpected, as she feels that the process of all her art is an adventure.

Spencer said that she “paints with paper” to create her mixed-media works that include handmade papers and sometimes oil and cold wax, as well. Of the four new Alta Vista Gallery artists, Spencer’s paintings are the most contemporary, featuring a very bold color palette and loose style.

Spencer said, “Texture and bright colors are my hallmarks. When I create, I use an open-ended process of experimentation with a variety of materials to see what ‘happy accidents’ might occur. I let the emerging forms lead me until, at some point, I realize the piece is finished. Working this way keeps me on my toes and just plain makes me happy, and I hope that my work will make viewers happy, too.”

Robertson’s oils are the result of a class in the French impressionist painters.

“After that class, I’ve focused on oils in the impressionist style, although I painted watercolors for 17 years,” she said. “My oils are soft, like my watercolors.”

Robertson’s oils at Alta Vista are small — perfect for the first-time art buyer or the avid collector who does not have much wall space left, Hyde said.

“I love intimate paintings,” Robertson said, “like a close-up of swirls of water in a mountain stream.”
Alta Vista Gallery will also continue its tradition of hosting opening receptions on the fourth Saturday of each month, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., June through October, as part of the Tour de Art.

The June 28 reception will feature best-selling artist Joan Sporn’s 23 new paintings in a show, titled “TREES and More,” which will hang from mid-June through mid-July.

Alta Vista Gallery shows more than 100 artists in oils, pastels, watercolors, mixed-media and limited edition prints, as well as stained-glass, fused glass, handmade jewelry, art tiles and Mangum Pottery.
The gallery is located in a National Register of Historic Properties farmhouse at 2839 Broadstone Road in Valle Crucis, between the Mast Farm Inn and Mast Store Annex.

For more information, including a map and directions, visit, or call (828) 963-5247.

Gallery Times

Gallery Times is a weekly news feature of The Mountain Times, featuring news items submitted by local galleries.

For more information or to make a submission, contact editor Frank Ruggiero at ( or (828) 264-6397.

Additional Images

'Forest Lights' by Jeremy Sams

'Wildflowers' by Karen Spencer

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