Alta Vista turns 20

Article Published: Oct. 21, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
Alta Vista turns 20

"Valle Crucis" by Sheila Hancock

Alta Vista Gallery owner Maria Santomasso-Hyde is throwing a party.

"Surviving in the art business is tough, so I figured 20 years is something to celebrate," she said.

Saturday, the Valle Crucis gallery will be celebrating its anniversary in style, with a special reception to introduce its newest artist, Sheila Hancock. The newest of more than 100 artists rep Marc Steiner resented at Alta Vista, Hancock will be at the celebration personally to mark the anniversary.

Hancock isn't the only artist being celebrated, however. The gallery also plans to honor folk artist Will Moses (heir of Grandma Moses) who has been with the gallery since its inception, watercolorists Jean Baird and Ron Skelton (both 12 years with the gallery), oil painters Joan Sporn and Bennette Rowan (both 11 years with the gallery) and Jean Pollack (10 years with the gallery).

While some of the artists haven't changed, the work certainly has.

"You'll always be amazed by how it keeps changing," Santomasso-Hyde said. "Not only new artists, but new styles, colors and techniques."

Alta Vista Gallery, located at 2839 Broadstone Road in Valle Crucis, is hosting the reception Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, check out

Meet Sheila Hancock

Sheila Hancock could be to the High Country what Monet is to his water lilies. Her landscapes are more than oil impressions on a canvas. They're a mystery, a finely tuned enigma born of both obsession and passion.

"I paint every day," she said.

Inside or outside, it matters very little to Hancock. She just loves to paint.

"I've always painted," she said. "I've drawn and painted everything since I was a child."

And it's not just about the product. It's about the process.

"It's a great stress reliever," she said. "It's also very comforting. I can just go right into the picture. Because I'm a landscape artist, I can visit anywhere I want while I paint."

Whether it's a scene from a trip to France or a jaunt down N.C. 194 to the cattle pastures, she can bring the landscape directly into her Atlanta, Ga., studio. But with a home in Boone, it's easier than ever for her to capture the High Country on canvas.

"You cannot beat the scenes and the vistas in Boone, in the High Country," she said. "It's just beautiful. It just works perfectly with my palette."

It's a palette that consists of grayed down colors and impressions reminiscent of the greats, Monet and Pissarro.

"I love their work," she said. "Their paintings leave mystery in a painting. It's not so in-your-face.

When you look at it, you can imagine what's back in those trees or what's back in the house ... it's a lot looser and has more mystery."

It's that mystery that keeps her hooked.

Hancock, a former psychologist before returning to her love of oil full time, is proud to display her work at Alta Vista's 20th anniversary party.

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