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Artist turns abstract art into nature preservation

Article Published: Sep. 16, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011

Artist Jay Winston will be hosting an art showing at Christopher's Wine and Cheese in Blowing Rock Saturday, Sept. 19, from 5 to 8 p.m.

Winston's art is known for its abstract style painted in acrylics, and is also known for occasional depictions of otherworldly flowers and trees.

"My style is a cross between Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock," he said.

Winston's paintings often include the techniques associated with these two artists, including thick layers of paint.

"Winston paints abstract acrylics on canvas, and his medium is often layers and layers of vibrant acrylic paints, thus giving his pieces lots of texture and depth," Paula Winston, his wife, said.
The Winstons owned businesses in Oriental, N.C., but when Jay retired, he began living in the High Country and in Key West, Fla.

"My mother was from here," Winston said. "There is a big art community here, and the weather is fabulous."

Winston's mother was an oil painter, and Winston began taking art classes in childhood.
His artistic ventures began modestly; he painted for fun and did not charge for his paintings.

"I was giving my work away for years, because I just enjoyed painting, when someone said, 'Well, your work's worth money, so why don't you take a check and donate it to someone?'" Winston said.

Winston decided to donate all proceeds from his work to the Nature Conservancy, to the point that, upon purchasing one of Winston's paintings, the buyer simply writes a check out to the Nature Conservancy.

This organization has protected more than 119 million acres of land and 5,000 miles of rivers worldwide in its mission to "preserve the plants, animals and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive," according to its website.

Winston made his choice to benefit the Nature Conservancy for a number of reasons.
"I believe in their message," he said. "I've got grandkids, and I feel like conserving our future is important. They campaign for a sustainable planet, and they are the largest privately funded conservation group in the world."

The paintings are not the only creative outlet for Winston, who sees the impulse to create as important.

"I just really felt like I wanted to create something, and that was the direction that I went with," he said. "I've also worked on cars and done masonry and carpentry."
Winston has his paintings in both homes and corporate galleries from New York to Florida, and now Blowing Rock.

The event at Christopher's will have many of Winston's pieces for sale and will offer patrons the chance to meet the artist.

"We'd love for you to come and get some good art and make a donation to a wonderful organization," Winston said. "There will be refreshments; it's a good opportunity to see what Chris does, as well."

Christopher's Wine and Cheese is located on 110 Sunset Drive in Blowing Rock. For more information, call (828) 414-9111.

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