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Lawn Arts

Article Published: Aug. 22, 2012 | Modified: Aug. 26, 2012
Lawn Arts

‘Warden’s Woods’ by Tonya Bottomley

Residents and visitors are fascinated with the natural beauty of the High Country – and especially the beauty of so many species of trees, with the sunlight filtering through the branches.

Oil painter Bob Francisco loves being outdoors so much that he’ll be painting outside on the front lawn at Alta Vista Gallery in Valle Crucis this Saturday, Aug. 25, as part of a new group show at the gallery. The show’s opening reception is Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

This group show includes local wood-turner Mike Flanigan and seven painters: Jean Baird, Tonya Bottomley, Francisco, Sheila Hancock, Bennette Rowan, Joan Sporn and Amos Westmoreland.

Each painter has depicted a local forest scene, which honors the forests where Flanigan’s bowls come from – hence the show’s title, “From Forests to Bowls.” The public is invited to attend and meet the artists.

Sporn, an Impressionist oil painter known for her use of color and texture, said, “I live in a forest in Linville, and one breezy day, I looked up at the tree canopy and thought, ‘Those trees look like they’re dancing.’ That’s how I created my new painting, ‘Dancing Trees.’”

Watercolorist Baird’s forest scene is highly realistic in the foreground, as the viewer peeks through the forest, but the background and sky are dreamlike, thanks to many layers of glazes.

Rowan’s contemporary style painting is reminiscent of Vincent Van Gogh’s work, and for good reason. After many hours of studying Van Gogh’s paintings, Rowan interpreted one of the master’s forest scenes from 1886.

Hancock’s Impressionist work depicts two deer in a forest near a Blue Ridge Parkway bridge. “I’m always seeing deer around my property, eating apples or drinking in the stream, and I think they’re so beautiful, so I decided to paint them into my forest scene,” she said.

Westmoreland’s oil shows Tanglewood Forest in early morning light, with a strong contrast between the dark forest and the brilliant first light. “I wanted to paint something really different, and I think I succeeded,” Westmoreland said.

Bottomley paints in a semi-abstract contemporary style and said, “I like to spend time in the forest – time to be alone, being introspective, in tune with natural surroundings. Even as a child, I was this way.”

Her new oils of forest scenes were inspired by the woodlands around her home and her fond memories of time spent in the forest as a child, she said. For instance, “The Secret Place” depicts a spot that Bottomley visits to relax and reflect.

Flanigan’s new bowls often feature natural bark edges or woods that are more than 100 years old.

“When I see a tree down, I get excited if it’s a wood that I can put on my lathe and turn, he said. “I especially like to find fruit and nut trees. Once, my wife, Lisa, went up to a home-owner’s door and asked if we could have their fallen tree. Now, a lot of people call me when they have a tree down that might be of use to me for wood-turning.”

Francisco plans to bring several small oils that he’ll be able to complete this Saturday while painting on the lawn of the gallery.

“The scenes that all of the artists painted for this show reflect the reason why I love to be in the mountains, because of the beauty of nature all around us,” Francisco said.

The show will hang from mid-August through mid-September, when the gallery will show new oils by Jean Pollock, “My Favorite Places.”

The Aug. 25 opening reception is a part of the “Tour de Art,” which takes place every fourth Saturday (June through November). Tour maps are available at Alta Vista Gallery and the 14 other stops on the tour.

Alta Vista Gallery shows 100 artists in oils, watercolors, pastels, and 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 Places farmhouse at 2839 Broadstone Road, Valle Crucis, N.C., between Mast Farm Inn and Mast Store Annex. For a map and directions, visit and, or call (828) 963-5247.

Gallery Times

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

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

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