Asheville Gallery of Art’s February show, “Fresh Paint,” features the work of two new members. Joseph Pearson’s figurative work and Susan Webb Tregay’s folk-art inspired paintings provide a thought-provoking and captivating display. The show runs February 1-28 during gallery hours, will host a reception for the artists on Friday, February 1, from 5-8 p.m.
In the summer of 1970, Joseph A. Pearson arrived by bus at New York City’s Port Authority, the end of a long trip that began in Mississippi. It was the first time the recent Jackson State graduate had traveled north of his home state. Joseph’s New York journey, to study at the Art Students League for 5 years under full scholarship, was his first step in a lifelong odyssey to become a social realist painter.
His lifetime of creativity reflects his belief in the power of art to provoke and expand society’s imagination. “I see my role as both observer and activist,” he says. “I watch what’s going on around me, internalize and mix it with my own creative interpretation, and reflect it back to society.”
For this show, Joseph is presenting paintings from a body of work on recycling and renewal that began with an investigation into how nature reclaims elements through decay and deterioration. “I am using the female form to represent the idea of rebirth, renewal, and repurposing. One element changes into another form. In this case, the female form morphs into the new element or product.
These paintings combine traditional oil painting with disparate recyclable elements.” Joseph, a multi-award winning artist, has recently completed a mural and paintings of historic Black businesses in Asheville for the Benne on Eagle restaurant at the new Foundry Hotel.
With brilliant colors and a unique technique, Susan Webb Tregay blends her thoughts on childhood with her love of Southern Folk Art, her traditional art education, and 30 years of painting experience.
Susan says her “palette took a walk on the wild side” eleven years ago when she moved from Buffalo, NY, and met the late Ted Oliver of Oliver’s Folk Art in her new hometown of Hendersonville, NC. Ted’s enthusiasm for folk art educated her in the ways these artists were concerned about expressing their ideas before they even considered media or technique. “Unlike what was encouraged in Buffalo, I found that content could be cheerful and expressed in fun, bright colors.”
The works featured in the show are part of series in acrylics she calls “Art for Adult Children,” which recall her memories of the freedoms of childhood. The Hickory Museum of Art and the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts in Boone, NC, have both honored the series with museum shows.
Although, like many artists, she has painted since she was a child, her breakthrough in art came through a submersion in the medium of watercolor as an adult. She is a signature member of both the American Watercolor Society and the National Watercolor Society and has won major awards nationally and internationally. She is the author of many articles, two books, and formerly served as art critic for a Rockford, IL, newspaper.
The work of Pearson and Tregay, as well as the work of the other 29 gallery members, will be on display and for sale through the month of February. For further information about this show, contact Asheville Gallery of Art at (828) 251-5796, visit the gallery’s website, www.ashevillegallery-of-art.com, or the gallery’s Facebook page. Hours are 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11-4 p.m. Sunday. AGA is located at 82 Patton Ave in downtown Asheville across from Pritchard Park.