North Carolina Landscapes Featured In Painting Exhibition

Evensong - Franklin County, North Carolina
Evensong - Franklin County, North Carolina

WILSON, N.C. — Barton Art Galleries will host the work of acclaimed painter J. Chris Wilson in an exhibition titled “From Murphy to Manteo-An Artist’s Scenic Journey.” Although a native of Georgia, Wilson has resided in North Carolina since the early 1970s and brings to the audience a serene visage of natural wonder found in the state.

“From Murphy to Manteo-An Artist’s Scenic Journey” will be on display from November 8 to December 9. The opening reception is Sunday, Nov. 8, from 2 – 4 p.m. This event is open to the public free of charge, and the community is invited to attend. J. Chris Wilson will present a lecture on his work immediately following the opening reception. The lecture is open only to members of the Barton Friends of Visual Arts. For membership please call 252-399-6357, or join the Friends of Visual Arts at the event.  The exhibition will run until December 9.

In his paintings, Wilson presents an intimate detailed view of the splendor of the North Carolina landscape. Such an endeavor has often been the subject of photographs and etchings, but never before has there been as diverse a look at the natural environment undertaken in oil. The breadth of images in the series reflects an intense devotion to the state and the ideology of being from North Carolina. “I suppose, in retrospect, this entire journey began when I started to see myself as no longer a South Georgian and began feeling that I was now a tried-and-true North Carolinian,” said Wilson.

The paintings in this series did not materialize overnight, but have been developing for over a decade. Wilson’s intention is to produce 100 scenic views of North Carolina stretching across the state following US-64, literally from Murphy to Manteo. “My objective,” said Wilson, “was to seek what I considered to be the most visually impressive and interesting natural scenery whether that scenery was created totally by natural forces or by the hand of man.”

Wilson’s paintings began to take shape after returning from Japan, where he taught at a sister institution to Barton College. Having been previously exposed to Japanese wood block printing, Wilson found inspiration in the work of Ando Hiroshige, who produced serial prints focusing on scenic views along important rivers in the country. Returning to America, Wilson felt driven to produce his own series of works eliciting his home environment.

Rivers have had a long-standing history for serving as transportation routes. Wilson contemplated this notion and considered painting scenic views along the Tar River, which runs past his Edgecombe County home. Deciding there was not enough visual variety along the Tar, however, Wilson looked to a different artery of transport for his inspiration: US Highway 64.

The exhibit displays both studies for the monumental series as well as completed paintings. The latter of these are tremendous in scale, completely covering some of the galley walls. These large canvasses draw the viewer in filling their visual field creating the sense that one is actually there, standing in nature.

“Wilson has captured the essence of land,” said Gerard Lange, director of exhibitions at the Barton Art Galleries. “From rolling hills, to rushing water, to pensive mist-filled fields, one can become lost in the scenes as a Romantic poet might in their own introspections.”

In the paintings, Wilson has highlighted the grandeur of the land and also captured the emotion of bearing witness to the land. The result is a quite personal yet telling portrayal of North Carolina. It is Wilson’s hope that the viewers of his works will walk away with a heightened awareness of their state. “Perhaps these works may contribute to a new sense of appreciation for the essential good of the North Carolina landscape,” he said.

Gallery hours are Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with the exception of holidays.  For additional information, please contact Gerard Lange, director of exhibitions, at 252-399-6475 or email:


Questions?  Please contact Kathy Daughety, director of public relations, at 252-399-6529 or email: