If I asked you to think of a city known for celebrating the arts, what comes to mind? Likely New York, Chicago, even Santa Fe would make the top of your list.
Would it surprise you if I suggested adding the charming town of Lenoir? You may be surprised to learn that Lenoir has a thriving arts community—and one that deserves some attention.
Within minutes of arriving in downtown Lenoir it becomes clear that art is deeply woven into this community’s fabric. It’s no coincidence that sculptures in various mediums are on display throughout the downtown area. Known as Tucker’s Sculpture Gallery, the pieces are created by local artisans and are available for purchase. Sculptures are rotated out of the gallery every six months, ensuring there’s always something fresh and eye catching on display.
Sculpting is so ingrained in Lenoir that the city hosts the Caldwell Arts Council annual Sculpture Celebration every September. Artists from across the country display breathtaking creations in the hopes of winning recognition and prizes. If you’d like to take a self-guided tour to see the sculptural beauty found in and around Lenoir, click here to find an easy-to-follow map of sculpture locations.
But sculpture isn’t the only form of art that is thriving in Lenoir. Artists working in watercolor, oils, pottery, and mixed mediums have found a home here as well, and aren’t our lives the better for it? The Caldwell Arts Council holds a Visual Arts Exhibition which showcases the diversity of talent found in western North Carolina, as you’ll see artwork created on canvas, and through quilting, sculpting, and needle felting. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, someone creates something that just takes your breath away.
Which brings me to the work of J Nelson Brookshire, who takes breathtaking to a whole new level. Brookshire describes himself as a folk artist, but admits he’s had no formal art training (a fact that is hard to believe once you’ve seen his work). Brookshire uses paper—the pages of magazines in particular—to create small, colorful rolled tubes. He uses the tiny bits of paper to create spectacular art that is reminiscent of mosaics. He never uses paint, achieving nuanced shade and coloring by using what the magazine provides. What he creates is simply extraordinary.
I hope you’ll make plans to stop by Lenoir and immerse yourself in all the artistic beauty she has to offer. But be warned…doing so might just be the final straw that makes you decide to call Lenoir home.
And, really…would that be so bad? I don’t think so.