Arts Facilities Throughout Region Ensure Visual Delights at Every Turn

Art abounds in Rocky Mount, especially the visual arts variety. The area has developed into a nexus of creative inspiration, allowing art aficionados and casual day-trippers alike to behold works by artists repre­senting every level of training and experience – from schoolchildren to folk artists to experienced regional and international fine artists and skilled craftspeople.

Even venues best known for per­forming arts dedicate space to visual art exhibits. For instance, the Dunn Center for the Performing Arts at North Carolina Wesleyan College has two visual art galleries – the Mims Gallery and the Civic Gallery. The world-renowned Four Sisters Gallery is located nearby in NCWC’s Pearsall Building.

The 2,000-square-foot Mims Gallery features professional and international artists. Their subjects often reference key cultural issues, says Everett Adelman, director and curator of galleries at North Carolina Wesleyan College.

“We include works of a political nature, works that highlight ethnic issues [and] natural disasters,” Adelman explains, referring to a recent Hurricane Katrina show.

“It [the Mims Gallery] has had major shows originate there, such as an African-American quilt show that toured all over the country,” he adds.

The Civic Gallery showcases art from the community, and the Four Sisters Gallery features the very personal works of self-taught, visionary artists from the Coastal Plain.

One such artist, 27-year-old Demarquis Johnson, exhibits in late November 2008. Johnson paints scenes depicting black community life on found materials such as cardboard boxes and paper bags, Adelman says.

He further notes that the Four Sisters Gallery has “had an enormous impact on contemporary, self-taught art.”

NCWC’s galleries are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and during performances at the Dunn Center. To learn more about upcoming exhibits, visit and click on “Dunn Center.”

Likewise, the Nash Arts Center, primarily a performing arts venue and headquarters of the Nash County Arts Council, displays visual art despite its limited space.

“We’re in an old Baptist Church, so we still have the pews and everything,” says Cheryl Stanton, president. “We’ll set up [exhibits] periodically on the stage, and we also have a side stage that we call ‘the Gallery,’ where we have easels and pedestals and whatever the artists might need to display their work.”

Shows at the Nash Arts Center include the works of up-and-coming local and regional artists, as well as area students and art teachers.

“Currently, we have permanent gallery exhibitions of jewelry and pottery by two local artists,” Stanton says.

Find more information on the Nash Arts Center at

The area’s largest and best-known resource for visual art is the Rocky Mount Arts Center, located at the Imperial Centre for the Arts and Sciences. The center boasts nine galleries, a sculpture park, a 40,000-square-foot education wing, and the GalleryShop, where visitors can purchase pottery, metal sculpture, baskets, fiber works, paintings and more, all created by regional artists.

In addition to hosting three national juried exhibitions each year, the arts center offers classes, workshops, lectures, tours to other venues and critiques to interested artists, says Catherine Coulter, arts program coordinator.

“The arts center [also] offers classes for children ages 3 to adult in ceramics, painting, drawing, Japanese embroidery, basketry and more. Open studios in painting, watercolor, ceramics and callig­raphy are also available.”

From June through Sept. 21, 2008, the Rocky Mount Arts Center hosts the prestigious North Carolina Artist Fellowship Exhibition.

“The Arts Center is very honored to have been chosen by the North Carolina Arts Council to host this exhibit,” Coulter says. “It is the first time in more than a decade this exhibition has been in the eastern part of the state.”

Additional upcoming exhibits at the center are listed under the Community Resources section of the city’s Web site at

“We exhibit more than 25 shows a year,” Coulter says, “so there is always something new to experience.”

Gallery hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Admission is free.