History museum premiers ‘Art Through the Ages’ exhibit

History museum premiers ‘Art Through the Ages’ exhibit

Tomeka Sinclair Features editor

			
				                                The “Art Through the Ages” Exhibit is now on display at the Robeson County History Museum in Lumberton. The exhibit features a mix of art created by several artists over the past seven decades.

The “Art Through the Ages” Exhibit is now on display at the Robeson County History Museum in Lumberton. The exhibit features a mix of art created by several artists over the past seven decades.

<p>Shown is an artwork by an unknown artist at the Robeson County History Museum. The painting contains a sticker on the back signed by the late Benjamin Forest Williams, a Lumberton native, and the first curator of N.C. Museum of Art.</p>

Shown is an artwork by an unknown artist at the Robeson County History Museum. The painting contains a sticker on the back signed by the late Benjamin Forest Williams, a Lumberton native, and the first curator of N.C. Museum of Art.

<p>Shown is a paper mache angel by the late Grace Martin Collins. The piece among others can be viewed at the Robeson County History Museum,</p>

Shown is a paper mache angel by the late Grace Martin Collins. The piece among others can be viewed at the Robeson County History Museum,

<p>Shown are works by veteran Glenn Franklin Hayes, who was employed for 31 years at the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. After retiring from the United States military he painted collections like the one shown depicting the process of tobacco production.</p>

Shown are works by veteran Glenn Franklin Hayes, who was employed for 31 years at the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. After retiring from the United States military he painted collections like the one shown depicting the process of tobacco production.

LUMBERTON — The late Benjamin Forest Williams is known for many things; most notable being the first curator of N.C. Museum of Art.

What many don’t know is that his roots tie back to Lumberton, where he was born on Christmas Day back in 1925. His mother, Mamie Williams, was Lumberton’s postmaster until 1958.

An artist, he studied at the Corcoran School of Art and Black Mountain College before ultimately receiving a degree from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. He then studied in France with Henri Matisse before being recalled to North Carolina to join the North Carolina Museum of Art in 1949, where he was appointed Curator in 1956 and served until 1979. He also served as North Carolina State University’s Curator of Art, and was instrumental in starting the Friends of the College series and the Gregg Museum.

Williams’ footprint returns to his home in Lumberton, through the Robeson County History Museum’s latest exhibit “Art Through the Ages.”

Though the exhibit, the museum demonstrates how art transcends time in many different forms. Some of the art features the work of artists of the past, and some more contemporary artists — most being from the creative minds and hands of Robeson County’s own.

The idea for the exhibit came about because of the collection of art already accumulated by the museum.

“We have a lot of pieces here that are museum pieces,” said Faye Middleton, president of the museum. “They’re done by local people and they’re done locally.”

Those who walk through the museum will see a variety of works over the past seven decades.

Works will include those by Lumbee artist Joan Blackwell, who uses a mix of medium and experiments with texture to tell the story of Lumbee American Indian traditions and culture.

Three-dimensional art in the form of paper mache is also on display by Fairmont artist Grace Martin Collins, who completed the works over the periods of the 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s. Collins is able to capture nature in motion in her works, said Monica Doares, who loaned art from her own collection to the museum for the exhibit.

“The delicacy and the details on the leaves….” Doares said of one piece depicting a hummin bird floating on a branch.

Photography by Nancy Johnson and carved gourds by Pembroke artist Frank Harris is also on display at the exhibit, Middleton said.

One of the paintings on display by an unknown artist is believed to have crossed the desk of Benjamin Williams during his time at the NCMA, as discovered by Doares, who also worked at the museum. The image was borrowed from Charles Campbell, who said the painting belonged to his family.

While searching for the painting’s origins, Doares was able to unearth the connection Williams had to it and Lumberton. She discovered that years ago the painting was damaged while the Campbells where renovating the kitchen and brought to the NCMA to be repaired which was often done at the time.

“When you have something repaired at the museum and you’re trying to get it out, somebody has to sign it and he (Williams) did,” Doares said. “We thought he was the painter but having worked their (NCMA) I realized that he was the guy that released the painting back to its owner.”

Doares believes the painting shares the creator of another two paintings on display at the History Museum, which was by an itinerant artist. These type of artists travelled from town to town to “earn their keep” by producing paintings of the local surroundings for residents, Doares said.

“You can tell that the technique from the trees and the sky —it’s all the same guy,” Doares said.

There are some art pieces available for purchase and there are many art pieces that are on exhibit for those to look at and “appreciate the creative spirit of the artist.”

The museum is free and open to the public Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to noon and Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. Exceptions are made on major holidays.

Tomeka Sinclair can be reached at [email protected] or 910-416-5865.