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Bazaar show cases works by Down East artists

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Edgecombe County Cultural Arts Council members Johanna Owens, right, and Anna Aycock discuss artwork Thursday during the Great Tarboro Art Bazaar at the Blount-Bridgers House.

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Ross Chandler
Life Editor

Thursday, November 10, 2016

It's a great opportunity, yes, but the Great Tarboro Art Bazaar is more than just a convenient chance for art lovers to buy a holiday gift for a special person.

"Part of our mission is to promote regional artists, and this is our way of doing it," said Buddy Hooks, a member of the board of directors of the Edgecombe County Cultural Arts Council. "They come from almost every county that touches Edgecombe."

But the chance to enjoy the works and pick up a piece or two as Christmas presents did not escape the crowd that came to a council members-only opening reception Oct. 3 at the Blount-Bridgers House or the public when the bazaar threw its door open to everyone Friday morning.

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Thirty-two artists have placed works in the bazaar in media ranging from photography to printing to acrylic, watercolor and oil paintings.

One of the artists whose works Hooks finds striking is Steve Love. The artist uses a palette knife instead of a brush to apply paint to canvas to create medium-size and large abstracts.

"I'm thinking we're going to sell just about everything he brought," Hooks said. "His colors are great, and his style is quick. I think it will appeal to the millennial crowd."

A Love painting was one of two works taken in the first purchase awards the council has arranged for the bazaar. The painting was bought by Dr. Jennifer Taylor, a Tarboro dentist.

The other purchase award was for "On The Dunes," an ethereal oil painting of two figures by Sam Shelby of Roanoke Rapids. It was bought by Sharon Horton.

"His figures are easy to identify, but there's no faces on them," Hooks said of Shelby's works. "There was a time when people would come to the arts bazaar, go right to his pieces and grab them off the walls."

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Happenstance led the council to start the bazaar in the mid-1980s, said Meade Bridgers, who then was the group's executive director.

"The inspiration for it was a Christmas card I got that showed a Mideastern bazaar. I thought, ‘Goodness, that's what we need to have here — a real shopping bazaar,'" she said.

The first bazaar featured works by 40-plus artists, a number that grew sharply the second year.

Many of them were arts and crafts vendors, keeping with the idea of a Mideast theme, Bridgers said. Over time, they largely have moved to the Happening on the Common, a spring festival put on by the council, leaving the bazaar more for working artists, Hooks said.

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Some artists from the first bazaar such as Susan Fecho still contribute to the show. The artists from the inaugural bazaar also included Hooks, who now helps organize the show each year.

"He definitely was one of the first," said Bridgers, who retired from the council in 2002.

Fecho has several works in this year's bazaar. One mixed-media piece has appliqueed or collage pieces around which she has painted. Hooks said. Two others are prints made using paint applied to the fabric of vintage dresses which then were pressed against paper.

"I guess it would be called abstract. It's a recognizable object but in an abstract way," Hooks said.

Another artist whose works Hooks pointed out is Dion Burroughs of Williamston, a first-time participant in the bazaar. Hooks first saw the artist's works in a show at the Pitt County Arts Council.

"His work is very minimalist and very definitely spiritual and African-American," Hooks said. "He's excited like crazy to be participating."

Gallery hours for the bazaar, which runs through Nov. 18, are 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2-4 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and other times by appointment.

For information, call 823-4159.

The Blount-Bridgers House is at 130 Bridgers St., Tarboro.

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