The Art of Gift Giving
Gifts wear out or go out of style – except electronic gadgets, which become obsolete pretty much as soon as you buy them. So why not take a different approach. This Holiday Season, give something that is unique, handmade, and, best of all, enduring.
Artists abound in Eastern North Carolina, turning paint, canvas, clay, metal, gems, and a myriad of other raw materials into works of art. Here in New Bern, there is no shortage of galleries that showcase local talent and craftsmanship. While the majority focus on local artists, some galleries have expanded their collections to include various parts of North Carolina, the South, and the East Coast.
Take a moment to learn more about some of the galleries in the area and the variety they bring to the art of gift giving.
Bank of the Arts
Bank of the Arts is located in a … you read ahead didn’t you? OK, it’s located in a former bank. Open since First Citizens Bank donated the grand building with granite columns to the local Arts Council in 1993, even the old vault is used to display art.
The gallery comes under the auspices of Craven Arts Council, a non-profit that provides resources for the local arts community, as well as events that support and enrich the community as a whole, such as Empty Bowls, an annual fund-raiser to fight hunger and support the arts. Each month a new show is unveiled in the Main Gallery, an single artist is featured in the Director’s Gallery and the gift shop plays host to dozens of artists and their creations.
Bank of the Arts, 317 Middle Street, New Bern
The Sanctuary is located in a former bird sanctuary. OK, it wasn’t. It is located on Trent Road in a former church built in the late 1950s.
Chris Wagner felt the pull of his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Corcoran School of Art and Design in Washington, DC and opened The Sanctuary in 2017. His gallery represents over a dozen regional and national artists with a diverse collection of paintings, drawings, sculpture and hand-crafted metal jewelry to complement any taste. One of the walls in the gallery feature Wagner’s own art (he specializes in landscapes and portraits).
The Sanctuary, 2601 Trent Road, New Bern
Before Carolina Creations was a gallery, it was a gallery, but the new owner changed careers.
Carolina Creations has been a downtown fixture for years, with Virginia Spencer buying the business from its founder, Janet Francoeur, in 2017. Spencer has an eclectic background. She is a trained florist and, when she was 43 years old, became an Army registered nurse, serving for four years before leaving active duty as a captain. In running the gallery, Spencer combines her florist’s eye for presentation and artistry with the experienced staff that came along with Carolina Creations when she bought it.
Carolina Creations began as a gallery featuring only North Carolina artists. While the focus continues to be that, they have added work from across North America. The gallery represents a vast selection of American, handcrafted, handmade, glass, pottery, wood, jewelry, paintings and gifts by local and nationally know artists. They choose the most exciting work they can find ranging from fun to fabulous.
Carolina Creations, 317-A Pollock Street, New Bern
Fine Art at Baxters gallery
The gallery known as Fine Art at Baxters had been a jewelry store. The building was erected around 1915 and purchased by the Baxter family, who had been in the jewelry business since 1892, for $20,000 in 1917. It remains the home of the famed four-faced Baxter’s Clock that is listed on the National Register.
Representing about 60 local and East Coast artists, the gallery features original paintings as well as works in the fine art media of glass, ceramics, pottery, sculpture, and jewelry. They are proud to represent artists that consistently produce high quality work.
Fine Art at Baxters, 323 Pollock Street, New Bern