The Road Less Traveled

April 16, 2009 at 11:46 pm (The Road Less Traveled)

I was born in Miami, Florida and moved to Raleigh eight years ago. I always tease my husband and say that, “I moved to Raleigh and became an artist… Who knew?” Although I have been to the mountains of North Carolina and to the coast, like many of us, I very rarely venture beyond the 15 mile radius between my house and my studio at Artspace.

Today, however, I had the pleasure of visiting The Rocky Mount Art Center. Located about 60 miles outside of Raleigh, The Art Center is located in The Imperial Art Centre for the Arts and Sciences in Downtown Rocky Mount. Occupying the combined former sites of the Imperial Tobacco company and old Braswell Memorial Library in downtown Rocky Mount, the complex houses an Arts Center, Children’s Museum & Science Center, and community performing arts theatre. The 135,000 square foot facility involved the historic restoration and renovation of the old buildings which had been dormant for more than 50 years.
Now, when you are traveling with children, first thing is first… The Science Center and The Children’s Museum. Once we were done with that, however, we wandered over to the art and fine craft galleries in The Art Center. The Art Center features an impressive display of fine craft in its exhibition halls and permanent collection gallery. Current exhibitions on display include Handcrafted, A Continual Journey: Jewelry and Objects, and Within.

The exhibition I was most interested in was Robert Ebendorf’s Jewelry and Objects. When I first started making jewelry, I saw Robert Ebendorf’s Off the Street, From the Beach necklace (pictured on right) in a magazine. This necklace is made from a collection of colorful plastic objects found on the boardwalks, parking lots, and sidewalks of Santa Monica. I could say that he was the inspiration for me to explore found objects in my own work. His work is included in some of the most celebrated museum collections in the world including The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, The Victoria and Albert Museum in England, and The Mint Museum of Craft and Design in North Carolina (Charlotte). Currently, he is the Carol Grotnes Belk Distinguished Professor in East Carolina University’s School of Art and Design, which in my opinion makes him a North Carolina treasure. On display at The Rocky Mount Art Center are over 80 pieces spread out between the North Carolina Gallery (downstairs) and the Artists Gallery (upstairs), including the From the Beach… necklace. Ebendorf takes the ordinary and makes it extraordinary proving that he is truly master of the medium. A Continual Journey: Jewelry and Objects will be on Exhibition at The Rocky Mount Art Center through May 17th.
Also on the second floor of The Rocky Mount Art Center is Andrew Fullwood’s Within. Like Robert Ebendorf, Fullwood makes the ordinary, in this case a “promising log”, and makes it truly extraordinary. His sculptures are created from single pieces of natural wood and transformed into complex sculptures through the use of chainsaws, chisels, files, rasps and fine grade sand paper. He says, “With my sculpture, I want to generate curiousity, allurement, and excitement, and I want there to be an element of surprise.” That he did. To my unexpected surprise, this exhibition was highlight of my visit to The Rocky Mount Art Center. Within runs through May 24th.
Admission to The Rocky Mount Art Center is free. The Art Center does have a children’s area with creation stations in which the children can create their own masterpieces. There is even a play stage and costumes in case the kids want to try their hand at the performing arts. There is a nominal admission fee for The Science Center and Children’s Museum Tuesday throught Saturday, but on Sundays, admission to The Science Center and Children’s Museum is free.
So, I encourage you to take the road less traveled and journey beyond your 15 mile radius this spring. You never know what affordable treasures you might find right in your own backyard.


  1. Catherine Coulter said,

    I have just been made aware of your blog about the Rocky Mount Arts Center and am so honored by your attention and hearty encouragement for others to visit us. What a wonderful article! Thank you so much for writing it. I am forwarding it to Bob Ebendorf and Andrew Fullwood. Please let me know next time you make a visit, I would be pleased to meet you.
    Sincerely, Catherine Coulter, Curator.


    • onlylauren said,

      Thank you so much for reading my post. I really enjoyed my visit to The Rocky Mount Art Center and have been there one other time since my initial visit. It is truly a hidden gem here in North Carolina.


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