Outer Banks Artists and Manteo

An amazing weekend in Manteo. When the Dare County Arts Council took over the old courthouse, it was hoped that wonderful early 20th century brick building would lead an arts and creative resurgence in downtown Manteo.

It’s been three years since the Arts Council moved in and there is still a ways to go, but this past weekend was a good example of the potential the courthouse as an arts center has.

Things started on Friday night with the Manteo First Friday–which is held, not surprisingly, the first Friday of every month. Certainly during the summer and even into the fall, the events are better attended, but for a evening featuring nothing more than an art show and free music in early December, it was surprisingly well-attended.

The show featured the gallery’s annual Holiday Small Works Show, featuring smaller (and more affordable) original works of art from DCAC artists. It would be tough to pick out any one work, but there were a couple of pieces from Sally Ruff that really caught my eye.

Working with the other art galleries in downtown Manteo, the DCAC put the word our that this First Friday would be an art walk. There is no way of knowing just how successful as a concept that was. The weather didn’t really cooperate . . . a little bit of drizzle and some light rain, and the town of Manteo probably has a few things they need to tweak–a little better lighting would help–but there were people out and about.

The following night, the DCAC held it’s major fundraiser for the year, Chillin’ for the Arts. Held next door at 108 Budleigh–a venue that is usually reserved for weddings and large gatherings–the event was a wonderful combination of community, artistic expression and yes, it was very successful.

The outpouring of support from the community at large was astonishing–from small donations for a silent auction to bids on artwork donated by artists. There was also lots of food, since area restaurant chipped in with their own donations.

The Outer Banks as a generous and accepting community is a theme that we seem to always be returning to in our writings. The people who live here don’t always agree with one another–what a boring world it would be if we did–but there seems to be a widespread agreement on what it takes to have a successful community.

The DCAC fundraiser was held three months later that it was in the past, and traditionally it had been coupled with Artrageous–a day specifically geared toward the creativity of children. However, a quick glance at everything that was happening in early October convinced the council that it made no sense at all to try to compete against weekend after weekend of major events.

The two events were split up for some very practical reasons–after 24 or 25 years of doing everything the same way, it was time for a change. And just as importantly, almost everything at the DCAC is done by volunteers, and the volunteers called foul trying to organize and market two major events simultaneously.

Since we’re talking about the DCAC, their next major event will be the 34th Annual Frank Stick Memorial Art Show January 26 through February. A juried art show held at Glenn Eure Ghost Fleet Gallery in Nags Head, it is an outstanding example of how wide-ranging and talented Outer Banks artists are.