The Creative Heart of The Outer Banks

This past Saturday was Small Store Saturday and it’s tough to know if anyone here on the Outer Banks or anywhere really thought about it too much–except for the newscasts which seemed pervasive.

It is a good reminder, though, of how vibrant and unique Outer Banks retailers are.

This is a remarkably creative community with some wonderful art galleries to prove it. It would take almost no planning at all to spend a day doing nothing but touring local galleries. At the risk of missing one or more of someone’s all time favorite gallery, here is a partial list of personal favorites.

The Dare County Arts Council gallery is in the old county courthouse in the heart ofManteo. It probably contains the broadest array of local work on the Outer Banks. The Arts Council has always filled their walls with some of the finest visual art to be found, but over the past year they have been expanding their selection of day to day art–pottery, jewelry, hats–items that tend to fit a little more comfortably into day to day budgets. Additionally, Manteo is the only town on the Outer Banks that has a true downtown and wandering around the town for a few hours is a real treat.

Glenn Eure Ghost Fleet Gallery in Nags Head has been a mainstay of the local gallery scene for over 30 years, and Glenn’s artwork is wide-ranging and often visually stunning. There is always a local artist on display and the gallery hosts a literary open mic on the second Tuesday of every month. The gallery is worth a visit, if for no other reason than to meet Glenn, who never met a joke he didn’t like, a woman who wasn’t beautiful or a person who wasn’t his friend.

Just a little farther north, in Kill Devil Hills, the KDH Coop is an artist’s cooperative located in a rambling old house. It is not possible to describe the diversity of artwork on display. Jewelry, painting, pottery, photography–the full gamut of visual artistic expression.

Since this is a gallery tour and the trek is heading north (which is the case right now) keep going to Duck.

Just before the main shopping district of Duck–but very connected to it, the Greenleaf Gallery is in a beautifully restored house that seems to have magnificent artwork in every room. Collections include national as well as local artwork, and North Carolina and the Outer Banks are well represented.

One of the nice things about Duck are the walkways that connect everything, and it’s a quick trip to Scarborough Fair with its two or three stores featuring artwork and gifts.

About 20 minutes up the road from Duck, the Village of Corolla is nestled at the base of the Currituck Beach Lighthouse, although the whole area north of Duck goes by the same name.

The Dolphin Watch Gallery is tucked away at the end of a little alcove area in Timbuck II which is about three miles south of the lighthouse. Owned by Dennis and Mary Kaye Umberger, most of the art is created by the couple including the paintings, etchings, and stained glass. Their work is a little bit different–certainly unique, and the nice thing is, you get to speak to the artist.

Especially during the off season, be sure to call the galleries. Hours become somewhat flexible at this time of the year.

Phone numbers:

Dare County Arts Council: 252-743-5558

Glenn Eure’s Ghost Fleet Gallery: 252-441-6584

KDH Coop: 252-441-9888

Greenleaf Gallery: 252.261.2009

Dolphin Watch: 252-453-2592