Fine-Art Finds

BY Marimar McNaughton

Finding fine art is a pleasant plunder from the east to the west side of Wilmington where full-service galleries cater to the artist and the connoisseur. We found four that define fine art in one-of-a-kind original work made by the artist’s hand. Closer to home we discovered an enterprising young woman who set up an over-the-top studio one flight above North Lumina Avenue.

This is the first in a series of art features. We hope you enjoy the journey.

Spectrum Gallery
The Forum
All that glitters

Colorful hand-blown glass bowls twinkle in the windows of the Spectrum Gallery at The Forum but all that glitters inside is not glass. Fresh paintings of lively coastal scenes cover the walls with changing exhibits monthly but Spectrum’s unique niche in the marketplace is its collection of gemstone jewelry.

Gallery owner and fine-jewelry designer Star Sosa takes the gallery’s center stage. Sosa’s designs are inspired by the jewelry of ancient Egyptian Greek and Roman cultures. She is also enamored of the Art Deco movement of the 1920s.

“I like high-carat gold and gemstones ” Sosa says. “I love rocks ”

She did not study art in college and took only one art history class but Sosa is obsessed with sacred geometry professing “an affinity for triangles.”

She believes certain geometric relationships are hardwired into the brain and like many in the esoteric fields of art and science believes that there are no new ideas on the planet only new presentations for new audiences.

Currently Sosa’s creative energy is in designing jewelry for her clients. She also creates beaded earrings necklaces and bracelets with her gallery manager Nancy Noel May.

May is Spectrum’s best-selling artist of 2006. She has been gallery manager for seven years and has been painting for 40 years. May has always lived near the water first on the Chesapeake Bay near Buckroe Beach then in Hampton Virginia.

She is inspired by Henri Matisse especially the patterns the palette and the interiors with a view. “I paint where I would like to be ” she says.

May loves to travel to South Carolina and Florida and in March she returns to Italy. She plans time for plein-air painting but will also take a sketchbook and a digital camera.

“When I’m looking through the viewfinder I’m looking at a painting ” May says.


Walls Fine Art Gallery
Wrightsville Avenue
No small talk

I like a painting that makes a room ” David Leadman says. “Size does not always matter does not always mean strength. A painting can mean vista ” the owner of Walls Gallery adds.

“Paintings can blend the fabric of the room together tie the fabric together ” he says.

“Weave ” his wife and partner Nancy Marshall suggests.

Their dialogue sums up how this pair works best. In a bit of self-casting Leadman plays the heavy as President of Ideas and Direction. Marshall the Director of End Results executes the plans with pleasure and a bit of panache.

She echoes her husband’s philosophy that a painting has the ability to transport the viewer.

“‘Art is the only way you can run away and still stay home ’” Marshall quotes contemporary American dance choreographer Twyla Tharp.

She described the open floor plans that characterize area homes.

“The impact of one piece may carry five rooms in the architecture we’re seeing around here ” she says.

Leadman and Marshall do not merely sell paintings. They place them in context; the context of what their client loves; the context of where their client lives including furnishings and decorative accessories.

Leadman’s method is intensely personal.

“It’s for me to understand why you love what you love. What is the hook for you? What is going to complete what you have?” Leadman asks.

“It’s what I do ” he says. “I take the information and translate that as fast as I can into the best that you can get for what you can afford.”

“I don’t care what someone is looking for I ought to be able to find it ” he adds.

“We have an expense level for whatever you want to do.”

In one breath Leadman says art is in the eye of the beholder. In the next he says that the painting must match the standard of quality of the house and the furnishings.

“There is a certain language that quality speaks to quality ” he explains.

A few pieces of sculpture are displayed but paintings dominate the interior space at Walls Gallery which was a former 7-Eleven before Leadman set up shop 20 years ago.

“I try to handle artists here that I won’t be able to afford in five years ” Leadman said.

Working exclusively with the top-10 frame makers in the country Leadman has each piece custom framed with hand-carved frames finished in 22-karat gold.

“Art makes a difference in your life ” Leadman says.“If it has no value to you why spend money on it?”


Fountainside Gallery
Lumina Station
Authentic exclusive original

FountainSide Gallery owner Denise Smith cultivates collectors and nurtures artists by representing the work of national painters and of regional painters and craftsmen who are exclusive to the Wrightsville Beach and Wilmington area. She offers original work for the collector. For the artists she develops their Southeastern reputation by mounting exhibits and offering gallery talks to emerging buyers long-time collectors and corporate investors. Smith has been in this location for six years.

“We’re trying to find a threshold ” Smith says referring figuratively to the art world and its many parameters and literally to a context for the work she presents.

Gallery manager Linda Penrose creates displays of two- and three-dimensional art in vignettes pairing paintings with fine craft and furnishings to help buyers imagine how art might figure in their home or office. At the same time these vignettes create a feeling of comfort and ease in a fine-art setting. As an added service FountainSide permits prospective buyers to take a painting home and will even ship it on spec believing that what looks good on the Web may die on the wall.

Painter Sandy Nelson has recently joined the staff as a corporate art consultant.

Working with their budget Nelson helps clients present a corporate image through the selection of art while also providing space analysis and installation services.

All three women agree that popular artists change frequently driven by color and decorating trends. One re-emerging trend is plein-air painting once the rule of thumb of the Impressionist movement.

Nelson has painted plein air in Italy France and Switzerland. She explains that natural light changes every 45 minutes which is why artists frequently paint from photographs. But Nelson says “until they visit the subject area the painting doesn’t have a lot of soul.”

“Artists develop a memory of space that helps when you go back in the studio like banking an arsenal of images ” she adds.

Smith is all business.

“It’s important for people to know what they’re getting when buying original art ” she says. “A lot of bootleg art copies are repainted by groups of people in foreign countries.”

Smith stresses the importance of knowing the dealer and for buyers to know the artist.

“Get a bio before spending thousands of dollars on a painting that may barely be worth hundreds being sold as something more valuable than it’s worth ” Smith warns.

The Internet has been a blessing — a tool for showing artists’ work to a wide audience — and a curse — where flimflam artists copy work.

“If you put your work online you take a risk ” she says.


New Elements Gallery
Front Street

Merrimon Kennedy remembers when New Elements Gallery started 21 years ago on South Front Street in what locals call the Stemmerman Building. In 1987 it moved a few blocks to its present location on North Front Street. She is the second owner.

“There was so little retail on this block ” she recalls.

“Most was in the first block of Market Street anchored by Chandler’s Wharf ” she says. “I was very naïve. There were very few neighbors.”

Some original artists are still with the gallery. Kennedy names some very recognizable Wilmington artists: Betty Brown Gladys Faris Hiroshi Sueyoshi Dina Wilde-Ramsing and Michael Van Hout.

“The gallery has evolved over the 21 years into what it is today ” she says.

Representing regional North Carolina artists Kennedy curates fine craft from nationally recognized names to add diversity and depth.

“There are so many talented artists out there and so many collectors who appreciate fine art and craft ” Kennedy says.

She has seen a great deal of foot traffic and an increase in international traffic over the years amid a changing Wilmington riverfront.

“We have a wealth of natural beauty and historic value. Wilmington is the jewel on the coast of North Carolina ” she says. “People are pleased to find a gallery of this caliber.”

Relationships she knows are oftentimes built from one visit.

“Something caught their eye in the window and they come inside. Many have never collected but become totally engrossed in the whole process. We cultivate an appreciation for what they’re seeing not just about buying the art. That is long term and takes a lot of visits ” she explains.

Many of those first-time visitors are looking for directions restaurant recommendations and other things to do. It’s all part of the package from Kennedy’s perspective.

“We are a good ambassador for the area ” Kennedy says. “We want to share the experience.”

Recent studies including one workshop conducted by the Convention and Visitors Bureau indicate the craft market is a growth industry.

“People are nesting ” Kennedy says. “They’re looking for a nurturing environment because lives are so stressful. Handmade items are integrating into homes.”

“The arts are important to a lot of businesses that want to relocate their companies ” she adds. “They want to select a location on a par with the level of culture where they’re coming from.”

This is part of the reason why she organized Downtown Wilmington’s Fourth Friday Gallery Nights during the months of April through November featuring open-house receptions in 11 galleries within walking distance of downtown.

She found the model in Raleigh and Charlotte.

“We have a well-supported volume of prolific increase ” Kennedy said. “Each year we try to improve getting the word out.” She receives a flurry of calls from other parts of the state the week of the event.

Kennedy holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting from Tulane University. Originally from Burlington she moved to Wilmington because she wanted to be near the water.

She believes running a successful gallery requires a good business plan and a good location.

“Many people have an idealized concept of what it takes to own their own business ” Kennedy says. “I work a lot harder for myself than I did for anybody else.”


Adamantine Creative Design Studio
Wrightsville Beach
Larger than life

Dawn Anderson-Capron designer and gallery owner tumbled into the art world two years ago when some photos she took of her two sons were enlarged.

“I asked if they could be printed on canvas ” Anderson-Capron says.

Friends so admired the resulting black and white close-ups that they asked her to take similar portraits of their children.

Now all of Anderson-Capron’s original photographs are reproduced in the walk-up design studio in the former Crest Movie Theater building on North Lumina Avenue where a team of six handles administration graphic design printing stretching and mounting of her larger-than-life portraits and landscapes.

Giclee is the process of transferring photographed images to canvas. Anderson-Capron has also developed a glazing process that adds a slick finish to the oversized photos.

The prints are made one at a time and manufactured in limited series or in runs of 250 or more.

Signature pieces feature local landmarks such as Robert’s Grocery store or the boat house on Harbor Island hang alongside familiar scenes from the Surf City fish market or a corner store on Topsail Island. Anderson-Capron has branched out photographing botanical images and architecture observed while traveling to New York Washington D.C. Atlanta and San Jose.

Anderson-Capron moved to Wrightsville Beach three years ago from rural Moxville. The Davie County native is a graduate of Elon University. She spent 15 years in the interior-design industry training that has inspired the creation of several unique applications of giclee prints displayed in a model apartment that adjoins her gallery showroom. The decorative pieces include a three-paneled bamboo print screen a laminated tie-dye table and a sky-on-canvas drop ceiling. She created the model apartment to demonstrate how large photographs are at home in small living spaces and to show off some of the specialty mahogany woods she uses for framing such one-of-a-kind pieces as a “hand-painted” Mexican cross.

Anderson-Capron’s vision will question what you thought you knew about art. This winter as temperatures dip take a trip upstairs to Adamantine for a peek at what’s hot off her press.

Gallery Guide

What’s good for the arts is good for the artists. What’s good for the artists is good for the arts. Emerging or established ethnic or alternative all palates are represented in a neighborhood near you. Drop in for a visual treat or a tasty feast for the senses.

Corporate Canvas
107 S. Front Street
Wilmington NC
11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Tuesday – Friday 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday

Corporate Canvas has the largest gallery by square foot in downtown Wilmington representing original and limited edition giclee prints of contemporary and representational paintings by international national regional and local artists. Catering to professional interior designers the gallery’s interactive website allows designers to build client portfolios. Corporate Canvas is also a local distributor for Art Screen by Vutech a motorized screen for high definition televisions and hosts art galas and performing arts events in its spacious lobby.

Contact: Hap Willard 762-6552 visit


Acme Art Studios
711 North Fifth Street
Wilmington NC 28401
Individual artist hours by appointment

Acme is a working artists’ studio and a hub for creativity and local artistic talent. Currently all 17 available spaces are occupied by resident artists who maintain individual hours and may be contacted separately for appointments. Acme is also headquarters for the “No Boundaries” international art colony.

Acme Artists Represented: Deborah Cavenaugh Karen Crouch M.J. Cunningham Dumay Gorham Sandra Ihly Wendy Kowalski Marshall Milton Andre Nance Dick Roberts Arrow Ross Pamela Toll Chappy Valente and Michael Van Hout; paintings photography metal sculpture and wood work.

Contact: Dumay Gorham III 612-1723


Adamantine Creative Design Studio
38 North Lumina Avenue
Wrightsville Beach NC 28480

In the historic Crest Movie Palace this beachside gallery exclusively displays the art of Dawn Anderson-Capron’s large-format gicleé photographic prints on canvas and one-of-a-kind home furnishings. All design production printing stretching and framing is done on site.

Contact: Dawn Anderson-Capron


Art Fuel Inc
1701 Wrightsville Avenue
Wilmington NC 28403
Hours: Noon – 9:00 p.m. Monday – Saturday; Noon – 6 p.m. Sunday

The gallery offers as much exposure to as many artists as possible and features emerging and lowbrow artists. All types of media expressed. Every show is different.

December’s featured artists are Margaret Ross Leigh Mussel and Christina Gregory

Contact: David L. Tollefson and Sarah Peacock 343-5233


Art on the Wild Side
3910 Oleander Drive
Wilmington NC 28403
10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Monday – Saturday

Promotes and nurtures the arts specifically nature nautical and wildlife art watercolor oil and acrylic paintings; pastel pen-and-ink drawings; waterless lithographs on handmade paper; bronze steel copper and alabaster sculpture; pottery turned wood and hand carvings. Artists include Wayne Garner Joanna Hancock Pat Holscher Cathy Johnson David McCune Mike Penny Robert Lee Roy.

Featured artists for December: Linda Jernigan wood and resin sculpture and Baits Toon watercolor.

Contact: Cathy Johnson Mike Penny Joanna Hancock Wayne Garner 791-3312


Blue Moon Showcase
203 Racine Drive
Wilmington NC 28403
Monday – Friday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sunday Noon – 5 p.m.

More than 100 artist kiosks featuring prints gicleé art pottery purses candles woodwork soaps glassware baskets jewelry scarves decorative home accessories and homemade designer fudge. Blue Moon supports local artists and craftspeople and provides gallery space to show and sell work. Artists include Joann Bristol Kristin Doney Ivey Hayes Marty Jonkheer and Mark Olivola

Contact: Mary Ann and Joe Masucci


Bluewater Copper Works
Pages Creek Marine Unit C-D
Military Cutoff and Market Street
Wilmington NC
Call for appointment

A very nice golden retriever greets visitors to this artist’s studio where copper sculptures of aquatic wildlife and other challenging projects are completed and in progress.

Contact: R. Hanes Hoffman 262-6020


Crescent Moon
The Cotton Exchange
332 Nutt Street
Wilmington NC 28401
Monday – Saturday 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Sunday Noon – 4 p.m.

More than 70 American artists represented featuring hand-made one-of-a-kind affordable art — blown-glass vases bowls paperweights perfume bottles and stemware.

Contact: Janne Beaty 762-4207


Fidler’s Gallery
Cotton Exchange
304 Nutt Street
Wilmington NC 28401
Monday – Saturday 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Local regional and national artists framing shadow boxes and hanging art clocks and clock repair

Contact: Garry and Ellen Hayward
[email protected]


FountainSide Gallery
1900 Eastwood Rd. Ste. 44
Wilmington NC 28403
Monday – Friday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sunday 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Fine-art gallery in Lumina Station invites nationally recognized painters and sculptors to present their work to a Southeastern audience. Oil acrylic and pastel etching mezzotint mediums in landscape still life local coastal scenes figurative contemporary and portrait genres. Bronze sculpture turned wood art glass silver jewelry museum-quality framing and corporate consultation offered.

Artists represented include Jacob Cooley Robert Davis Christine Debrosky Charles Dwyer Martin Eichinger Andre Kohn Malcolm Leipke Elena Madden Rick McClure Randy Pijoan Don Sahli Tal Walton and 40 others.

Contact: Denise Smith 256-9956


Gallery @ Racine
203 Racine Drive #101
Wilmington NC 28403
Tuesday – Friday 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m. – 5.p.m.

The Gallery @ Racine is an established fine-art gallery specializing in uplifting and humorous works of art in acrylic watercolor oil pastel sculpture blown glass and jewelry created by internationally and nationally renowned artists including Steven Brent Jo Bridges Cecil Eakins Diane Friedman Cynthia Golonka Dick Heiser Tim Herganrader Shaw Lakey Ed Marlowe George Pocheptsov Steven Silverleaf Dr. Suess and Whenzi Zhang. The gallery offers quality archival framing.

Contact: Michael & Cynthia Golonka


The Golden Gallery
Cotton Exchange
307 North Front Street
Wilmington NC 28401
Monday – Saturday 10 a.m. – 5.30 p.m. Sunday 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.

The Golden Gallery has specialized in the original art and music recordings of the Golden family for 29 years capturing regional images of Wilmington and the beaches through original watercolors and gicleé prints by Mary Ellen Golden; original music and storytelling recordings by John C. Golden; and fine art photography and digital illustrations by John W. Golden. Other disciplines represented include art jewelry by Melissa Manley.

Contact: Mary Ellen Golden owner
762-4651 and


Charles Jones African Art
311 Judges Road Unit 6-E
Judges Road Business Park
Wilmington NC 28405
Monday – Friday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday by appointment.

Providing quality African art including traditional African statuary textiles terra cotta metal sculpture and furniture to major museums and collectors nationwide. Appraisals exhibitions and consultation for individuals and institutions.

Contact: Charles Jones 794-3060


New Elements Gallery
216 N. Front Street
Wilmington NC 28401
Monday – Saturday 10 a.m. – 5.30 p.m. Sundays Noon – 4 p.m. (Thanksgiving through December 23 only)

Established in 1985 this full-service gallery is accessible to visitors and collectors from the novice to the connoisseur and presents fine art and contemporary craft painting sculpture ceramics glass wood and fiber created by regional and nationally recognized artists presented in changing exhibitions throughout the year.

Artists represented: Bruce Bowman Betty Brown Richard Garrison Dorothy Gillespie David Goldhagen George C. Hemingway Kyle Highsmith Claude Howell Catherine Martin Jodie Wrenn Rippy.

Contact: Merrimon Kennedy owner


Thomas Kinkade Serenity Place Gallery
4113 Oleander Drive (Anderson Square) Ste E
Wilmington NC 28403
Monday – Friday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sunday by appointment

Thomas Kinkade’s seascapes landscapes cityscapes gardens and English cottages in limited-edition signed canvases music boxes plates and prints.

Contact: Robert and Meredith Jordan owners 794-1944


Spectrum Gallery
The Forum
1121-B Military Cutoff Road
Wilmington NC 28405
Monday – Saturday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sunday 1 – 5 p.m. (March through December)

Since 1997 more than 80 North American artists represented by contemporary paintings in all media outstanding jewelry fine-art glass and American craft. Paintings by Ginny Chenet Ann Hair Mandy Johnson Nancy Noel May Eric McRay Nancy Orcutt R. Bruce Shore and Roxanne Weidele; contemporary craft by Ed Branson Justine Ferreri Doublecreek Pottery Roland Karg Daniel Read Mark Rosenbaum; and jewelry by Janet Alix Conni Mainne Norah Pierson Michael Sugarman and Star Sosa gallery owner and award-winning jewelry designer. Open house on second Friday nights each month (except January).

Contact: Star Sosa owner 256-2323
toll-free 888-233-1444


Topsail Art Gallery
121 S. Topsail Drive
Surf City NC 28445
Tuesday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.;
Wednesday – Saturday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Local artists featured regional and national artists also represented in original paintings photography pottery blown glass and metal sculptures.

Contact: Mike and Judy Hendy owners 328-2138


Una Luna World Gallery
1320 Castle Hayne Road
Wilmington NC 28401
Wednesday – Saturday noon – 6 p.m. and
by appointment

Culturally diverse exhibits and shows introduce world art to the local community. Una Luna is described as a celebration of cultural diversity — African art and artifacts folk art and the Ivey Hayes Collection. Other represented artists include Jeff Lee Dock Lindley Wes Gubitz Chana Heins Meeks St. Peter’s Farm and Trina Robison; photographers Robin Renee Hix James Gary Robinson and Steven Vaughn; tribal and authentic jewelry and contemporary soapstone malachite lapis tagua and zulugrass necklaces. Exhibits featuring local and regional artists include performing artists during Full Moon Friday gallery shows.

Contact: Marcus Rich owner 772-1777


Walls Gallery

2173 Wrightsville Avenue
Wilmington NC 28403
Tuesday – Saturday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Original artwork by national and international artists framed by top makers producing handmade and gilded frames.

Oil and acrylic paintings bronze and intaglio prints by Perry Austin Bill Ludwig Charles Movalli John Poon and Moscow School Painters.

Contact: David Leadman owner 343-1703


WHQR Gallery
254 N. Front Street
Wilmington NC 28401
Monday – Friday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday & Sunday by appointment

Wilmington’s public radio station on Front Street was originally designed as a gallery and performance space with beautiful wood columns pine floors and exposed brick walls. New exhibits by local artists are featured each month.

Contact: WHQR Public Radio 343-1640