June 26,  2008

New Hatteras gallery features the work of owner and other distinctive artists  

It’s taken some time for Carole and Ed Nunnally to bring the Seaworthy, the island’s newest art gallery, to fruition, but the wait ended the first week of May, when the gallery finally opened its doors.

The project, which began about two years ago, started logically enough—with a little land and a lot of paintings.  

Carole, a largely self-taught painter, has been painting all her life, and over the years, she had amassed quite a collection of work.  

“My husband had this land, and we didn’t really know what we were going to do with it,” says Carole.  “I never thought I would open a gallery.”

But she did open a gallery, and filled it with “art…worthy to see,” as the gallery’s sign proclaims. 
Carole and gallery director Janet Hill wanted to bring something different to the island, a selection of art and artists that residents and visitors alike may not have seen before.  That desire to bring a fresh perspective is evident from the moment you see the gallery.  

And if you’re southbound on Highway 12, headed toward the ferry docks, you can’t miss it. 

Located just past Lee Robinson General Store, the Seaworthy Gallery is housed in a large, colonial-style building.  Knowing that colonial architecture is rarely, if ever, seen on the island, the Nunnallys, natives of Richmond, Va., thought they would bring a taste of their local flavor to the island they had come to love. So they worked with architects in Nags Head to design a building that would evoke the quintessential Southern style.  

Though the construction may say “Colonial Virginia,” the color -- a bright, turquoise blue -- practically screams “island oasis,” and the combination of the two styles is a unique addition to the island. 

Like the building itself, the gallery offers visitors something a little different, featuring work from artists not represented anywhere else on the island.  

“I would say that 99 percent of what we have here is different than anywhere else,” Carole says.
Carole’s paintings comprise somewhere around half the gallery’s offerings and are a highlight of the Seaworthy experience. She never formally studied painting, but you wouldn’t know that from looking at her work. 

She draws inspiration from her day-to-day surroundings and experiences, looking for those details and moments that often escape our eyes. 

“I like to paint things we don’t see normally, or maybe at all.” 

Once, while studying different trees for paintings, she started to notice how each one’s bark had its own distinguishable pattern and each tree its own unique identity.  The realization had a lasting impact on Carole.  

“I had missed a lot of things because I wasn’t really looking,” she said. 

She now carries a camera with her everywhere she goes, always looking for those extraordinary details, and then she paints from her photographs, favoring watercolor and oils. 

Her favorite subjects to paint are nature, especially flowers and birds, and like any doting grandmother, her grandkids.  The collection she shows at the gallery displays a wide variety of both of these subjects, particularly, kids at the beach.  

Though they are beautiful and fascinating, Carole’s paintings are certainly not the gallery’s only offerings.  The Seaworthy features a wide variety of art and artists. 

The work comes from artists that Carole and Janet have met at exhibitions, painters who are long-time friends of Carole’s, a few locals, and others who have simply stopped in and offered their pieces.

There are more paintings, some photography, lots of different styles of jewelry—even some created by her grandchildren, and several different styles of ceramics, including a unique style known as Raku, a Japanese technique whose name literally translates to “finding beauty and harmony in nature.” 

Carole even worked with some of the other artists to design some furniture for the gallery. She also worked with award-winning artist Ken Kantro, whose line of jewelry, Lovell Designs, is featured in the gallery, to create jewelry based on her paintings and photographs.  So if you can’t hang a Carole Nunnally original in your living room, you can at least hang one around your neck. 

Carole relies heavily on friend and director Janet Hill to maintain the variety and high quality of the gallery.  Janet constantly has new art coming in, accepting nothing that isn’t handcrafted. 

“The exciting thing is that we’re developing relationships with all these artists,” Janet says of gathering new works. 

Carole cites their distinctly different tastes in art as big reason that the gallery has the variety it does. Their tastes combine to ensure that there is something for everyone, and the gallery itself is definitely spacious enough to house all that variety.  

Actually, the gallery itself is art, in a way.  The space is filled with beautiful woodwork—a favorite of Carole’s husband—and bold, inviting colors.  And because it’s such a large, open space, there is plenty of room for visitors to really look at and appreciate each work. 

Every aspect of the Seaworthy Gallery is a treat, from the building’s bold exterior to the stories behind Carole’s paintings, and has something for everyone from the connoisseur to barefoot kids. So if you’re in the area, do yourself a favor and stop in.  

The Seaworthy Gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Please call 252-986-6510 for directions or more information.

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