HAMLET — Artists of the Ellerbe, East Rockingham and Hamlet senior centers will offer a free public art exhibit from 1-4 p.m. Sunday at Ellerbe Springs Inn and Campground on 2537 U.S. 220 North in Ellerbe.
The “Front Porch Art Show,” directed by art instructors John and Ann Moore, will take place on the front porch of the inn and will feature more than 50 drawings and paintings completed by students from the county’s senior centers.
“We’ve had art exhibits in the libraries and in restaurants,” John Moore said. “Those have been very successful. People who come often see a drawing or painting they want to buy and ask how much, but we stay out of those transactions. I tell them I will give their contact information to the artist so they can work out those details between themselves.”
The Moores have volunteered their time to teach art lessons in the senior centers for the past four years and say the each of their classes is like “a little family.”
“We tend to keep the same people in each center,” John Moore said. “But it’s also a family that’s growing. Here lately we’ve had four new people join our classes. Joining is easy. They must be 55 or older, but our oldest artist is 86 and she’s one of the better painters. She’ll have at least four works on display Sunday.”
Ann Moore said the classes, which are free, operate on a shoestring budget.
“It’s a very thin shoestring right now,” she said.
John Moore estimates there are between 35 and 40 students throughout the county.
“But there’s always room for more,” he said. “The more the merrier. Everything is free to each student and all they have to do is come out and spend a couple of hours with me every week.”
While the Moores furnish most of the supplies out of their own pockets, John Moore said Hamlet tries to help make up the difference for some supplies needed for members of its senior center. Donations are, of course, welcome but not required from anyone at any time. He said occasionally someone will donate a Walmart gift card for buying supplies and that class members greatly appreciate them.
“The main objective of the art show is to show the work they are doing,” he said. “We are volunteers and we don’t get paid to teach these classes. This is something we want to do, and it’s the seniors who matter and their work that matters, not the cost. In all of the classes there are some really good artists, and some are still perfecting their style. It’s rewarding to see them taking their work seriously and also having fun.”
John Moore said he has always been an artist, and that teaching the classes is a natural outgrowth of that background.
“When I retired, we were at the beach,” he said. “But being born in Anson County, I gradually wanted to get back closer to home, so we wound up in Ellerbe. And one day I was sitting there and thinking I should volunteer to teach art to seniors. I made a few phone phone calls and we had a lot of support and still do. And here we are.”
John Moore said students work with drawings, watercolors and acrylics. He begins each class as if his students have never drawn a straight line before, and said it helps keep people from feeling intimidated and engenders an open and relaxed environment for creating art.
Ann Moore said that Ellerbe Springs Inn and Campground has offered its dining room as an alternate location for the exhibit in the event of inclement weather, and she hopes if the weather is nice, folks will wander through the inn and grounds and explore all the changes made since new owners Mark and Donna Buckeridge purchased the property in 2013.
“It was very kind of them to donate their space for hosting this exhibit,” she said.
John Moore invites seniors who may not have explored drawing or painting to join one of the three classes he teaches each week.
“We’re in Hamlet on Mondays, Ellerbe on Tuesdays and East Rockingham on Thursdays,” he said. “We start setting up at about 1:15 p.m. and get started by 1:30, and classes last around two and a half hours.”
For more information regarding the exhibit, contact John Moore at 910-652-0062.
Reach reporter Melonie McLaurin at 910-817-2673 and follow her on Twitter @meloniemclaurin.