The Finer Points: North Carolina Art Across the Centuries
The blest land, the best land, the Old North State!
- Leonora Monteiro Martin
The Old North State is a deep and rich well of natural beauty, culture, and art. These attributes are rooted in time and give flavor to who we are as North Carolinians. Our Signature Fall Auction, on September 10th, 2022, offers an interesting opportunity to take a tour of NC artists throughout the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. These artists have had impact and reach well beyond the boundaries of our state border. Let’s take a trip through time and get to know them and their distinctive style.
Thomas Day: 1801 - 1861
- Lived and worked in Caswell County, NC.
- Thomas Day was born in a community of free African-Americans in southern Virginia. His family eventually relocated to North Carolina where he set up his shop in 1827. This is where he honed his signature “Exuberant Style”— an adaptation of French Antique traditional style.
- His fame and success had his customers coin the term “daybed” as an ode to his craft.

Minnie Evans: 1892 - 1987
- Lived and worked in Wilmington, NC.
- Evans was born in Long Creek, North Carolina and moved to Wilmington as a child. She only left her native NC once in her lifetime.
- A self taught artist, the saturated colors of the floral motifs in her paintings were most likely inspired by the Airlie Gardens in Wilmington, where Evans worked as as gatekeeper.
Francis Speight: 1896 - 1989
- Lived and worked in Greenville, NC.
- Speight was born in rural Bertie County, North Carolina. He began his art studies with Ida Poteat at Meredith College in Raleigh, North Carolina, followed by a brief period in Washington, D.C. and then in Philadelphia where he lived until 1961.
- He and his wife, Sarah Blakeslee, moved back to his home state of North Carolina to teach at East Carolina University.
- Bathed in dramatic rays of sun, or soft shadows, his paintings and their compositions seem to sway and dance across the canvas.

Sarah Blakeslee: 1912 - 2005
- Lived and worked in Greenville, NC.
- Born in Evanston, Illinois, Blakeslee began her art studies at the age of 13 at the Chicago Art Institute. Her family moved to Washington, D.C. and she took classes at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts during the first-half of the 1930s. During her studies at the academy, she met and married her instructor, painter Francis Speight.
- Blakeslee painted directly from her subjects— which varied from landscapes to portraits.

Maud Gatewood: 1934 - 2004
- Lived and worked in Caswell County, NC.
- Gatewood was born and raised in the rural town of Yanceyville, North Carolina. She began her art studies at the age of 10 at Averett College in Danville, VA. She gained her B.F.A from North Carolina Woman's College (now UNC-G) studying under Gregory Ivy. Gatewood continued her education and earned her M.A. in Painting from Ohio State. In 1964, she returned to North Carolina to serve as the founding head of the Art Department at UNC-Charlotte. She remained a faculty member until 1973.
- In 1975, she returned to Caswell County and became a professor of art at Averett College, a position she held until her retirement in 1997.
- Over the course of her life-long career as an art educator, she reached students far beyond NC and VA. Gatewood’s work is now one of the most collected and sought after of NC artists.
Jon Kuhn: b.1948
- Lives and works in Winston-Salem, NC.
- Born and raised in Chicago, IL, Kuhn received his B.F.A from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas, followed by his M.F.A from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.
- After moving to Winston-Salem, NC in 1985, Kuhn shifted his method from blown glass to cold-working. This labor-intensive process involves grinding polishing, and adhering multiple pieces of laminated optical and colored glass. Jon Kuhn is regarded as one of the leading glass artists in the world.