UNEARTHED is the latest nuanced group show at Mars Landing Galleries by 9 local masterful realist artists under the guise of Saints of Paint. Proceeds from this show benefit Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre and The Appalachian Barn Alliance.
Originally built in 1945 as a roller skating rink, Mars Landing Galleries boasts beautifully restored Southern Maple hardwood floors, high ceilings, and a scenic location nestled one block off the historic Main Street at 37 Library St, Mars Hill, NC 28754.
At Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre, we’re so thrilled to be partnering with and supporting artists in our region. Below, we’ve spotlighted each of the incredible artists represented in UNEARTHED.
John Mac Kah
I see my self as part of the American tradition of landscape painting. During art school, because the focus there was more on abstraction and modernist styles, I went my own way, researching and seeking out mentors who could give me training in use of traditional oils, though I do sometimes use acrylic and on occasion, alkyds for some applications. My skills are largely self-taught and I often paint on panel or linen, using traditional grounds, mediums, and materials.
I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts graduate degree from Ringling College of Art & Design in Sarasota, Florida and have had a freelance/private studio since 1984. My work is in private and corporate collections in the southeast, and internationally. I teach from my studio and in nationally known schools including the Fine Arts League of the Carolinas, Penland School, John C. Campbell Folk School, and Arrowmont School.
I have been blessed in my lifetime with many gifts for which I am grateful but none more than an early instinct to create art. This has inspired and guided me since I was a young boy growing up in Minnesota. My early appreciation for the work of the 19th century illustrators led me on a search for training using oil paint as a catalyst for picture making. I enrolled in the American Academy of Art in Chicago and entered the fine art department, concentrating the next three years on figure drawing and painting, both oil and watercolor. Searching for more structure and discipline in classical art led me to the atelier of Richard Lack and a lineage that predates the 19th century French ateliers. This intense study of nature helped shape my vision which allowed me to express my own interpretation of nature, based on direct experience. I have shared this journey with my artist wife Michele Mitchell, whom I met at the American Academy in Chicago. Together we work from our north light studio in Marshall NC as well as our studio/gallery in Asheville's River Arts District.
Her classical background is immediately evident in her Old Masters' palette, scrupulous brushwork, and in the compositional integrity of her portraits, still lifes and figurative paintings. Michele Mitchell was trained at the American Academy of Art, then on to the Palette and Chisel Academy in Chicago where she learned of the famed Atelier Lack. Mitchell was extended an opportunity to apprentice with Richard Lack and receive "the tradition" through the Masters' eyes. The four-year apprentice program culminated with Lack saying, "Her portraits were among the best ever produced over my long career as a teacher at the Atelier Lack." Mitchell's paintings are held in private, public and corporate collections throughout the U.S. and in Europe. She has exhibited in the U.S. Capitol, the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts, the Grand Central Gallery in New York, Hollis Taggart Gallery in Washington D.C. and New York, and the Palette and Chisel Academy of Fine Art in Chicago, to name a few.
Mark A. Henry
Mark graduated from the Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota, FL in 1973. He also studied with Mr. Leslie Posey, an ornamental sculptor who worked in the Chicago area. He then furthered his skills at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art as a Master Frame Conservator. Mark continued painting while working at Hagenbeck/Wallace as a set designer for the Ringling Brothers Circus and Disney On Ice. After moving to North Carolina, he immersed himself in painting the surrounding area’s unique and majestic views. The scope of his work ranges from broad landscapes to intricately detailed interior scenes. His preferred media are oils, pastels and charcoals. Each piece conveys a moment in time - one fleeting moment in nature - that can never be duplicated. Mark also designs and builds his own frames to complement his art, using reclaimed local wood whenever possible.
Andrew attended the Maryland Institute College of Art, earning a BFA in Painting. Missing South Carolina, he moved back and opened Mastriani Studios. This Charleston-based company was focused on murals, Trompe L’oeil, lime plasters, and decorative painting. For 15 years, he ran a rewarding business working with wonderful artisans, designers, craftsmen, and of course exceptional patrons. In 2015 he made the difficult decision to walk away from commissions to focus on more personal art. Andrew now lives in Asheville, NC. You can often find him plein air painting in nature and drawing in his studio.
Ruthanne A. Kah
Ruthanne A. Kah graduated from New College of Florida. She enrolled in post-graduate studies at University of NC, Asheville in the 1970's and participated in artist-in-residence program and completed Professional Craft Program at Haywood Technical College in textile design specializing in hand-weaving with emphasis on color, natural dyes and pigments. She continues to practice drawing and painting and to follow her interests in a shared studio with her husband, John Mac Kah in Asheville.
Jodi O’Hara is best known for her unique painting style of balancing logic with intuition. She creates from a place of planning merged with trust in the unknown. She does this by bridging realism with non-representational elements. Her emotive oil paintings explore themes of hope and sorrow by pulling from her personal experiences of perseverance despite life’s difficulties. There is an ambiguity to her work that invites the viewer to draw from their own understanding. “I believe there is a place where logic and trust simultaneously exist, where they both challenge yet champion one another. It is my pursuit as an artist to place my audience within this convergence.” Raised in Asheville NC, Jodi now resides 20 minutes east in Black Mountain NC.
Dana Margaret Irwin
Dana earned a BFA in graphic design at University of Georgia and did post-graduate studies at Tyler School of Art in Pennsylvania, Art Students League in NY, School of Visual Arts in NY and Pythagorian Art Institute, Samos, Greece. Her career as Art Director for national book and magazine publishers spanned 35 years in New York, NY, San Francisco, CA and Asheville, NC. Her artwork has been shown at Greenville Museum of Art in SC, Upstairs Gallery in Tryon, NC, Semi-Public in Asheville, NC and is found in collections in the US and Europe. Her painting, Blue Ridges at Craggy, was selected to be part of an international exhibit in the US embassy in Pristina, Kosovo, 2019-2021. The exhibit is known as Art in the Embassies Program, US Department of State. She now works from her home studio in Fairview, NC.
Over the years, my encouraging artist husband Mark A. Henry, has gifted me a multitude of art supplies - sumi-e calligraphy sets, watercolors, pastels, charcoals, paints, etc. - with the hope that I might find creative inspiration. While in the kitchen one day baking, which is by far my preferred creative outlet, I saw this beautiful garlic on the counter and said to myself “I should paint that!”
UNEARTHED is showing at Mars Landing Galleries through December 31, 2022. Paintings can be purchased online at https://marslandinggalleries.com/ or in person at 37 Library St, Mars Hill, NC 28754.