Hobson Pittman Exhibit, “A Fascination With Architecture”

Hobson Pittman Exhibit reveals his fascination with architecture

The Hobson Pittman Memorial Gallery in the Blount-Bridgers House is being re-staged for Edgecombe Arts’ annual Holiday Pittman Exhibition that will be “under construction”  for Tarboreans returning home for the holidays but officially open January 2 with a reception to celebrate the artist’s birthday (116th) in the gallery on January 15.

The images selected for this exhibit, A Fascination With Architecture,  are much like those our own young people take with them when they leave for college or to start their careers elsewhere.  Tarboro’s majestic architectural structures, from Tarboro’s Main Street and throughout the county, were often repeated in many of the paintings that the young promising artist Hobson Pittman created once settled in his new life in Philadelphia where he had moved to live with his older married sister Juanita Markle after finishing public school in Tarboro. The artist showed promise at a very early age and was encouraged to pursue his creative talent by his first art instructor, Molly Rouse (his teacher from 1912-1916).   In Philadelphia, he attended Pennsylvania State College and also studied summers at Woodstock, N.Y.

The young artist took with him to Philadelphia a child’s memories of the rambling Victorian homes that surrounded him in Tarboro.  The stark wooden homes with 10 and 12-foot ceilings, enormous doors and windows provided strong elements to mix with his imagined and fantastic ones to create compelling, and somewhat mysterious scenes.  He often would exaggerate the massive windows and doorways he remembered from his childhood, that seemed larger than life. The exhibition includes images from his hometown as well as those he found in Pennsylvania and New York.


Brown Country House 1930 oil on canvas copy



Pittman was born January, 1899 in the rural Edgecombe community of Epworth near Leggett. His father, Biscoe Pittman ran a crossroads store, an important lifeline for the farmers and tenants who worked the fields.  When he was old enough to start school, he moved with his family to a house (Meredith House) on Wilson Street in Tarboro. His brother Roland took over the operation of the store, as their father’s health was failing; he died in 1912; his mother died three years later.

Continuing his artistic pursuits, Pittman attended the Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1925, studying painting and art and the next year, he moved on to Columbia University.  In 1928 he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship affording him the opportunity to travel to Europe for the first time where he visited major art museums and did a series of watercolors.  From then on, Pittman traveled between the United States, Europe and the Orient, teaching and studying painting and art.

Following Pittman’s death, his niece, Alyce Weeks Gordon Patrick donated most of the works and many of his personal belongings to the town of Tarboro ultimately resulting in the creation of the Hobson Pittman Memorial Gallery.  The complete collection includes more than 400 pieces, some of which are part of a permanent display in the replica studio setting adjacent to the gallery. The studio has many of the artist’s student works including assignments with teachers’ comments.  His easel, his palette, his favorite chair, a work table among selected pieces of furniture from his Philadelphia studio.  Over the years, additions to the collection have come from others and as a result, Pittman’s personal history and artistic career are documented through the collection of his works, his belongings and hundreds of letters and other written documents that are housed in the gallery.

Maintained by the Edgecombe County Cultural Arts Council, the Hobson Pittman Memorial Gallery is located on the top floor of the Blount-Bridgers House, located at 130 Bridgers Street in Tarboro’s Historic District.  Visitors are welcome Tuesday – Friday from 10 am – 4 pm.  For more information, call (252) 823-4159 or visit www.edgecombearts.org.

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