Memories, history inspire Pittman exhibit

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The article originally appeared in the Rocky Mount Telegram.

southernerEdgecombe County again honors one of its acclaimed native sons with an exhibit in the gallery bearing his name.

“Hobson Pittman: Pieces of Reminiscence, Collection of Scenes and Still Lifes” is on display at the Blount-Bridgers House, the home of the Edgecombe County Cultural Arts Council. The exhibit runs through April 17 in the Hobson Pittman Memorial Gallery.

Born in the Epworth community and reared in part in Tarboro, Pittman rose to fame as a mid-20th-century American artist. After studying in the 1920s at what now are Carnegie Mellon and Pennsylvania State universities and at Columbia University, he spent more than four decades painting in the United States, Europe and the Far East, the council’s website says. He died in 1972.

The “Reminiscence” exhibit includes works from the council’s permanent collection, a release says, and is the latest in the annual displays of Pittman’s works. The paintings were chosen by Motsie Brooks, an artist and board member of the Blount-Bridgers House Foundation, and Joyce Turner, the council’s executive director.

“There are a mix of oil paintings and pastels which represent his translation of both memories of lush Southern scenes, ladies in parlors and floral studies that are signature Pittman pieces,” the release says.

The artist often tapped past experiences for his subjects, using them as a narrator would in telling a story.

“Hobson Pittman had once commented upon his work stating that he had always been interested in painting things of the past,” the release says. “In his eyes, a chair, a window or even a book had all the living qualities of a human being. An empty chair could evoke a sense of loneliness or a group of chairs could create a conversation. The mysterious figures with no faces carried their own stories in how they related to their setting. With high ceilings, large windows, and walls these figures spoke to a viewer.”

By at least a bit, the works also draw back the curtain around his life and past.

Says the release: “While Pittman was a private individual, many of his scenes portray a peek into rooms and spaces tucked away in his memories.”

In addition to the “Reminiscence” exhibit, the council offers a smaller year-round display of Pittman works. It also has a replica of his studio and screens a short movie about his life.

The Hobson Pittman Memorial Gallery is open from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and by appointment on weekends.

The Blount-Bridgers House is at 130 Bridgers St.

For details, call 823-4159.

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