Beaufort County Arts Council to honor Lane

Published 12:30 am Friday, December 16, 2011

The Beaufort County Arts Council will honor its founder, Louise Lane, as part of its 40th-anniversary celebration next year.

Lane passed away recently at the age of 89.

Louise LaneSpeeches dedicated to Lane will be given during a reception planned for Jan. 14, 2012, said Joey Toler, executive director of the arts council.

The reception will begin a yearlong series of events retracing the arts council’s history and spotlighting its future, Toler indicated.

Toler and other sources agreed that, without Lane, the arts council might not have reached this milestone. For this reason, they said, it’s appropriate to place memories of Lane front and center at the reception.

“She is the reason we have the arts council today,” said Bettie Bonner Bradshaw, who worked with Lane from the arts council’s inception. “If it weren’t for her, we wouldn’t have such a place.”

Lane was one of the original organizers of the arts council, and served as its first president and director. She and her husband, Harold Lane, have been credited with providing much of the inspiration and early support that made the arts council viable.

The arts council gallery and gift shop, sited at 108 Gladden St., is named after the Lanes.

In 1974, Lane was instrumental in bringing to Washington a roving art exhibit titled ARTrain.

Featuring works by artists as renowned as Renoir and Picasso, ARTrain drew more than 35,000 people to the city, said Tom Vann, president and chief executive officer of First South Bancorp, First South Bank.

“It kicked off and re-energized the arts in Washington,” said Vann, who, at Lane’s behest, volunteered as facilities chairman for ARTrain.

Lane also was key to initiating First South Bank’s ongoing commitment to the visual arts, Vann related.

She encouraged the bank to seek out area artists for an in-house collection at its Carolina Avenue location. Lane recommended guidelines for the collection — criteria still in effect today — and sought out rising artists whose works would be acquired by First South.

“She stimulated us to invest in the arts,” said Vann.

He reported the bank’s art collection now comprises nearly 900 works.

“That’s what she taught us: that the arts are alive in everyone,” he said.

Vann and Bradshaw said Lane was, perhaps, the most effective proponent of restoring the former railroad warehouse that, today, is the city-owned Washington Civic Center. Early arts council exhibits were held in the warehouse before it was restored to its present condition.

Lane saw a need for an arts council because there was nothing of its kind here — no resource to bind the arts and residents together — in the 1950s and 1960s, said Alice Stallings, a longtime friend and fellow volunteer.

Lane compiled a list of artists and craftsmen, and this list became source material for BCAC, Stallings shared.

Through determination, and gentle persuasion, Lane helped will the arts council into existence, Stallings and the other sources made clear.

“She was very much a lady and very thoughtful,” Stallings commented. “Whenever she took on a project and asked me to come on board, I said, ‘OK.’”

From the perspective of Toler and others who spoke of Lane, the arts council lost a benefactor when it lost Lane — and many people lost a friend.

“Even though we haven’t seen a lot of her in the past year, we’re going to miss her,” Toler said.