River Walk exhibit celebrates life in North Carolina

Published 6:42 pm Wednesday, August 9, 2017



Rural landscapes and beach scenes, portraits of stillness in nature and action on the high seas, Katie Wiggs’ paintings portray North Carolina from the piedmont to the Atlantic.

“Mostly what I do is I find images that I really enjoy and call to me and say, “Hey, you need to paint me,’” Wiggs said.

A special exhibit of Wiggs’ work is on display at River Walk Gallery and Arts Center’s on West Main Street in Washington.

The New Bern artist got her start in the art profession as an art teacher in the public school system; for three years, she taught at P.S. Jones Middle School in Washington, then moved on to West Craven Middle School. But it wasn’t until after several years working in the insurance business, then becoming a stay-at-home mom, that she found time to focus on her painting. Four years ago, that segued into a new career in art.

“I thought, ‘This is actually a pretty cool deal. I ought to do this professionally.’ From that point, I started painting full time. I do a lot of commission work, because that’s what sells. My personal work doesn’t sell that much,” Wiggs laughed.

Wiggs gets plenty of commissioned work, which she credits to having what she refers to as a “pop-up show” at the New Bern Farmers Market, where she puts up a display every week and works on pieces in progress.

“People walk by and watch me paint pretty much every Saturday. So, people see what I can do and ask me, ‘Can you do this?’” she said.

The question leads to a wide variety of commissioned paintings, such as a pet portrait of a cat in a closet and a reproduction of an iconic photograph of U.S. Marine Sgt. William Bee as he recoils away from an enemy bullet ricocheting off a mud wall during battle in Afghanistan. Bee’s wife commissioned Wiggs to paint the photograph as a Father’s Day gift, with the twist that, in the painting, the Marine was recreated as a Star Wars’ storm trooper. She did, and the couple loved it, she said.

“Some of the most unique pieces have the most interesting stories behind them,” Wiggs said.

Wiggs’ exhibit of acrylics, watercolors and mixed media pieces will be on display at River Walk through the month of August. A reception for Wiggs will be held Aug. 25 from 6-8 p.m. at the gallery, located at 139 W. Main St. in Washington.