Retrospective peeks into the life of an artist

Published 8:16 pm Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Alice Stallings has been creating art her entire life.

On Friday, some of it will be on display at Contemporary Art Exchange in downtown Washington.

From 6 p.m. until 9 p.m., the public is invited to a reception celebrating the Washington artist’s work that spans decades, genres and media.

It’s a mini-retrospective, according to Contemporary Art Exchange owner Tina Jandrow, serving up samples of Stallings work through the decades.

“The collection here is interesting, because we went through Alice’s collection, so the majority of these haven’t been seen before,” Jandrow said.

There are drawings from Stallings’ art classes in the 1960s at East Carolina University, where she studied for nine years, in addition to being a full-time mother of five. There are acrylic paintings and colorful textiles; watercolors, prints and abstract landscapes inspired by her visits to the family’s second home in Asheville.

“Painting, I did mostly acrylic; I didn’t really like oil. I like watercolor. I like printmaking a lot and I did a lot of printmaking,” Stallings laughed.

“There are collections from certain periods, but if you look at the dates, there’s always a return to printmaking,” Jandrow said.

On exhibit is a major work by Stallings: a reproduction of the famed 14th-century French Bayeux Tapestry, an embroidered cloth nearly 230-feet long and 20-inches tall that depicts the French invasion of England. Stallings’ translation is in smaller, framed pieces, printed from intricately hand-cut screens.

“People thought I was crazy for doing it, and maybe I was,” Stallings laughed.

However, those who appreciate European history always recognize the prints, she said.

“History buffs like it,” Stallings said.

A full retrospective of Stallings’ work will be on exhibit at Arts of the Pamlico’s Turnage Theatre gallery in October. But for now, the smaller exhibit is making an appearance, as is Jandrow’s recreation of some of Stallings’ fabric prints, such as a vibrant one-of-a-kind design on a scarf getting a reprint and new life as the fabric of a throw pillow.

“We’re experimenting with taking the painted fabric and turning them in other various items,” Jandrow said. “I think people are going to love her work.”

Contemporary Art Exchange is located at 127 E. Main St., Washington.