Artist donates sales to help Turnage ‘Raise the Roof’ campaign

Published 6:04 pm Tuesday, April 9, 2019

A local artist is pitching in to the raise the roof of the Turnage Theatre one painting at a time.

Washington painter Karyn Drum has her paintings on display in three places in downtown Washington: a desert-inspired series at Brown Library; a swamp series at River Walk Gallery and Arts Center; and 13 more paintings in the windows of the old Belk Building, now a collection of small retail shops and salons.

It’s the latter 13 that, if sold, their asking price will be donated to Arts of the Pamlico’s “Raise the Roof” campaign — a fundraising effort to repair the Turnage Theatre’s failing roof.

“The Turnage is like the heartbeat of our town, the art beat,” Drum said. “Every penny counts. I just think it’s — it’d be cool so you can donate and have a piece of art, too.”

Drum said she’s been painting for as long as she can remember: “It was always there, a part of me, I don’t remember ever a beginning,” reads the bio on her website. She grew up in the southwest, graduated a year early from high school and went straight to art school. East Carolina University’s Fine Arts program brought her east for her master’s degree — her master’s thesis was entitled The Desert Turns to Swamp in Three Days, and covered a range of landscapes inspired by the three-day drive from Lubbock, Texas, to Greenville. Some of these same landscapes can be seen at the Brown Library such as her paintings of Tucumcari Mountain, the silhouette of which loomed over the Route 66 town of Tucumcari, where Drum lived as a child. Others have a newer inspiration: the swamp behind her and husband Gary Duncan’s home on Honey Pod Road in Washington.

“So the swamp in the backyard is my Giverny. Most of them are inspired by the 220-foot boardwalk that goes through our backyard. We call the boardwalk the ‘Psycho Path,’” Drum laughed.

Drum’s work is bold and vibrant, playful with color and movement. Her preferred medium these days is acrylics.

“Right now, most of them are acrylic because I’ve just been painting faster. They dry so fast — it’s awesome,” Drum said.

Drum’s paintings are on display in the storefront of 158 W. Main St., Washington. To learn more about her work, visit

(Karyn Drum)