During its residence on South McDowell Street in Raleigh, the News & Observer was home to all the requisite characters for a gritty mid-century newsroom movie. As journalist Rob Christensen recounted it for the N&O's own story about its recent move to a sleek, new, digitally-focused facility, the staff was a cigar-smoking, fedora-wearing, tobacco-spitting old boys' club of news hounds who "always punched above their weight."
Sharing space with that cast of newsroom characters was a collection of art by North Carolina artists that told the visual story of the state at the same time that it was being chronicled in the paper's pages. Some of those works are now being sold by the News & Observer in our Important Summer Auction as they transition into their new offices.
The News & Observer Art Collection is comprised of works by major North Carolina artists. In our sale we have pieces by Claude Howell, Paul Minnis, and Joe Cox, all of whom, while stylistically distinct, painted scenes inspired by North Carolina life.
One of the Howell paintings in the Summer Auction, Fisherman's Pier, was featured in an exhibition of the artist's work put on by the North Carolina Museum of Art. Howell was a native of Wilmington, and paintings of rural North Carolina, particularly on the water, comprised almost his entire oeuvre. Even when he traveled Howell would take sketches of Wilmington with him from which to paint.
Claude Howell (NC, 1915-1997), Fisherman's Pier
Claude Howell and Paul Minnis were at one time colleagues on the faculty of the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Minnis also frequently painted North Carolina coastal scenes. The largest of his paintings in our current auction is Nags Head Beach House (Stinson Cottage), which depicts a house built on pilings in the waters of Roanoke Sound, in the Outer Banks. Leland Little Prints & Multiples Director Lauren Sanford remarks that the painting is one of the most "monumental" of Minnis' works.
Paul Minnis (NC), Nags Head Beach House (Stinson Cottage)
Stinson Cottage was purchased by the current owner's parents when he was a teenager, and has been a family retreat for several generations. The house survived a number of major storms that took down most of its neighbors, until it was demolished by Hurricane Irene in 2011. But like the newspaper whose walls its image graced for so many years, Stinson Cottage would be reincarnated. The family reconstructed the cottage exactly as it had always stood, right down to the cedar shake siding.
The News & Observer is moving into a new era of digitally-dominated media, and so it is fitting that its headquarters will reflect the change. But the stories it tells of its home state don't alter, they simply gain new chapters. And we are pleased to facilitate the writing of next chapters for these artworks, as they find their own new homes.
Content produced by the Leland Little Editorial Team