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History of the Blue Ridge Realists



In 1968, an artistic movement developed in western North Carolina based on rural realism, inspired by man and his connection to the regional landscape.  Cofounders of the movement, Bob Timberlake and Ward Nichols, along with Hal Bryant, Cotton Ketchie, and Jack Greenfield, make up its first generation of artists.  The second generation of artists is Philip Philbeck, William Mangum, John Furches, Gary Freeman, Richard Oversmith, Scott Boyle, and Frederick Craig Franz, are the painters who represent a school of artists known as the “Blue Ridge Realists.”

Most of these artists did not consider themselves creators of a movement and were inspired by the art that came before them.  The first generation of Blue Ridge Realists were influenced by the modern twentieth century realist Andrew Wyeth.  Many artists in the second generation were drawn to the American tonalist, impressionist, and modern regionalists schools.  Such important precursors allowed these postmodern realists to create their own individual style.

Joining other schools of regionalism in American art history, the Blue Ridge Realists are now entering their fifth decade and the artists continue to live and work in western North Carolina.  There they paint its mountains and piedmont region for all to enjoy.


Jeff Church, BRR Curator