I swear I’m going to have to start an entire section entitled “Cool Art Tucked Away in Churches In The Middle Of Nowhere”. As you might have guessed, today we discovered another one. Apparently, artist Ben Long has decorated multiple churches in the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area. There are nine frescoes at six locations. I visited only one, leaving the others as an adventure the next time I visit my parents out in NC.
What’s a fresco? Well it’s a very cool type of art. An artist will rapidly apply watercolor to a layer of plaster. When the plaster dries, the art is permanently encapsulated in the area the plaster was, usually the wall or ceiling of a building. It was popularized in the Italian Renaissance but has a huge following in contemporary art.
After Asheville artist Ben Long returned from his fresco training in Italy, he wanted to find a church to give the gift of his newfound trade to. He found Faulton Hodge, who was the pastor of two small churches that had fallen on hard times: St. Mary’s in West Jefferson had dwindled to only 13 members and Holy Trinity in Glendale Springs had no parishioners and a crumbled wall. They were introduced at a dinner party and Long made his offer. “We’ll take it!” the minister exclaimed – quickly adding: “What is a fresco?” The rest is history.
Hickory, NC 2191 13th Avenue Drive SE
St Mary’s Church
400 Beaver Creek School Rd, West Jefferson, NC 28694