Life in our Foothills June 2023 – Exploring the Spiritual Essence of Nature – The Art of Dale McEntire

Published 3:23 pm Wednesday, June 28, 2023

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Dale McEntire is an artist whose work is focused on exploring and interpreting the spiritual essence of nature. His paintings and sculptures combine stone, steel, cast glass and wood to create works of art that are both beautiful and meaningful. Based out of his studio in Saluda, McEntire has had a long and successful career as an artist. His work can be found in several galleries in the Foothills.

Hailing from the Peniel community in Polk County, McEntire’s interest in art began during childhood. He enjoyed drawing, creating and playing outdoors. However, it wasn’t until his freshman year at Mercer University that a professor, Sam Hutto, encouraged him to be experimental and focus on art. He also found a mentor close to home in artist Karl Loshe of Tryon. 

Growing up in Polk County has significantly influenced McEntire. The region’s rich craft heritage and appreciation for the fine arts have provided him with opportunities and a supportive community. At one time, he even operated a frame shop in Columbus. 

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The landscape itself has also been a source of inspiration, with its abundance of subject matter. He has spent a great deal of his time exploring the secret caches of waterfalls and mountain views that are found in the area. 


An apple orchard in Saluda

Over the years, McEntire’s style and mediums have evolved. He has evolved from a realistic style to impressionism, fauvism, and an abstract symbolic style. His focus has always been on the landscape, and he feels that the possibilities of understanding and expressing its energy will keep him engaged throughout his life.

McEntire’s current work with pastels is best described as natural symbolism. He has been influenced by several painters over the years, including Charles Burchfield, Arthur Dove, Will Henry Stevens and Arshile Gorky. 

“My goal is to refine my personal language of the inner form and create an object of beauty and skill,” says McEntire. “Surface lines and color are essential elements in my work.”


Throughout his career, McEntire has worked on many projects that he is proud of. These include creating the Harmony Tree for the Tryon Presbyterian Church and having a sculpture in the collection at the Asheville Museum of Art. However, he is most grateful to all the people who have connected with his work and supported him with collecting and encouragement.

McEntire has traveled extensively and has found inspiration in places all over the world.

“My first trip to Paris and seeing the Musee d’Orsay and my travels to Rome and Florence were inspiring,” Dale says. “Most recently, we traveled to Myanmar before the military coup, where I found extraordinary inspiration.”

Dale also finds inspiration from people in his community doing volunteer work to help make it a healthy and culturally vibrant place to live.

“As an artist, I have always found inspiration in the people and places around me,” he says. “My wife Wendy has been an incredible partner and supporter throughout my creative journey, always encouraging me to pursue my passions and pushing me to be my best. But I have also found a deep connection and inspiration in the larger community of artists and art lovers surrounding me.

“One of the things I love most about being a part of this community is the way that we come together to support one another,” he continues.  “Whether it’s through volunteering our time to help make our city a healthier and more vibrant place to live, or simply sharing our work and ideas with one another, there is a sense of generosity and collaboration that permeates everything we do.

“I also find inspiration in the stories and experiences of my fellow artists. I am constantly learning from these conversations and finding new ways to approach my work.”

McEntire’s work can be found at the Gallery at Flat Rock, Grovewood Gallery in Asheville, and Taupe Gallery in North Wilkesboro. He also has a commissioned painting that went to London and is currently working on another local commission. 

McEntire’s art reflects his understanding of art’s original intent, which is an expression of gratitude for the gift of creation. Through his art, he hopes to offer viewers the chance to encounter their own relationship with this grace. The spiritual essence of nature is a recurring theme in McEntire’s work, and his paintings and sculptures are a testament to the beauty and power of the natural world.

The Harmony Tree sculpture on display at Tryon Presbyterian Church

One of McEntire’s most striking works is the Harmony Tree, a sculpture he created for the Tryon Presbyterian Church. The sculpture is made of steel and glass and is designed to reflect the light and colors of the surrounding environment. The Harmony Tree symbolizes the church’s commitment to environmental stewardship and is a reminder of the interconnectedness of all things.

McEntire’s pastel paintings are another highlight of his work. These paintings are a fusion of the real and the symbolic, with elements of the natural world represented in abstract forms. McEntire’s use of color and line is masterful, and his paintings are a testament to his skill as an artist.

One of Dale McEntire’s recent pastels

McEntire’s sculptures are also noteworthy. These works are a fusion of different materials, with stone, steel, glass, and wood all used to create intricate and beautiful pieces. McEntire’s sculptures are a testament to his skill as a craftsman and a reminder of the power and beauty of the natural world.

McEntire’s art is a fusion of different styles and mediums, and his work is a testament to his skill as an artist and craftsman. If you are looking for an artist whose work is beautiful and meaningful, look no further than Dale McEntire.