Work of John Lowell Treadway to be featured in Tryon exhibit

Published 11:20 am Thursday, November 16, 2023

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Carri Bass Photography to host pieces from renowned artist


TRYON—Beginning this month, Carri Bass Photography in downtown Tryon will host the work of renowned artist John Lowell Treadway whose fanciful pieces, known as mindscapes, set his work apart from his contemporaries. 

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“He never made any money in his life. He was the quintessential broke artist, but his work was absolutely amazing,” says Clayton Smith, a writer who has published a book about Treadway.

Treadway’s intricate and detailed drawings feature birds and other creatures in ink, pencil and mixed media. He was educated at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Miller-Wagner School of Decorative Arts and studied privately with the renowned landscape artist, John Rogers Cox. Treadway showed and sold his work at Chicago’s Jacques Baruch Gallery and the Art Institute of Chicago. His work has been featured on posters for the bands “The Grateful Dead” and “Widespread Panic”.

Smith met Treadway in 2000 and decided to write a book about him. He traveled between his home in Ohio and Treadway’s home in Naples, Florida for the next two years getting to know Treadway and his art while working on the book. Smith says it was Treadway’s lifetime dream to have a book published about his work. Treadway died on September 17, 2022, which also happens to be Smith’s birthday. 

“I talked to him on the phone while he was in hospice and he said, ‘You’ve got to promise me one thing, that you’ll finish the book.’ I had it almost ready to go and he hung up the phone and died,” says Smith, who soon after published his book “The Arts, Life and Minds of John Lowell Treadway.”

The exhibit featuring Treadway’s work opens at Carri Bass Photography at 158 N. Trade St. on Friday, November 23.


An example of John Lowell Treadway’s work, which will be featured at an upcoming art exhibit at Carri Bass Photography in Tryon. (Photo courtesy of