Saluda art legends, past and present, on display at depot

In recognition and celebration of the art community in Saluda during the month of May, the Saluda Historic Depot will present Saluda Art Legends – Past & Present, in the Saluda Historic Depot. More than 17 artists living and passed will be represented in an exhibit in the depot with an opening reception May 7, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Saluda Historic Depot, 32 W. Main Street, Saluda.


Some of the work exhibited will be for sale and some will be on loan from family members. Fifty percent of the proceeds from sales will go toward the purchase of the depot and creation of a heritage and train museum.


“The month of May is all about the arts in Saluda,” says organizer Cathy Jackson.  “When the first passenger train rolled into Saluda on July 4, 1878, artists started coming to Saluda to get away from the sweltering heat from the lower country and discovered Saluda’s bountiful beauty and cool mountain breezes. Visual artists, performing artists, and writers built a community here and it is still a growing part of Saluda’s culture. We salute them in May with the Saluda Arts Festival on May 21 and we also wanted to recognize where it all began with the Saluda train depot exhibit of Saluda artists who are celebrated throughout the country, both those living and those who have passed, and left a legacy of art in Saluda,” says Jackson.


Exhibiting at the depot in May will be:


Bonnie Bardos: “Art for me is an expression of the soul: the deepest self, where time and place do not matter. I am on a higher plane when creating. There is intense spirit and energy in my hands. I am influenced by color, by thought, and by the natural world around us.” Bonnie’s work is ethereal, you want to be a part of its softness, and light and somehow have it leave with you, become a part of you. Her paintings are pure loveliness.


Jim Carson: Jim Carson was the managing partner in the law firm of Chambless, Higdon and Carson, in Macon, Ga., where he practiced law for 31 years. Although always interested in drawing, even at an early age, Jim’s interest in art was dormant while law school, marriage, raising a family and building a law practice took precedent.

Jim’s wife gave him a painting course for Christmas in 1989. The art journey culminated in 2003, when Jim retired from law practice, moved to Saluda, N.C., and now paints full time.

Jim is known for his creative color balance and bold and spontaneous brushwork. Jim is a Signature Member of The American Impressionist Society, a member of Plein Air Painters of the Southeast (PAP-SE), and an Associate Member of Oil Painters of America. Jim won the Associate Member Award of Distinction in the 2015 National American Impressionist Society Exhibition.


Marguerite Hankins: Marguerite is known for her paintings inspired by old photographs and this is her passion. She is challenged by bringing the details of photographs to life, and especially enjoys capturing the fabric and design of old clothing and period costumes and figures in landscape settings.

She is a gifted portraitist and captures the character of her subjects through their eyes and weathered faces. Still life painting rounds out her repertoire of favorite things to paint.


Anne Jameson: The simple rural life and colorful landscapes of the Carolinas have long fascinated Anne Jameson. She enjoys rural structural subjects particularly for the graphic design aspects of a composition but also for the wonderful color, and she enjoys the opportunity for some interesting plays of light and shadow which can provide drama or mystery to a painting. She and her husband William Jameson often host workshops in Mexico and Italy and much of that is represented in their works in addition to the local scenery.


William Jameson: Bill’s passion for history and nature allow him to create introspective landscapes embodying the full range of local color and timeless contrasts, whether the setting captures the brilliant, warm colors heralding the arrival of fall in the North Carolina Mountains or the rich Tuscan countryside. A prolific painter, Bill continues pursuing his explorations of landscapes. He expresses his creative drive in this way, “The more I paint, the more I must paint. The need to…is never diminished by having completed a painting, but rather there’s an immediate need to begin another.”


Dale McEntire:  A native of western North Carolina, Dale McEntire has been involved in the visual arts since his training at Mercer University, and has continued to evolve as an artist through private studies in the U.S. and Europe, and training at Penland School of Craft. His interest in the spiritual essence of nature can be seen in his use of color and form. Dale produces both oil and pastel paintings and sculpture (stone, steel, glass, bronze) out of his studio in Saluda, N.C.


Beverly Pickard: After attending Rhodes College in Memphis, Beverly later received her BA in art from the University of South Carolina. She taught art for many years before she returned to school and earned a graduate degree in marriage and family therapy, the field she worked in for 19 years, but she retired early to paint full time.

Beverly’s delightful subject matter includes local scenes and landscapes, as well as stunning still lifes that evoke feelings of nostalgia. A summer resident for many years, Beverly and her husband Carey returned to Macon, Ga. after living in Saluda for more than 10 years full time.


Bill Ryan: An artist and teacher, Bill graduated with a combined art and English literature degree from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va., and continued studies at the University Of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Bill moved to Charleston, S.C. in 1970 and taught in the public school system there.

Since moving to Saluda in 1981, Bill concentrated on watercolor and oil landscapes of this area, and  worked on a series of seasonal floral arrangements inspired by the catalogues of English and American horticulturists of the 18th century. “I was once accused of ‘painting for the people,’” he says, “Of course I do! All artists do that, we simply choose different audiences.  All art is communication, and art that does not communicate is not art.” Bill passed away in February, 2013.


Johnny Waddill: An artist at birth, Johnny was encouraged by teachers and parents and landed at Parsons School of Design. Working as a furnishings designer for years, he soon realized South Carolina was a better place to raise his family and soon became a painter of wildflowers, animals, fish, birds, snakes and landscapes. John continued to paint for pleasure and enjoyed learning from others including Rich Nelson, Dale McIntyre, Bill Jameson, and Jim Carson.

He learned from a teacher years ago “If you ain’t having fun you are wasting your and my time.”  John followed that principle until his death in March, 2013.


Ray Pague: Ray Pague’s passion for art started when he was young. At the age of 12 he won a TV in a drawing competition on TV. At 14, his father bought him an art correspondence course. His favorite artists include Vermeer, Rembrandt and Cassatte. Ray has a varied history in art with experience as an illustrator before focusing on fine art.

A student of drawing and painting, his teachers have included Jim Greenshere, Daniel Greene, Anne Schuler, and James P. Pyle. He enjoys various mediums including oil and acrylic. His most popular work has been Saluda landmarks and street paintings of Main Street in Saluda.


Mark Gardner: Mark’s love for making things out of wood started at the age of 16 from his dad who made furniture as a hobby. After studying woodworking and cabinet making at the University of Cincinnati, Mark gives credit to John Jordan at Arrowmont School for Arts and Crafts for giving him a firm foundation of turning techniques. Inspired by the work by woodturner, Clay Foster, and furniture maker, Kristina Madsen, whose works are heavily carved with African and Fijian motifs, Mark’s own work has been influenced by  African and Oceanic art.

Another important influence on Mark’s work has been Stoney Lamar, a woodturner/sculptor.  Working side by side with Stoney for six years, Mark learned how Stoney uses a lathe to sculpt and carve opposed to a tool for making round/symmetrical objects. This perspective inspired Mark to experiment with other tools. Over the last couple years his work has begun to shift from work based solely on turned forms to work that is made with even more direct methods such as chainsaws and power planers and grinders.


Judith Cheney: Judith studied French in college so she could go and live in Paris and hang out at the Louvre and sit around in cafes sketching. Judith calls her work “story-telling in paint,” for each of her richly detailed paintings does just that. Her colorful canvases include the animals and birds, flowers, trees and old houses, which are among her favorite things.

She loves the changing seasons and paints spring orchards, summer picnics, blazing falls, and the wintry world after a snowfall with equal joy and zest. She also loves to paint moonlit scenes and drizzly, foggy Februarys and ever since her Florida days, glorious tropical jungles and seasides.  Judith lives these days in the Blue Ridge Mountains of WNC and is inspired by the natural splendor which abounds in the area.


Paul Koenen: Retiring from the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve after 25 years of service with the rank of lieutenant colonel, Paul and his wife, Christine settled in Chicago in 1957 where he continued his studies at the American Academy of Art. There he was inspired by a watercolor class taught by Irwin Shapiro.

Paul worked in Chicago for 30 years as an advertising artist, art director and later, director of marketing communications at American Hospital Supplies.

In 1987, he and Chris moved to Saluda, N.C. where he pursued painting and enthusiastically began teaching watercolor. Paul Koenen was a signature member of the Watercolor Society of North Carolina. He designed and built numerous sets for the Tryon Fine Arts Center, designed six of the Morris the Horse Christmas ornaments and helped found an art gallery in Asheville, N.C.

He is well known for his paintings of downtown Saluda and Saluda Library which he sold prints of with all proceeds going to the Saluda Library. Paul passed away October, 2013.


Bunny Steffens: Bunny Steffens started drawing as a child and in her early 30s she started to take painting very seriously. She excelled in her portrait work. There wasn’t a medium that she didn’t use, pastels, oil wash, watercolor, charcoal, acrylic and of course, oil.

The art critic from the Chicago Art Institute once told her to concentrate on her “nudes,” but she loved so many aspects of painting that she had to do it all. She had several one-woman shows in Florida, Hollywood, Dania, and Bradenton, and in Tryon. Her favorite role was as wife to her beloved Ted, husband of 54 years, mother to her children Ted and Mary, and a special role and love for her dear granddaughter, Jennifer.

Bunny and Ted bought their home in Saluda in 1966, after spending many summers and retired here in 1983. Bunny was very involved in life in this wonderful little town. She was president of the Women’s Club of Saluda, a very active member of the Garden Club, and Women of the Church. She also tutored reading at Saluda Elementary school.

Her family is so proud of her work and her life and appreciates the opportunity to share her love of art with the community that she loved so much.


Joe Adams:  Joe is a folk art afficionado and storyteller. His collections of “Outsider and Folk Art” were exhibited in his three galleries, America Oh Yes in Washington, D.C., Asheville, N.C., and Hilton Head, S.C. He still has a collection of work at his Saluda summer residence and has generously donated a couple of his paintings to this exhibit.

His collections include the best of Willey Masseys from the Smith Collection, art from Gitter-Yellen Collection, the Oh Appalachia Collection, Warrant and Sylvia Lowe Collection, the James Smith Pearce Collection and many more. Joe is also an author of the book, “Butterbeans for the Soul.”


Sylvia Jones: A collection of Sylvia Jones’ watercolor prints featuring Saluda scenes of Charlie Ward, the 611 passenger train, Thompson’s Store and M.A. Pace General Store will be on exhibit.


Charles Hearon: Charles O. Hearon, Jr. (1911-2007) was brought to the Saluda Baby Hospital in 1913 from Spartanburg. Since then, he and his family returned to Saluda each summer.  In retirement, he became a student of watercolor painting. From his nature-filled youth, he knew all the details of his subject matter. He painted and wrote about what he loved. Saluda’s creeks, trains, store merchants, summer people, and flora were all subject matter for his brush and ‘C Boy’ became his signature, his childhood name.

Early on a cold, November morning at age 96, he drove his horse pulling a wagon filled with lumber, yet one more time up Howard’s Gap, not to his beloved Saluda, but beyond.


The depot sits on historic Main Street at the crest of the steepest mainline standard gauge railroad in the United States. The depot building is a contributing structure on the National Register of Historic Places in the listing for the Saluda Main Street Historic District.


The Saluda Historic Depot organization is raising money to purchase the building and is working with the Historic Saluda Committee to make it Saluda’s historic museum to highlight the history of the railroad, Saluda’s downtown, its people, and the history of its natural resources.


If you would like to climb aboard and help preserve the historic Saluda Depot for future generations, you can send donations or pledges to Saluda Historic Depot, PO Box 990, Saluda, NC 28773 or email All donations are tax deductible.


-Submitted by Cathy Jackson


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