Charlie Frye – Lenoir’s Hometown Inspirational Folk Artist
Charlie Frye is a fifth generation North Carolinian artist with a deep love and respect for the people and the place he calls home, the charming town of Lenoir in the spectacular Blue Ridge Mountains. His bearded face is a welcome sight in the heart of downtown where he and his talented artist wife, Susan, opened the unique Folk Keeper Gallery back in 2008.
For all of us who live in the mountain towns in North Carolina, or who are lucky enough to visit Lenoir from time to time, they know that Frye’s place is far more than a gallery. It’s a little bit studio, a little bit classroom, and also a whimsical place to shop for one-of-a-kind folksy art. Charlie is self-taught and didn’t venture into life as an artist until he was twenty-five years old. Perhaps it’s his raw talent and everyman persona that lends itself so well to all the artistic mediums he touches—from found art sculptures, to woodblock prints, to acrylic paintings and ink drawings—all that this guy creates is incredibly genuine and full of joy. No wonder when folks are looking for things to do in Lenoir NC, the Folk Keeper Gallery makes the top of our list.
Charlie’s award-winning work is everywhere throughout the south, whether his paintings are hanging in highly-regarded folk art galleries, are displayed at popular shows and exhibits, or throughout Lenoir’s cafes, restaurants and professional offices—it’s clear that his art brings this small town a great deal of cheer and reflects all that makes life rich in North Carolina. Some noteworthy shows—Kentuck Festival of Art, Finster Fest, and Fearrington Village Folk Art Show are where his work has been shown.
His resourcefulness and ability to repurpose scrap wood or metal, like pot lids, is a testament to his genuine soul and his love of the North Carolina land. Susan also turns to old buttons, scraps of tin wood, and discarded kitchen utensils. There is a sense of whimsical nostalgia in their work, and this is something people relate to…after all…living in the mountain towns of North Carolina brings out the nostalgia in all of us. Charlie likes to create images from his memory; very often he chooses farm scenes, animals, and musicians and it’s no surprise that his regional art is collected internationally.
Charlie doesn’t run out of things to do in Lenoir NC—he is painting and teaching full-time. Not all artists make good teachers, but Charlie relates to people of all ages with all levels of artistic abilities. Often his workshop descriptions will read “no painting experience necessary to paint like a true folk artist.” That’s the sort of atmosphere that draws the crowd into Folk Keeper Gallery and makes it a hub in downtown Lenoir.
Not only is Charlie receptive to his students, he is also inclusive of other artists in the region and he makes sure their work is represented beneath his roof. Imagine browsing a good twenty folk artists in one gallery! These are some of the best folk artists around, and viewing their work in one collective space enhances the entire experience. Whether you’re just beginning your folk art collection, or you’re putting the finishing touches on your home in the mountain towns of North Carolina, this is the place to visit. Charlie’s website says, “We represent regional Folk Artists and their Folk Stories,” and they truly do.
Folk art is appreciated by people from diverse areas with diverse backgrounds because at its root it celebrates our very hearts and souls. You may have seen Charlie’s work featured on local television networks, (they were named “Master Folk Keepers” by Life in the Carolinas), or YouTube, displayed at the Morganton City Hall, or Root and Vine, or perhaps his popular and gorgeous quilt blocks that he was commissioned to paint by The Coves Round Mountain Ranch.
Be sure to visit the Frye’s website (they can ship artwork), or their gallery on West Avenue in Lenoir, and take part in one of Charlie’s workshops or gatherings where you can meet a local artist and share the love of folk art. You might get a glimpse of Minnie Pearl, Charlie’s famous old “owl” pickup truck. Charlie’s upcoming event: Love Bird Paint Night at Folk Keeper Gallery where he invites people looking for things to do in Lenoir NC to “Come and paint a pair of love birds with your sweetie” this Valentine’s evening, February 14 from 6-8 pm. The fee is $30.00 per person, and feel free to bring your own snack and beverages.
If you’re simply looking to shop, here’s a bit of what you’ll find in their gallery: folk art, pottery, sculptures, jewelry, antiques, cards, organic and fair trades teas sold by the ounce, essential oils with cool artistic labels by Eric Legge, knitted items, cutting boards, bees wax soaps, paper lanterns and so many more unique items for your mountain home.
Those who have settled at The Coves know and love Charlie Frye. They get to appreciate his quilt blocks on the Round Mountain Ranch barn, they’ve taken art classes with him both at The Cove’s Pisgah Mountain Lodge, and at Frye’s gallery, and life is made more bright, colorful and genuine due to the simple brush strokes and camaraderie of this creative man. Come and visit the Folk Keeper Gallery and The Coves and see how sweet life can be.
Inspiring Painting Classes with Charlie Frye
If you’re plugged into the art community in the Blue Ridge Mountains, you have surely had the good fortune to run into a bearded man, wearing paint-streaked overalls, walking the streets of Lenoir. The mountain towns in North Carolina are fortunate to share a rich history of art and culture that celebrate the region, (just take a look at the painted quilt blocks along our roadsides), and artists like Charlie Frye, co-owner of Folk Keeper Gallery & Antiques in historic downtown Lenoir, make certain that this cherished tradition is continued in our NC mountain communities.
Many enjoy driving from town to town and taking in the painted quilt blocks that adorn local homes and barns. Frye is self-taught, and perhaps it’s this passion and drive that give his folk art such heart and soul. Step into his studio and you’ll find color and whimsy all around you.
Frye and his wife, Susan Frye, are a creative and productive team, so much so that they were named “Master Folk Keepers” by Carl White of Life in the Carolinas. Not only is their own art displayed, but they also sell work by other Southern folk artists. Frye paints on many different materials–rusted metal, wood, whatever suits his fancy. Frye has an innate sense for color and expression, and when he teaches, he also knows how to convey all he knows to his students so they, too, can bring forth their artistic expression.
Frye is more than a talented artist, he has a strong gift for teaching people of all ages how to create artwork of their own, exploring many different mediums, including paint. His work is representative of the charming life so many in the NC mountain communities lead—a simpler day to day existence and a slower Blue Ridge pace. Look at his creations and you will see the animals and folks who make the mountain towns in North Carolina all that they are. It’s clear that the Fryes adore their community and their home in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
He has shown his colorful artwork all over the mountain towns in North Carolina–at the Caldwall Arts Council, Wilkes Gallery, Morning Song Gallery, Burke Arts Council, Jo Sila Gallery, Root in Vine, Morganton City Hall, Caldwell Community College to name just a few. Frye was commissioned to create two painted quilt blocks at Round Mountain Ranch to contribute to a celebrated tradition begun in the region in 2001. Using colors and patterns to beautifully blend images of majestic mountains with free-flowing river waters, the design evokes all the natural wonder and charm of The Coves. The quilt blocks are named ‘Windows to Heaven’. Come take a look!
Folk Keeper Gallery is creatively hopping year round with Open Houses during the holiday season, artful collaborations with other galleries, and a varied summer art programs for kids from elementary through middle and high school, as well as adults.
Upcoming events at Frye Art Studio for those with children and grandchildren in the NC mountain communities:
- Intro to Art Summer Camp (5-8 yrs); Tuesday, June 12, 9-11 am; drawing, painting and small sculpture; $85 includes instructions, materials and snack.
- Collage & Mosaics Summer Camp (6-10 yrs); Tuesday, June 12, 1-3 pm; assemblage using various mediums including pictures, beads, tiles and more; $100 includes instructions, materials and snack.
- Intro to Art Camp (5-8 yrs); Wednesday, June 13, 9-11am; drawing, painting and small sculpture; $85 includes instructions, materials, and snack.
- Collage & Mosaics Summer Camp (6-10 yrs); Wednesday, June 13, 1-3 pm; assemblage using various mediums including pictures, beads, tiles and more; $100 includes instructions, materials, and snack.
- Intro to Art Summer Camp (5-8 yrs); Thursday, June 14, 9-11am; drawing, painting and small sculpture; $85 includes instructions, materials, and snack.
- Collage & Mosaics Summer Camp (6-10 yrs); Thursday, June 14, 1-3 pm; assemblage using various mediums including pictures, beads, tiles and more; $100 includes instructions, materials, and snack.
- Funky Chicken Summer Camp (6-10 yrs); Tuesday, June 19, 9-11 am; fun drawings and paintings of various animals; $85 includes instructions, materials, and snack.
- Mixed Media Montage Summer Camp (8-12 yrs); Tuesday, June 19, 1-3 pm; used of various mediums to create sculpture as well as 2D pieces; $90 includes instructions, materials, and snack.
- Funky Chicken Summer Camp (6-10 yrs); Wednesday, June 20, 9-11 am; fun drawings and paintings of various animals; $85 includes instructions, materials, and snack.
- Mixed Media Montage Summer Camp (8-12 yrs); Wednesday, June 20, 1-3 pm; used of various mediums to create sculpture as well as 2D pieces; $90 includes instructions, materials, and snack.
- Funky Chicken Summer Camp (6-10 yrs); Thursday, June 21, 9-11 am; fun drawings and paintings of various animals; $85 includes instructions, materials, and snack.
- Mixed Media Montage Summer Camp (8-12 yrs); Thursday, June 21, 1-3 pm; used of various mediums to create sculpture as well as 2D pieces; $90 includes instructions, materials, and snack.
- Over the Moon for Owls Summer Camp (8-12 yrs); Tuesday, June 26, 9-11 am; drawing and painting for all kinds of owls; $85 includes instructions, materials and snack.
- Sculpty Sculpt-Off Summer Camp (11-18 yrs); Tuesday, June 26, 1-4 pm; creating small sculptures using sculpy and paint; judged art show following final class (more details to come); $125 includes instructions, materials and snacks.
- Over the Moon for Owls Summer Camp (8-12 yrs); Wednesday, June 27, 9-11 am; drawing and painting for all kinds of owls; $85 includes instructions, materials and snack.
- Sculpty Sculpt-Off Summer Camp (11-18 yrs); Wednesday, June 27, 1-4 pm; creating small sculptures using sculpy and paint; judged art show following final class (more details to come); $125 includes instructions, materials and snacks.
- Over the Moon for Owls Summer Camp (8-12 yrs); Thursday, June 28, 9-11 am; drawing and painting for all kinds of owls; $85 includes instructions, materials and snack.
- Sculpty Sculpt-Off Summer Camp (11-18 yrs); Thursday, June 28, 1-4 pm; creating small sculptures using sculpy and paint; judged art show following final class (more details to come); $125 includes instructions, materials and snacks.
To register for camps, call or message (828) 320-7819 or send a FB message to Folk Keeper Gallery located at 901 West Avenue, Lenoir, NC.
And remember…you’re never too old to pick up a paint brush! As those at The Coves in the mountain towns of North Carolina discovered when they participated in Frye’s Wine & Design Class a couple of years ago, sipping and painting while Frye explained step by step how to apply color to their 12 x 12 wood board. Amazing paintings were created in the fresh air of the Pisgah Mountain Lodge veranda at The Coves.
Artist in residence programs are just one of the perks of living in such a vibrant and connected community in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Take a ride through the quaint towns on your way to visit The Coves, and keep an eye out for the Quilt Trails in NC; there are nine trail routes to explore along the way. You’ll find two of Frye’s quilt blocks hanging on the Round Mountain Ranch barn, reflecting the natural beauty that surrounds the folks who live in The Coves. And be sure to stop in the Frye’s Folk Keeper Gallery to pick up a little folk art to adorn your new home at The Coves.
If you’re exploring the area for the first time, ask for our 84 page complimentary Western North Carolina Visitor’s Guide which provides more information about living in the foothills.
2016 Summer Lenoir NC Events at The Coves
ARTIST IN RESIDENCE PROGRAM – Charlie Frye
Wine & Design Art Class – June 17, 2016
Attendees had a wonderful night with local artist Charlie Frye of Frye Art Studios in Lenoir, one of the best mountain towns in the Carolinas. There were a total of 11 ladies who attended the event. Frye loves to teach and set up his easel in the kitchen, while the students gathered around the bar. He provided everyone with a wood board about 12×12 inches in size. This became everyone’s painting canvas. Frye started the evening by taking everyone out onto the back veranda to take in the views from our Carolina mountain community.
The class was about painting a mountain scene, so what better inspiration than the views off the veranda from the Pisgah Mountain Lodge. Classes by Frye teach you to paint in steps. Frye would paint one section of the piece and the students were instructed to follow suit. He wouldn’t give out paint until he was finished demonstrating a particular step, then he provided the colors the students needed. Once everyone was was finished, attendees oohed and ahhed over each other’s painting. Frye is so much fun, and keeps folks laughing as he teaches. If we’re lucky, Frye might return in August. You can find Fyre at most Lenoir NC events.
COVES COOK OFF COMPETITIONS
Rib Cook-Off – June 18, 2016
Saturday, June 18, we had our annual Rib Cook-Off. This is one of residents most favorite events of the year. We have many Northern home owners, and they enjoy competing against a Southern who thinks he is the rib master. People started to rush in right before 1:00pm bringing their ‘right of the grill’ ribs. We had 13 entries along with lots of delicious sides and desserts.
The day stated with judging. Rib samples are collected from each plate for the judges to taste. The judges taste, talk, and decide which rib will be the winner. The Director of Communications, Jacqueline Delk, announces the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners.
This year, Paul Brandenburg, property owner, won 1st place, Mona Houston, Equestrian Director, won 2nd, and Joe Poli, Real Estate Consultant for The Coves, won 3rd place. The rest of the day consisted of everyone eating, laughing, and listening to music from our guest musician, Sarah Tucker, local talent frequently seen at Lenoir NC events. It was a gorgeous Saturday, and most ended up out at the outdoor living room with a the fire pit to savor the evening sunset. We had around 50 people attend. It was a great event! The next cook-off competition is scheduled for August 20, 2016 at our Carolina mountain community.
Side Dish Cook-Off – August 20, 2016
Join us at the Pisgah Mountain Lodge for our annual Side Dish Cook-Off. Bring your most delicious dish from your collection of secret family recipes to battle the other dishes in this high stakes competition. No wagering allowed, but be sure to come with a hearty appetite to taste all the scrumptious side dishes.
The Side Dish Cook-Off will be held at our lodge from 1-4pm on Saturday, August 20th.
GUEST LECTURE SERIES – Don Gardner
Adventures in Hiking in Western North Carolina – August 2016
Resident of Lenoir since early 2000, Gardner travels the globe in search of the next hiking trail and has a special interest in Western North Carolina. He actively hikes with Smoky Scout’s Hiking Adventures. His guest lecture series presentations include:
- The Grand Canyon – Rim to Rim to Rim
- The Grand Tetons – The Teton Crest Trail
- Lookout Towers of Western North Carolina
- Adventures in Hiking in Western North Carolina
- Alaska – The Last Frontier
- Waterfalls of the Carolinas
- Hiking in the Appalachian Mountains
There’s always something going at The Coves. You’ll quickly find we are some of the friendliest folks you’ll ever meet in Western North Carolina (and we’re great cooks too!)
Call us directly at 828.754.0700 to schedule a tour.
If you’re exploring the area for the first time, ask for our 84-page complimentary Western North Carolina Visitor’s Guide, which gives you more information about living in the foothills of North Carolina.
Tasty Culinary Events, Artist in Residence and Guest Lecture Series
Back by popular demand, Chef Corey Hooks, Culinary Instructor at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute (CCC&TI) returned to our Pisgah Mountain Lodge to demonstrate tasty ways to serve up authentic Shrimp Gumbo. The smells of garlic, paprika and sausage floating through the lodge were as savory as his dish. Upcoming cooking classes include popular food truck specialties, everything chocolate and international flavors.
Cooking demonstrations by award winning local chefs are some of the many culinary events that take place year round at The Coves Mountain River Club. Our residents have an appetite for good food and are quite competitive in the kitchen.
Five times a year, we come together to compete for the first place title of The Coves Cook-off challenge and to listen to serenades by local musicians like Sarah Tucker. The four cooking competitions at the lodge:
- March – Best International Dish
- June – North Carolina BBQ Rib Challenge
- August – Best Side Dish
- October – Best Chowder
- December – Chili & Apple Pie Cook-off
If you’re comparing the best retirement places in North Carolina, we’re confident you’ll be pleased with our social clubs and lifelong learning opportunities. In addition to cooking events, The Coves is the host of a seasonal Artist in Residence and monthly Guest Lecture series.
Charlie Frye is The Coves first Artist in Residence and is commissioned to create and paint two quilt blocks on our Round Mountain Ranch barn that will be unveiled in May. These meaningful masterpieces will be included on the Quilt Block Trail of North Carolina, a collection of more than 200 painted quilt blocks throughout the state of North Carolina.
Paint splattered jeans, rolled at the cuff. Doc Martin boots. Layers of bright colored shirts. Coffee mug and paint brush in hand, famous local artist Charlie Frye is the talk of Lenoir. During the summer season, Frye visits the lodge for a relaxed lecture about art, what inspires him and to showcase a private art exhibit. The Artist in Residence changes seasonally.
Our Guest Lecture series at the lodge includes educational presentations by local hiking guides, avid gardeners, wellness trainers, musicians and our equestrian director, Mona Houston. Whether folks want to learn about trout fishing, fauna and flowers or how to whisper to a horse, there’s always something to learn from our guest speakers.
Did we mention our residents enjoy friendly competition? During the first week of the month, our residents meet at the lodge for Coves Game Night. Whether it’s a game of cards, Chess or Scrabble, our residents know how to have a good time. If you’ve wanted a sense of belonging, you will find it and more at The Coves Mountain River Club.
We know we offer one of the best retirement places in North Carolina.
If you’re exploring the area for the first time, ask for our 84 page complimentary Western North Carolina Visitor’s Guide which will provide more information about living in the foothills.
More about our guest speakers:
GUEST CULINARY CHEF – Executive Chef Corey Hooks
Born May 5, 1984 in Hickory, N.C.; Chef Hooks was raised in Lenoir where his passion for great food began. The youngest of a busy family, his father working two jobs and his mother running a small business, the family still made time to come together for a great home cooked meal. This relationship between food and family sparked his love for the culinary arts, and his passion of bringing people together with great food.
After graduating from West Caldwell High in 2002, he, his father, and brother had the opportunity of opening a small restaurant, Porky’s Bar-B-Q, in Taylorsville, N.C. Helping operate this restaurant for five years, he sought to further his knowledge of the industry by enrolling in Johnson and Wales University Charlotte in 2008. Landing a job at Youseff 242 restaurant in Hickory, while attending JWU helped strengthen and refine his skill set.
He apprenticed as Sous Chef under distinguished 5 Diamond Chef Cory Mattson at Youssef 242. Chef Mattson led the Fearrington House Inn, outside of Chapel Hill, N.C., for 10 years receiving the AAA 5 Diamond Award each year. Chef Hook’s drive led him to become Matton’s Sous Chef at Youssef 242 until May 2012.
In May 2012, Chef Hooks was hired as Executive Chef of Bistro 127 in Hickory N.C. to help bring creativity, refinement, passion, and his overall skillset to the kitchen. In September 2012, Bistro 127 was awarded Catawba Valley’s Best Chef.
ARTIST IN RESIDENCE – Charlie Frye
Paint splattered jeans, rolled at the cuff. Doc Martin boots. Layers of bright colored shirts. Coffee mug and paint brush in hand. Conversations with passersby. Art lessons being taught to children ages 5 to 85.
This is what you’ll find on any given day at Frye Art Studio in downtown Lenoir, NC. The owner of the studio and artist at work ~ Charlie Frye ~ known by many as just “Frye”.
It wasn’t until the age of 25 that he first picked up a paintbrush. But don’t let the lack of years fool you. This self-taught, 35 year old artist is a native of western North Carolina and a full time creator of all things art. Aside from his painting, he carves block prints and creates unique sculptures. Recycling is a way of life for him, so he uses repurposed objects in his creations. His canvases include unusual items, such as old maps, projector screens and burlap sacks.
What he is most known for though, are his acrylic Americana paintings. These compositions depict life in rural Appalachia, including many of farmers and musicians with the Blue Ridge Mountains as the backdrop.
Charlie has participated in several group art shows throughout Western North Carolina and the Southeast. Frye is currently represented by Wickwire Gallery in Hendersonville, Taupe Gallery in North Wilkesboro, and 87 Ruffin Street Gallery in Linville.
EQUESTRIAN DIRECTOR – Mona Houston
A gentle spirited woman, we nickname her the ‘horse whisper’ because of the incredible way she communicates with horses. On staff for more than 9 years, Houston has managed Round Mountain Ranch and is an avid rider. Her outreach efforts include an annual Kids Camp for 4-H Saddle Clubs.