Category Archives: Art

Ray Matthews 1950-2022

I hadn’t lived on the Outer Banks but a few weeks when I met Ray. He was a waiter at Seafare Restaurant when I was in the kitchen putting dirty dishes through a Hobart machine. We became good friends. He was getting his feet wet with photography, and I was also becoming immersed. That commonality solidified our relationship. 

Months later we discovered our birthdays were the same day. Surely we were kindred spirits. Times were spent with photography. I delved into his collection of books, learning more about master photographers, composition and technique.

He had just built a small darkroom where with his help, I made my first color print. It didn’t turn out well, yet inspired me to set up my Beseler enlarger at home. From then on I was off and printing. His statement “I want to make photography my life’s work” is etched in my mind. At that time he was determined and couldn’t have been more than 24 years old.

Over the years, we collaborated, commiserated and at times competed for art shows and publications. Always friends, we both explored and consumed the nature around us. His work ethic was energizing for me to continue photography even though at times, things seemed tough.

Over decades, Ray produced an extraordinary body of work, and he loved it. I will truly miss him and his influence on what I do. Mostly though I’ll miss the little things, like his occasionally dropping by my studio announcing, “Mike, let me take you to lunch, my treat.” That would mean a ride to Lisa’s Pizza and Ray ordering Chicken Parmesan.

I’ll miss meeting with him at another favorite place, Cape Point, where on more than one occasion we toasted each other with a rum and coke, waiting for the magical light of a setting sun. 

Our friendship was perhaps the longest, most endearing of my life. If it hadn’t been for Ray, there’s no telling where I’d be, just not shoving dishes through a Hobart.

The Stick Show

For the past 44 years, the Dare County Arts Council has announced a call for entries for the Frank Stick Memorial Art Show. It’s the longest running visual arts exhibition in the county. Frank Stick was a renown Outer Banks artist, a preservationist and was instrumental in having Cape Hatteras designated as our first National Seashore.

I’ve made a piece for nearly every show. This year there were well over a hundred entries, with an award for Best in Show. There are also 4 Excellence Awards, 3 Honorable Mentions and a People’s Choice award.

Many of the subjects are Outer Banks oriented.

Ray Matthews is a master printer. His photograph of an aerial view at Hatteras Inlet was brilliant. He’s inspired me since we first met in 1973.

I had a difficult time deciding on a People’s Choice, but ultimately went with James Perry’s mixed media abstract on the far right. I was taken by his use of shapes and vibrant colors.

My entry was a 23×28 framed photograph of a Farm Truck taken last November in the hills of Virginia, near Shenandoah National Park. It earned an Excellence Award and added another ribbon to some that I’ve acquired over the years.