Chapel Hill: Community

Brushstrokes: Artist’s experiment supports the IFC

Portrait of long-time Chapel Hill artist and art teacher Paul Hrusovsky, in his Studio Design Gallery at The Courtyard, 216 West Franklin Street, Chapel Hill.
Portrait of long-time Chapel Hill artist and art teacher Paul Hrusovsky, in his Studio Design Gallery at The Courtyard, 216 West Franklin Street, Chapel Hill.

The Inter-Faith Council has always been one of artist Paul Hrusovsky’s charities to support.

“I taught in the schools for so long, and I saw children who did not have food available at home,” the former art teacher said. “It affected their performance. The schools were providing food for these children. I just think it is so necessary that people have immediate access to food if they need it.”

So to honor friends on their birthdays or for no particular reason, Hrusovsky will often make a donation to the Inter-Faith Council.

This month, however, Hrusovsky is doing something rather unusual.

His current exhibit, up at Crook’s Corner through Nov. 30, is all about the IFC.

The 24 paintings in the show have no prices on them.

“You let your conscience be your guide,” he said, calling the show an experiment. “Take whatever you are going to pay for a piece, put it in an envelope, and deliver to me at 431 W. Franklin Street.”

The address, inside The Courtyard, is where just over a year ago, Hrusovsky opened Studio Design Gallery, his new studio as well as a store that sells furniture from the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s. There is a mail slot on the door for outside business hours.

“All I ask is that there is just one painting (purchased) per family,” Hrusovsky. There is a list at the bar for buyers to write down their name.

Hrusovsky hopes to make an even bigger impact than usual for the IFC with the donations. “Secondly, I am giving a chance to younger people who tell me that they cannot afford my paintings,” he said.

All but one of the paintings are 12 x 12 acrylic abstracts on canvas. “There is a funny realist one called “Holy Cow” that is 24 x 24. The cow has a gold halo on it, and it is for all my fans that work at Crooks,” Hrusovsky said.

The other 23 works are a deviation from Hrusovsky’s longtime work in realism. This veering off began after a 2012 show at Durham’s Craven-Allen Gallery which was profoundly autobiographical.

“That show took so much out of me since I was revealing so much about my family, so I needed to get back to something that was fun and not think so much about what I was doing on canvas,” he said.

This something fun was collecting Mother Nature’s offerings on his daily walks in the woods and letting their colors and shapes influence his work. “I draw the pieces I’ve gathered, and they become the inspiration.”

Some of his daily walks take Hrusovsky past the community kitchen at 100 W. Rosemary St. in Chapel Hill, where he says there seem to be more people needing assistance. “This is one way I can help.”

Inter-Faith Executive Director John W. Dorward said Hrusovsky’s sense of a growing need is correct.

“There are more of us that are offering services related to hunger and food issues, and yet our numbers keep going up,” he said.

The the community kitchen served 84,000 meals last year and is on pace to serve 95,000 meals this year, Dorward said.

“That is a lot for a small town like this,” he said.

The food pantry, located at 110 W. Main St. in Carrboro, allows members to come in once every 30 days and get groceries. “We have well over 4,000 households in Chapel Hill and Carrboro who use this but not everyone comes in every month,” Dorward said. “That is a lot of people.”

The IFC also offers holiday meals through the food pantry, and this year 700 families signed up in just three days to receive this. “We could have done more but can’t afford to,” Dorward said.

Most of what the IFC ( gives out is donated from a wide range of sources including churches, UNC Food Services, and companies. “Individual citizens are very good at helping,” Dorward said.

“All of the support is really wonderful,” he added. “It keeps us going because there are days where we wonder ‘where is it all going to come from?’”

Write to Deborah R. Meyer at