Midtown Raleigh News

Annual ‘Sisters’ show opens at Raleigh’s Local Color Gallery

Artist Virginia Owen will exhibit her jewelry and paintingsat Local Color Gallery in December.
Artist Virginia Owen will exhibit her jewelry and paintingsat Local Color Gallery in December. COURTESY OF VIRGINIA OWEN

When painter and jewelry-maker Virginia Owen is in need of a second opinion about her work, she snaps a photo and sends it off to her sister, Mary Beth Owen.

Mary Beth, a potter, always has a helpful comment. And she’ll send a photo of her work right back, hoping for some encouragement of her own.

“She’s such a great cheerleader for me and I hope vice versa,” said Virginia, 56, who lives in Knightdale.

“Oh, you are!” said Mary Beth, 53, who lives in Pittsboro, as the two discussed their work.

For eight years, the sisters have held an annual exhibit together at Local Color Gallery, a women’s art cooperative in Glenwood South.

This year’s show, “Sisters,” opens Friday at 22 Glenwood Ave. The show is from 6 to 9 p.m.

The sisters, the youngest siblings in a line of seven, grew up in Raleigh’s Five Points neighborhood and graduated from Broughton High School. They both attended N.C. State University and eventually graduated from Meredith College.

Virginia knew from an early age that she wanted to pursue art. Mary Beth didn’t recognize her passion for pottery until she took a clay class in college.

Both said their parents, though not artists, have had an influence on their work.

Their mother had an eye for design and was always decorating and rearranging their childhood home.

“That was kind of her palate,” Virginia said.

From their father, a scientist, they inherited an interest in how art materials are created and the process of making art. When Virginia is soldering jewelry or Mary Beth is mixing a glaze, they think of him.

“There’s a lot of chemistry in art,” said Mary Beth, who worked for many years as a pharmaceutical chemist.

After Virginia joined Local Color, she invited Mary Beth to join her for their first show together. Soon after, Mary Beth joined the cooperative as well.

They both love the camaraderie and encouragement from their fellow members.

“It’s been an inspiration to keep working because you have a place to show,” Virginia said.

Local Color is moving to a new location at 311 West Martin, a large gallery with many studios, so the sisters’ show will be the last Glenwood exhibit for the cooperative.

Virginia will exhibit landscapes and jewelry. Mary Beth will have a collection of her functional pottery.

Even when the sisters haven’t discussed which work they’re including in the show ahead of time, they’ll end up with similar themes or colors running through the exhibit.

They won’t be surprised if the same is true this year.

“You can tell we’re related,” they said in unison.