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By: Erin Smith

If you walk through the Bladenboro Visual Arts Gallery, one gets a sense of comfort and nostalgia looking at the paintings and pottery works on display by artist Patty Speights of Lumberton. The theme for the show is Southern Comfort.

Speights’ artwork is on display in the Bladenboro Visual Arts Gallery through Sept. 11 which is located on the second floor in the Bladenboro Historical Society Building at 818 Main Street, Bladenboro. Deborah Justice said that she saw several pieces of Speights’ work in a gift shop in Bladenboro and contacted her about doing a show at the art gallery.

The show is dedicated to the memory of Speights’ sister, Betty Bryan who resided in Bladenboro. Speights said she arrived at the Southern Comfort theme as all of her works on display feature different aspects of life growing up in the South. 

Speights said when Justice called her, she immediately said yes and began to plan which pieces she wanted to show.

“I knew I had enough paintings,” said Speights. She said she asked her husband for his opinion about doing the show and he encouraged her to do it.

Speights said she is a prolific painter and has her works displayed in many locations. She said she has loaned out paintings to friends, one large painting is on display in the city of Lumberton’s municipal building, and paintings are stored in her home.

Speights grew up in Barnesville and enjoyed spending time with her father on their farm. She said her father would often draw pictures. Speights said that he would often start a drawing and she and her siblings would finish it.

Speights said when she would draw something, her father was always so pleased and would encourage her. She said she has always been a painter.

She said later on she decided to take a pottery class, but there were too many students in the class and she could not get the help she needed. Speights said she went to a show in Southern Pines and a professor looked at some of her work and invited her to join his class at Montgomery Community College.

She said her favorite part of the class was learning to create her own glazes for her pottery work.

“The glazes aren’t always exactly the same,” said Speights.

One piece she has one display at the BVAC gallery is called Girl Into Woman. Speights said the piece started out as Elizabeth from the Bible.

“I’ve been wanting to do something Biblical,” said Speights.

She said that when she put the piece in the kiln, the end product resembled a pregnant woman. Justice said that one  recent weekend she was giving a tour of the gallery and a little girl who appeared to be about 5 years old was accompanying her mother on the tour. Justice said that when she began to talk about the piece, Girl Into Woman, the child attempted to hug the display. 

Justice said that the young girl also was fascinated with two paintings. One painting, Wake Up, depicts a rooster and the second painting, It Was a Great Time, depicts the front porch of a home complete with a deck of playing cards and two bottled Pepsis beckoning someone to come join in the fun.

Speights has had her work shown in jury-selected art shows and her work has received various honors both locally and statewide.

Speights also offers painting and clay ceramic enrichment for young and old alike in her studio located at 136 Patterson Road in Lumberton. Her works can also be purchased from the NC Specialty Shop in Wake Forest, Gold’s Art and Frames in Lumberton and at Sea Grove Pottery in Sea Grove and at her studio.