Sedberry to sign latest artwork at Gary’s Barbecue
By Susan Shinn
CHINA GROVE ó You can order your barbecue at Gary’s on a sandwich, on a tray, or on a plate.
On June 12, you can have some artwork on the side.
For the first time, Gary Ritchie, owner of Gary’s Barbecue, will host a signing party for Betty Sedberry.
The event will take place from 5:30 to 9 p.m.
Betty, a well-known Spencer artist, has painted a watercolor of the popular China Grove restaurant. Only 1,000 of the limited-edition prints will be available.
Gary opened his barbecue joint on April 21, 1971, when he was 22 years old.
Betty has made the painting an ode to the era, with ’70s vehicles parked outside.
That’s sure to please Ritchie, an old car afficionado.
There’s a ’57 Chevy convertible, a ’69 Chevelle Super Sport, a Black ’65 Pontiac GTO, a ’68 Corvette, a ’66 Mustang Sprint and an old Ford pickup.
There’s even a 1968 Plymouth Fury, which was driven by the Highway Patrol.
If you’ve ever spent any time at Gary’s, you know the men in silver and black take quite a few meals there.
There’s a trooper standing by the vehicle, talking on his radio. The vehicle was based on one driven by the late Joe Bracey.
(I like to think that’s Joe himself standing there.)
Cars were what brought the artist and the restaurateur together.
A couple of years ago, Betty was doing a watercolor of Zesto’s. She wanted to put a classic Thunderbird in the scene, but couldn’t get the angle quite right.
She knew Gary displayed T-birds at his restaurant, so she headed down to China Grove to check em out.
While she was there, Gary mentioned he’d like to have a watercolor of his restaurant sometime.
After a year of work, Betty has finished the piece.
“It takes a long time and a lot of details,” Betty says. “There’s a lot of research before you do the painting.”
By accident, Betty has completed a third in her series of vintage restaurants.
The legendary Al’s Nighthawk was the first.
The past couple of years have been busy for Betty. She sold her building in 2006 and her framing business, which is now The Art Station.
She works out of her home studio.
“I really miss the people, but I get out a lot, to restaurants around town, and I’ll see them,” she says. “The kind of business I was in, you didn’t have customers ó you had friends who happened to do business with you. That’s the part I really enjoy.”
Betty has worked with Diversified Graphics for years to make her prints. Together, they’ve completed more than 100 prints.
Owner Frank Goodnight has witnessed Betty’s growth as an artist, he says. “She’s just a wonderful artist and a lot of fun to work with.”
Betty just recently completed the proofing process for the prints.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Betty says. “I’ve gotten to know Gary. He is a fine person, and so patient. He made some suggestions I hadn’t thought about.”
Gary and Betty signed the original, and they’ll be available to sign the prints during the party next week. Prints are $45 each.
The original will be displayed at Gary’s Barbecue.
Betty’s artwork is available at The Emporium, The Art Station, Fine Frame Gallery, The Framing Gallery.
Gary, who just turned 60, is pleased to have his restaurant commemorated in artwork.
“Gary’s Barbecue won’t be here forever,” he says.
Over the years, he says, he’s been blessed with good employees and good customers.
“There’s been so many generations come through here,” he says. “That’s what makes it special for me. It’s turned into a gathering spot for the community.”
Cari Price is a member of the families who are carrying on the tradition of eating at Gary’s. Cari works for Diversified Graphics.
She first came to the restaurant when she was 3 days old, with her parents, Nancy and Ben Adams.
Cari in turn brought son Cole when he was 4 days old. The tyke is now 18 months old.
“We like the family atmosphere and we know everybody there,” Cari says.
For more information about the signing party, call Gary’s Barbecue at 704-857-8314.