By Susan Shinn
LEXINGTON ó Bob Timberlake turned 70 this year, and what better way to celebrate this milestone than with an exhibit of his artwork?
Seventy pieces of Timberlake’s original art are on display at the Bob Timberlake Gallery in Lexington as part of “Celebrating 70.”
The gallery is located at 1714 E. Center St., off I-85 at exit 94 and the exhibit runs through July 28.
Timberlake estimates he’s completed some 800 to 900 paintings through the years. He started painting professionally in 1970, but there are paintings in the exhibit from well before that date.
The exhibit has a bit of Rowan County in it. After all, Timberlake was born in Salisbury. There’s a painting of the Alexander Long house in Spencer, and several paintings in the exhibit are owned by Salisbury residents.
Timberlake proudly points out a chest he built in high school, which won a national award ó his first.
He spent 350 hours on the piece of furniture ó this attention to detail would become a hallmark of his later endeavors.
“We’re still using some of the aspects of that chest in my furniture building,” Timberlake says.
He notes that he’s spent nearly 70 years “painting, doodling, drawing.”
Timberlake is self-taught. Over the years, he copied other artists, eventually developing his own style.
He was encouraged to paint full-time by Andrew Wyeth, the icon of 20th century American realism.
He’s been doing just that for 37 years.
He now has time to paint more and more, he says, thanks to son Dan, who runs the business for him.
“I finished a painting today,” Timberlake says during the event’s press conference. “I paint whenever I can. It’s the thing I want to do the most.”
Every painting has a story, and if you’re talking to Timberlake about his paintings, those stories tend to run on the long side.
That’s OK, though, because Timberlake is as wonderful a storyteller as he is a painter. He tells the kind of stories that give you, as he calls them, “chilly bumps.”
“Mr. Garrison’s Slab Pile” was one of the first paintings he sold. In 1970, the painting went for $35. Today, according to Frank Stoner, gallery president, it’s worth $50,000.
Timberlake doesn’t have one favorite painting ó he has lots of them.
“The one I just finished is my favorite,” he says.
There are others, too.
“Somewhere in Time” from 1982 graced the front of a coffee table book by the same name. It was a retrospective of Timberlake’s early work.
(Timberlake and the late Charles Kuralt had collaborated on a book called “The World of Bob Timberlake” in 1976. It sold out immediately.)
Timberlake also likes “Ray’s Place,” completed in 1998, the home of storytellers Ray and Rosa Hicks.
He points out portraits of Iron Eyes Cody and Dan Melton, his next-door neighbor, and Harry Anderson, a good friend at Bald Head Island. “The Pilot,” a painting of Pilot Mountain, was done for a fundraiser for a civic center.Several original paintings are available for purchase.
The exhibit does a good job of showcasing the variety of Timberlake’s subjects ó from portraits to landscapes to old homes to beach scenes.
Stoner says he picked out about 110 paintings from Timberlake’s body of work and narrowed down from there, concentrating on different seasons and styles.
There are paintings from the ’60s as well as a painting Timberlake completed just recently.
That painting, “Winter Garden,” will be released this fall as a print, according to Stoner.No matter how many accolades or awards the artist receives, Stoner says, “he’s still Bob.”
“We’re just happy for him. All of these paintings are a reflection of Bob.”
Hours for the Bob Timberlake Gallery are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday.
For more information about “Celebrating 70,” call the gallery at 336-249-4428 or visit www.bobtimberlake.com.
nnnContact Susan Shinn at 704-797-4289 or email@example.com.
By Susan Shinn