Robert Ray painting in Raleigh

“Appalachian Sentinel #8” by Ashe County resident Robert Ray is on display in the Raleigh office of N.C. House Rep. Ray Russell (D-Boone).

RALEIGH — Ashe County artwork from Florence Thomas Art School is hanging in the legislative office of N.C. House Rep. Ray Russell (D-Boone), according to a release from his legislative assistant, Anna Meadows.

“When Rep. Ray Russell moved into his Raleigh legislative office in January, he knew right away how he wanted to decorate the walls,” Meadows said in the press release. “There were family photos of course, but he also wanted to highlight the beauty of District 93 as well as the talents of area artists.”

Russell called on West Jefferson’s Florence Thomas Art School, where director Joni Ray agreed to lend artwork on a rotating basis, according to the press release. The first instillation comes from Robert Ray, called “Appalachian Sentinel #8,” an oil-on-canvas painting of a rustic barn amid rolling hills and trees with an ominous cloud overhead, the press release said.

“It brings me such joy to find reminders of home from these works of art when I am in Raleigh,” Russell said in the press release. “I am reminded of the beauty of the landscape that I must work to protect and the beauty of the people I am serving.”

Robert Ray is a self-taught painter who has lived in Ashe County since 1963, who said that growing up in the mountains has given him an appreciation of the beauty of the area’s landscape and its people, according to the press release. His work can be found at the Art Cellar in Banner Elk, the press release said.

Another painting, “Farmer Brown’s in Winter,” by Boone businessman and water colorist Joe Miller is also hanging in Russell’s Raleigh office, the release said.

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