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Hampton gallery exhibit flaunts Fort Monroe’s history and nature

Artist Noah Smith uses oil and acrylic paint on glass panels for his artwork featured at Blue Skies Gallery in Hampton.
Photo courtesy of Noah Smith
Artist Noah Smith uses oil and acrylic paint on glass panels for his artwork featured at Blue Skies Gallery in Hampton.

Local artists Barbara Gibson and Noah Smith have work on display at Blue Skies Gallery in Hampton.

Celebrating Hampton Roads’ coastal life is the theme for the current exhibit at Blue Skies Gallery in downtown Hampton featuring two local artists, Barbara Gibson and Noah Smith.

Gibson is a well-known Peninsula photographer who has no limits on what she photographs. Her work in the Blue Skies exhibit features a variety of coastal scenes from the Hampton Cup Regatta to nature.

She also captured the commemoration of the first Africans to come to America at Point Comfort, now known as Fort Monroe, in 1619. The annual August ceremony is held on the beach.

The digital photos are on canvas and have no embellishment such as paint, Gibson said.

The retired science teacher started taking pictures of her students participating in class. She would then post the pictures on the class bulletin board. She did so because education bulletin board kits lack diversity.

“At Lindsey Middle School, there were a good number of Asians students and (the school) has prominently Black students,” she said. “The parents and the students loved it. That developed a nice relationship with me, my students and their parents.”

Following her retirement, she took a photography class she found on Groupon with Marilen Crump, owner of Artinspired in Yorktown. Gibson then did a two-year apprenticeship with Crump.

“Marilen said she saw potential in me,” she said.

Gibson’s work is also featured in Central Art Gallery in Phoebus.

Gibson has photos from all around Hampton Roads including Norfolk Botanical Gardens and Yorktown. There’s one photo taken north of San Francisco and in Pennsylvania.

Noah Smith calls his work reverse window painting.

He paints on glass panels after drawing the image. He uses oil paint for the lines and acrylics for the color. His works are vibrant and all unique. Some pictures are placed in repurposed window frames.

For Smith, art is therapy. He readily admits to overcoming addiction and celebrates his sobriety every few months by creating a piece for himself.

“At nine months (of sobriety), I painted an osprey after seeing one and I look at him like he’s my guardian angel,” Smith said.

He gets his inspiration from “meditation walks” along the shore, primarily at Fort Monroe.

“I find peace being on the shoreline and connecting with nature. I get a sense of relief. It’s a spiritual journey,” he said.

In addition to creating works from his walks, Smith also does commission work and people find him through word-of-mouth. He can also be found at area art festivals.

The Coastal Summer exhibit featuring Barbara Gibson and Noah Smith is on display at Blue Skies Gallery until the end of June. The gallery is located at 26 S. King St., Hampton.

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