Cunningham & McCray in two-woman show; reception May 4, 5-7pm

Sunset River Marketplace, the eclectic art gallery in Calabash, NC, will feature Anne  & Ann: Abstracting nature in metal and oils, a dynamic two-woman exhibition of works by Anne Cunningham and Ann Parks McCray. The show opens on Friday, May 4 with an opening reception that evening from 5 to 7 p.m. and runs through Saturday, June 16.

According to an artists’ statement about the works, Anne Cunningham and Ann Parks McCray often unknowingly mirror each other’s art. It’s only after a studio visit or glimpse of a Facebook photo that they realize they’ve done it again. These two beach girls are called by the ocean and revel in being surrounded by light. They capture this appreciation in their art, McCray in highly textured oils on canvas and Cunningham through metal dyes and acids on metal. “Abstraction” might be their shared middle name as both artists extract the energy of an experience, location, or feeling more than represent its reality.

Sharing thoughts and being inspired by each other’s vision, these two kindred spirits often visit each other’s studios for art-filled conversations and observations. Both love texture and discovering new ways to create unusual surfaces. Establishing layer upon layer in their art, Ann and Anne enjoy exposing what is underneath, the hidden aspects of their creativity, to express nuanced light and mystery. Both of these artists work quickly and intuitively, trusting the process while recognizing the incalculable joy and privilege of living through art.

Since 1990, Cunningham has been on an exciting exploration using metals such as copper, brass, and aluminum to create free-form wall sculptures. She says, “Every day is an experiment – discovering new ways to texturize and shape the metals, layering with papers, weaving cut strips, applying inks, dyes, chemicals and paints.”

With no constricting boundaries, her work continues to change and evolve.  Cunningham’s work is represented by distinguished galleries around the country and in private and corporate collections such as S.A.S. Institute, Duke Medical Center, Bank of Birmingham, Marriott International, and United Health Care, Salt Lake City.  Cunningham’s work has been voted Best of North Carolina Artists, First Place in Mixed Media.

According to oil painter Ann Parks McCray, marrying beauty with function to harmonize space is one of her personal goals. She believes one’s visual experience is psychologically and emotionally significant to a positive life experience and that art inspires and comforts, heals and rejuvenates—that the human heart rests in beauty. Convinced art is meant to work as well as please, her art hangs in healing spaces in Texas, Ohio, North Carolina, and Montana.

Ann explains her work stylistically as “Post-Impressionist with a modern twist,” similar in feel to works appearing “after Monet and before Kandinsky.” These two artists are primary influences as are Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Cezanne, Camille Pissaro, Georges Seurat, and Edouard Vuillard.

An intuitive painter, McCray explains her process: “I begin a piece without defined intention; I wait for a composition to emerge. Often while listening to music and working quickly, I choose colors and utensils by feel. Beginning with a brush, I often incorporate spatula, palette knife, or wooden brush handles. I turn the canvas, so a finished piece has been worked from a number of directions. I study each piece in the full-wall mirror in my studio—to consider the painting in its reversed reflection—for hints of additions or revisions. This technique helps me merge further with the piece.”

Ann studied art at Amarillo College in Amarillo, Texas. She began a professional art career 25 years ago, creating large hand-built nonfunctional high-fire stoneware pottery. As a potter, one of her favorite aspects was glazing—applying abstract designs to clay. Eventually, she turned full attention to painting on canvas and now works primarily in oils.

The public is invited to attend the opening reception to meet the artists. Wine, hors d’oeuvres and other refreshments will be served. No reservations are necessary.

About Sunset River Marketplace

Sunset River Marketplace showcases work by approximately 150 North and South Carolina artists, and houses some 10,000 square feet of oils, acrylics, watercolors, pastels, mixed media, art glass, fabric art, pottery, sculpture, turned and carved wood and artisan-created jewelry. There are two onsite kilns and four wheels used by students in the ongoing pottery classes offered by the gallery. A custom framing department is available. There are realistic and abstract art classes as well as workshops by nationally and regionally known artists. For more information, call 910.575.5999 or visit the website at

Sunset River Marketplace is located at 10283 Beach Drive SW (Hwy. 179), Calabash, NC.  Hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For daily updates, “like” the gallery’s page on Facebook.


More images here