By Connie Leinbach
Award-winning artist Douglas Hoover has accomplished what Hollywood movie director Michael Moore could not.
When he was 15, as a rising young artist in a national show called “Artistic Discovery” in Washington, D.C., he got to meet the late Roger Smith, chairman and CEO of General Motors Corp.
“I spoke to Roger Smith, even shook his hand,” Hoover said in an interview at his artisan booth at the Ocrafolk Festival in June.
Smith, who helmed the auto company from 1981 to 1990, became widely known in Moore’s documentary “Roger & Me,” in which Moore seeks an interview with the elusive Smith.
Hoover still has the newspaper article showing his triumph.
The drawing that afforded this opportunity to show his work in the nation’s capital still hangs in his Archdale studio.
Islanders and visitors may view Hoover’s new work at a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 19, in Down Creek Gallery.
A full-time painter, Hoover’s artistic talents appeared early when his maternal grandmother encouraged his work.
“I would stay with my grandmother in the summer and would sit at her kitchen table and doodle,” he said.
His family encouraged him as did his school art instructors, especially his high-school teacher Mike Durham, with whom Hoover is still friends.
“He entered me into a lot of shows and contests” Hoover said, including the juried show in Greensboro that sent his work to Washington.
When his mother took him at the age of 12 to a nearby art gallery to see a show by local artists Bob Timberlake and Ward Nichols a light went on.
“Their work was pretty inspirational,” Hoover said. “I realized that you could make money at this.”
Drawing in charcoal was his preferred medium for a long time but these days oil paints reign.
In college at Randolph Tech, Asheboro, Hoover concentrated in graphic design and advertising.
“My dad’s a printer,” he said. “Printer’s ink is in my blood.”
He then worked in graphic design for 20 years all the while continuing his painting.
“My work is very ocean-centric, very coastal,” he said.
Of note on the island, Hoover produces the calendars for Ocracats and created the logo for Blackbeard’s Pirate Jamboree. His artwork for the latter organization will be on this year’s jamboree T-shirts.
When the recession hit in 2008, he decided to quit graphic art and jump fulltime into fine art.
“And I became the happiest man in the world,” he said.
About a year before that, Corky and Sue Pentz agreed to show his original paintings in their Harborside Motel office-gift shop.
“They helped me get my foot in the door,” he said.
Hoover gets commissions for pet and people portraits, but he is most well-known on the island for his prolific scenes of island life.
Last year, Ocracoke Coffee commissioned him to do a painting of the popular gathering spot in honor of the business’s 20th anniversary.
Several months ago, he got a call out of the blue from Our State magazine to illustrate a recently published book of Editor Elizabeth Hudson’s essays titled “How to Collect a Life.”
“They wanted 35 paintings in one and a half months,” he said, a feat he accomplished.
The small book is liberally illustrated with Hoover’s paintings.
You can see more of Hoover’s work online at douglashooverstudios.com.