Barbara Hardy and Bob Ray at their Ocracoke home. Photo courtesy of the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts, Appalachian State University

Secret Garden Gallery’s last day on Ocracoke is Saturday, Sept. 23. Stop by to see Barbara and Ray off.  There will be sales including  Barbara Hardy’s signature silver and gold pieces are 50 percent off. Open 10 to 5:30 or 6.

By Connie Leinbach
Island artists Barbara Hardy and Bob Ray are moving their Secret Garden Gallery to Washington, Beaufort County.

The two have had their gallery/jewelry store on Ocracoke for 26 years, and are moving back to Hardy’s hometown to be closer to children and grandchildren.

“I started in a tiny shop on the harbor,” Hardy said. “But we’re reinventing ourselves after 26 years. It’s been a good run.”

While their Back Road shop, which closes on Saturday, sells jewelry and the couple’s art, the new quarters at 144 W. Main St., Washington, is twice the size and will have an expanded offering “for living a good life,” Hardy said. It will open at the end of October and have room for art shows, events, poetry readings and special workshops. Their website is; phone: 252-588-0067.

The Secret Garden Gallery on Back Road will move to Washington, N.C., and reopen in October. Photo: C. Leinbach

“We’re hoping all of our customers from Ocracoke and surrounding areas will find us,” she said.

Earlier this year, they sold their properties to Nat Schramel, whose family owns the Flying Melon Café. Plans for the gallery space after September are pending.

Meanwhile, Hardy and Ray’s two-person show, “Circles of Influence,” will continue until Dec. 2 in the main gallery of the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts at Appalachian State University in Boone.

Both artists are inspired by found objects, patterns and designs found in nature.

“The influence the artists have on one another and their shared love of rich texture and layered patterns will be immediately apparent even though each artist’s practice and techniques are unique and quite different from one other,” said Mary Anne Redding, Turchin Center curator and assistant director, about the show.

Ray, born just east of Kansas City, Missouri, works in a variety of media, from drawings, paintings, collage, and sculpture to correspondence and performance works.

He is a 2015 recipient of the North Carolina Arts Fellowship. His aesthetic borrows heavily from the Dada and Fluxus movements, with a strong combination of word, gesture, and image.

“A sense of something a little extra is the way I constructed an idea of life and then a life through art,” Ray said.
Since 1990, he has been active in the International Union of Mail-Artists, in which artists around the world share their work on postcards or clippings via the mail services.

Ray’s early body of music evolved into performance, poetry and theater.  For a couple of years, Ray had an evening show on Ocracoke’s community radio station WOVV 90.1 FM, called “Bobby Lovely and the Rabbit Opera.” The offbeat broadcast featured him and invited guests reading poetry and other creative works.
Hardy knew at the age of 9 that she was an artist.

‘Visible Ghosts,’ multimedia by Barbara Hardy. Photo courtesy of the Turchin Center

“At an early age I drew, painted and made things. At 9 years old, I knew and called myself an artist. Art fed me then and continues to feed me.”

Her artistic journey formally began at Appalachian State University, studying art education, with many media interests. She later studied painting and metal at Eastern Carolina University.

After attending college, Hardy taught art enrichment briefly in public schools. Later, she taught children and adults through local arts councils, community colleges and volunteer programs. The focus was to bring art out to local rural communities and villages that might not have art opportunities.

“After experimenting in many areas, I now concentrate in painting, sculpture and metal design,” she said.

In the last 25 years, she has shown her work at Emerge Gallery, Brevard College, Imperial Arts Center and various galleries on Ocracoke, Asheville, in private collections and in shows with Ray and others.

‘Circles of Influence’ art by Barbara Hardy and Bob Ray on view in the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts, Appalachian State University. Photo courtesy of the Turchin Center
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