The Saints of Paint, a local group of fine artists who pool their gift for the local good, have united once again to exhibit “a handpicked selection of 50+ highly crafted artworks [that] together exemplify familiar themes of land and sky in a new, unexpected, whimsical light,” according to advance press from Mars Landing Galleries in Mars Hill. UnEarthed, on display at the venue through the end of the year, includes work from painters John Mac Kah and Ruthanne Kah, Andrew Mastriani, Jim Ostlund, Jodi O’Hara, Mark A. Henry, Michele Mitchell, Naomi Henry, and Dana Irwin. Eighty percent of the proceeds from artwork sales will help fund two nonprofits.
The Appalachian Barn Alliance is a repeat beneficiary of Saints of Paint shows. Located in Madison County — as is Mars Landing Galleries — the ABA works to preserve the iconic rural architecture of the area. The latest project is the maintenance of the flue-cured barns on the Smith Farm at Bailey Mountain Preserve.
Saints of Paint’s other highlighted entity is the Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre at Mars Hill University, a 47-year-old company known for producing classic and original works, many themed around Southern Appalachia.
Founder John Mac Kah calls Saints of Paint “an informal collective” of artists “whose work and practice reflects a deep appreciation for the natural environment, human, and animal rights.” In partnering with local nonprofits, the Saints hope to “help raise awareness of their missions and attain their fundraising goals by making art available to a larger audience.”
John and Ruthanne are both accomplished oil painters who often work en plein air; Ruthanne is also a teaching fiber artist for numerous craft schools and guilds. Mastriani works in oil but is perhaps best known for his large-scale charcoal drawings. Jim Ostlund’s oil-on-canvas landscapes favor coastal and mountain scenes (including many of downtown Marshall); he is also a well-known still life and portrait artist. Michele Mitchell is a classically trained realist who uses the palette of the Old Masters. Jodi O’Hara’s oils combine realism and fantasy elements. Mark A. Henry’s oils and pastels are set off by his custom frames that are artworks in themselves.