Oct 05, 2020
We recently spent the afternoon at Seaside Art Gallery, one of the largest and oldest galleries in Nags Head. Started by the Smith family as a one-room art gallery, Seaside Art Gallery is now one of the largest private art galleries in the southeast with 12 rooms, each with its own theme. The gallery opened its doors in 1961, the same year that Nags Head became a town. The Smiths believe that original art is for everyone. Their daughter, Melanie Smith, currently owns the gallery and she continues to uphold the same values by creating a comfortable atmosphere, with the idea that the gallery is approachable to everyone.
“I want people to feel comfortable, to come, to ask questions…there is no question that they should be embarrassed to ask…because unless you are someone like me growing up in it, how do you know?”
Seaside Art Gallery, Owner and Curator
Melanie’s parents originally opened the gallery as a means for her mother to showcase her art, as there were limited options for female artists available at the time. Melanie was very young when her parents started the gallery, and she’s been living and breathing gallery life ever since. Her extensive life experience in the art gallery has led her to be curator of the gallery as well. Melanie accompanied her father to Sotheby’s and Christie’s art auction houses as a child to gain the skills needed to collect great works. As she grew and gained knowledge, she became an art appraiser and has been an accredited fine arts appraiser with the International Society of Appraisers since 1996.
Melanie’s appraisal skills were called upon earlier this year when an original Salvador Dali woodcut print was found in a Kitty Hawk thrift store. Melanie was directly involved in appraising the surprise donation.
The entirety of Seaside Art Gallery’s collection was created by professional artists, local and international. A wide variety of artwork is included, ranging from paintings and sculptures to estate jewelry and antiques. Featured artists range from historical to contemporary, and, at any given moment, can include names like Picasso, Salvador Dali, Peter Max, David Hockney, Marc Chagall, or John Morrow. The art gallery currently has some original handcrafted animation artwork, which is not found in many other places. Animation artwork is a unique form of artwork that has been lost in modern times. Animated characters were individually painted onto celluloid to produce vivid images. The time-consuming animation process was replaced by digital inks in the late 20th century.
There is no shortage of Outer Banks art at Seaside Art Gallery. Most local OBX artists are inspired by the Outer Banks’ natural beauty, including the many personalities of the ocean. Many visitors to Seaside Art Gallery have commented on how peaceful and quiet the gallery is. As Melanie says, “it has given them a little safe space to come and be, before they go back into the world.” Melanie is a fixture at the gallery, there to guide you through or answer any questions. She is passionate about art and wants nothing more than to bring original art to everyone, with an educated understanding of the artwork.
Seaside Art Gallery has offered art shows since the late 1960s and they continue to hold a number of shows each year. One of their largest and better-known art shows is the International Miniature Art Show, which will celebrate its 30th year in 2021. Another favorite is the Animals in Art Show, in which a portion of the proceeds from the sale is donated to the Coastal Humane Society.
”Art is jewelry for the home.” -Melanie Smith
Stop into Seaside Art Gallery during your next visit to the Outer Banks. You’ll most likely leave calm and content, with a better understanding and appreciation of art. Perhaps you’ll leave with a one of a kind souvenir from your OBX vacation.
COVID-19 Precautions at Seaside Art Gallery
Due to its size, Seaside Art Gallery is able to continue to host art shows, despite COVID-19. Social distancing guidelines are able to be observed in the spacious gallery. In addition to social distancing, Seaside Art Gallery has taken many precautions in light of the pandemic. Masks and hand sanitizer are provided to all guests upon entering the facility, and all surfaces are wiped down regularly. They have even begun to showcase local artists on video demonstrations, which can be found on their website, for those that would like to enjoy art from their homes.
Grab a Bite to Eat After Your Visit
There are many excellent dining options in Nags Head within a few minutes of Seaside Art Gallery. Whether you want fresh Outer Banks seafood or a sweet treat, our Nags Head restaurant recommendations have you covered.