The Fine Art Museum at Western Carolina University is presenting an exhibition of paintings, miscellaneous art and memorabilia by the late Joel Morris, a WCU alumnus and iconic character who was fond of Cullowhee.
The “Artist and Friend” exhibit will be on display beginning Thursday, Sept. 8, with an opening reception scheduled for 5 to 7 p.m. The showing ends Friday, Sept. 16.
Morris (1947-2014) was a 1973 graduate with a degree in fine arts and made a career as a painter, both in traditional styles as well as through outdoor murals on buildings across the state. A Joel Baxter Morris “Old Hippy” Scholarship was established in his memory by a circle of friends to benefit students in the WCU School of Art and Design. One of those friends, Cullowhee businessman Norman West, said he remembers how Morris had a “big-tooth grin” and infectious laugh, and an ability to create art almost immediately and out of anything.
“This exhibition is a tribute to Joel’s unique creative spirit, but also is a tribute to the generosity of his longtime friends who both contributed to the scholarship endowment and also loaned the art work for the show,” said Matt Liddle, director of the School of Art and Design. “He was a special part of Western Carolina University. You could say he immortalized the Townhouse Restaurant, a legendary local hangout that used to stand where Noble Hall is now, with a drawing that he made into prints.”
The museum is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, with extended hours on Thursdays to 7 p.m. Admission and parking are free. To learn more, go to fineartmuseum.wcu.edu or call 828-227-3591.
By Geoff Cantrell