The Outer Banks for Arts & Culture Lovers

By Molly Harrison | Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Just because the Outer Banks is famous for the beach, surfing, watersports, fishing, nightlife and family activities, doesn’t mean there it doesn’t have a cultured side as well. If you love classical music more than 80s dance parties, galleries more than tackle shops, art exhibits more than pirate festivals, peaceful gardens more than parasailing adventures, stay tuned because this blog is for you. This week we’re delving into the Outer Banks’ arts and culture scene.

Photo: Mike Davis' solo mixed-media exhibition is now on view at Dare County Arts Council in Manteo.

Visual Arts

Dare County Arts Council

In the heart of downtown Manteo in the old courthouse building, Dare County Arts Council (DCAC) is the hub of Outer Banks arts. The building has several large galleries, which are full of a variety of artwork, including paintings, photography, ceramics, sculpture, jewelry and more. DCAC hosts numerous events, art classes and monthly artist exhibits as well. In August there are two exhibits: Journeys, A Hatteras Island Group Show featuring works by Linda Browning, Raphael Robinson and Rhonda Bates in the upstairs Courtroom Gallery; and Faces of Eve, mixed media by Mike Davis in the Vault Gallery. Mary Edwards’ watercolors are on exhibit through January 23 in the Vault. For info, click here.

New World Festival of the Arts

DCAC’s annual outdoor juried festival of fine art and craft, New World Festival of the Arts, is this week. Held Wednesday, August 11 and Thursday, August 12, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days, it’s a huge gathering of artists from all along the East Coast on the beautiful Manteo waterfront. It looks like the weather is going to be perfect for strolling and shopping among the artists’ tents. Now in its 39th year, this art show is an annual summer tradition in Manteo. Bring the family because there’s a lot to do in Downtown Manteo besides the art show: a playground, dolphin and sailing tours, restaurants, ice cream, candy and coffee shops, a brewery, a wine bar and distillery, museums, boutique shopping, several art galleries, a bookstore and more.

Photo: New World Festival of the Arts brings dozens of artists to the Downtown Manteo waterfront this week.

Galleries

If you love the visual arts, there are many galleries on the Outer Banks that showcase local and regional artworks. From Corolla to Ocracoke and every town and village in between, you’ll find galleries large and small, some focusing on one artist and others filled with the works of many artists. Find a rundown of the all the Outer Banks galleries and shops that sell art here.

Literary Arts

Writers of all types are inspired by the Outer Banks. From books about the history of the Outer Banks to novels set on these barrier islands to true life crime stories, there’s a book about the Outer Banks for everyone. All the local, independent bookstores stock a wealth of titles, and their staff members can steer you to the perfect books for your reading interest. See a list of local bookstores and stores that sell books here.

A New Novel: Between Tides

This week Outer Banks residents are celebrating the release of Roanoke Island resident Angel Khoury’s new novel, Between Tides. The novel, set on both the Outer Banks and Cape Cod, weaves a bit of a true story into a beautiful work of historical fiction. It's the story of a life-saving station keeper who leaves Cape Cod to start a new life on the Outer Banks, told from the perspective of his first wife to the daughter of his second (and consecutive) wife. The book officially released on August 10, and Downtown Manteo store Sam & Winston is holding a kickoff party on Tuesday, August 10 at 5 p.m. There will be signed books for sale, plus music and refreshments.

Khoury will be signing her books at Downtown Books in Manteo on Friday, August 13 from 2 to 4 p.m. On Friday night at 6 p.m., Downtown Books is hosting A Reading and Conversation with Khoury in the Courthouse Gallery, but as of now it's sold out.

Photo: Local author Angel Khoury's debut novel was released this week.

History

Freedmen, Surfmen, Heroes - The Unique Story of Keeper Richard Etheridge and the Pea Island Lifesavers

The history of the U.S. Lifesaving Service on the Outer Banks is fascinating in its own right, but the the U.S. Life-Saving Service Station Pea Island stands out as the most compelling. The station was the only one in the history of the service with an all-Black crew, and its keeper, Richard Etheridge from Roanoke Island, was the nation's first Black keeper. On Wednesday, August 11 at 12 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., descendants of the the Pea Island Lifesavers will tell the story of the station at Freedmen, Surfmen, Heroes - The Unique Story of Keeper Richard Etheridge and the Pea Island Lifesavers. This free event will be held at the Pea Island Preservation Society, 622 Sir Walter Raleigh Street, Manteo. For information about the society, click here.

Breeches Buoy Drill at Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station

Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station in Rodanthe is the most complete site of all remaining life-saving stations in North Carolina and one of the most complete sites in the nation. With two stations and five outbuildings, it's the perfect place to learn more about the service and its dramatic rescues. Every Thursday at 2 p.m., you can witness the Breeches Buoy Apparatus Drill to learn how the lifesavers did their work. The program is included in admission, which is $8 with discounts for seniors and children. Click here to learn more.

N.C. History on Two Wheels

At Roanoke Island Festival Park in Manteo, you can learn about North Carolina's bicycle history in an exhibit called N.C. History on Two Wheels. It's free and open to the public through September 14. While you're there, be sure to pay admission to Festival Park to learn about the history of the early colonists. And if you really love history, visit the Outer Banks History Center. Click here for info.

Photo: The Surf & Sounds Chamber Music Festival is coming up from August 24 to 27.

Musical Arts

You can enjoy live music every day of the week no matter where you are on the Outer Banks in the summer. Acoustic music and bands are popular at restaurants, bars, parks and more from Corolla to Ocracoke. But if your taste leans more to jazz or classical than reggae or rock, you're in luck.

Jazz with John Sanchez

NC Coast Grill & Bar in Duck hosts live jazz every Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m. Jazz with John Sanchez is held outdoors, under the tent on the waterfront, and it's free.

Surf & Sounds Chamber Music Series

It's not this week, but 7th Annual Surf & Sounds Chamber Music Series presented by the Don & Catherine Bryan Cultural Series is coming up from August 24 to 27. A Piano Quintet will perform on August 24 at All Saints Episcopal Church in Kitty Hawk and on August 25 at St. Andrews by the Sea Church in Nags Head. A String Quartet will perform on August 26 at Cape Hatteras Secondary School and on August 27 at Dare County Arts Council.

Nature Arts

The Elizabethan Gardens

If you appreciate the art of organizing Mother Nature's beauty into gardens and lovely spaces, The Elizabethan Gardens on Roanoke Island is the perfect place for you. Tucked into a shady nook on the north end of Roanoke Island, it's a wonderful place to stroll and admire trees, flowers, greenery, statues, fountains and more. The gardens offers summer programs for kids, seasonal events and frequent creativity workshops for adults.

Ask a Master Gardener

If you're a gardener yourself, you'll be interested to know that you can reach out to a real, live Master Gardener every week. Every Wednesday from April through November, Dare Master Gardener volunteers are available to answer your gardening questions or assist you in identifying weeds, plants and other problems. Stop by the Arboretum at Baum Senior Center, 300 Mustian Street in Kill Devil Hills, from 9 to 11 a.m. to enjoy the Arboretum and have your gardening questions answered – for free! Bring a picture or example of the problem if possible. For more information, call (252) 473-4290 or click here.

 

About the Author Molly Harrison
Molly Harrison is managing editor at OneBoat, publisher of OuterBanksThisWeek.com. She moved to Nags Head in 1994 and since then has made her living writing articles and creating publications about the people, places and culture of the Outer Banks. When not working she practices and teaches yoga and spends as much time as possible outside and in or on the water with her husband and two children.