VINTON–Local artist Walt Hodges opened his first solo art exhibit in ten years on November 4 at Metropolitan Community Church of the Blue Ridge on Jamison Avenue in Roanoke.
Hodges grew up in the Mount Pleasant area, the youngest of four children and the only son. His sister, Carolyn Hodges Williams is well-known in Vinton as a past co-chair of the Vinton Relay for Life.
Hodges discovered his unique gift and identified his path in life when he won his first art competition in second grade.
He graduated from William Byrd High School, where he was a drum major for the WBHS Terrier Band, and then studied fine arts at East Carolina University.
Hodges lived in the Greensboro area for many years where he was a well-known hairstylist and also won regional acclaim as an artist.
“There is such a unique relationship between fine arts and cosmetology,” said Hodges. “They involve the same elements of color, shape, form, design, and texture. They are a good fit.”
He returned to the Roanoke Valley nine years ago to take a position as director of a local school of cosmetology and to be near his aging parents. He now owns and operates Masterpiece Hair Studio in the Garden City area.
Hodges sees himself as a “modernist” in art, although one of his favorite paintings in his newest collection is of butterflies, “In the Garden: An Homage.”
There is a family story behind the painting. His father passed away three years ago and his mother followed barely eight months later, both in their nineties. Months after their deaths, Hodges noticed a pair of butterflies flitting around his yard. He photographed the butterflies and then turned the photographs into a painting.
Many cultures, including the ancient Greeks, Mayan, Irish, and Japanese believe that butterflies house the spirits or souls of those who have passed on and visit the living to assure them that all will be well, and that’s what Hodges and his sister choose to believe. A note with the painting states “I guess I’ll see you next lifetime. We’ll be butterflies.”
The focus of his current exhibit is on sharing his Christian experience through large non-representational paintings. These works were inspired by the nearly 100 year old stained glass windows at Metropolitan Community Church of the Blue Ridge, which was designated as a state and national historic landmark recently.
“My paintings are energetic and bold and beautifully detailed using vivid color combinations and large sweeping brush strokes,” said Hodges. “I view my paintings as a portal into my interior life—on a path of discovery and a journey of the Spirit, telling stories of God’s love.”
Hodges was buoyed by the reception his “Then Came Morning” paintings received on opening day of the exhibition and hopes to begin marketing his art work nationally in the coming year.
“So many people at the reception said that my paintings made them feel peaceful and led them to understand my Christian growth,” said Hodges. “It was very fulfilling to me.”
Hodges’ exhibit at the church located at 806 Jamison Avenue will continue through January 4, 2013. More information and galleries of his work are available online at http://walthodges.com/ and on Facebook.