Food for Thought

04 Sep 2022

Depicting Wilmington’s diverse food scene for a good cause

By Kim Henry

Wilmington is well known for its beautiful sandy shores, but did you know that it’s also been named a top 10 food destination for a small town? Placing seventh in the entire country, Wilmington has no shortage of flavor and variety when it comes to culinary delights. So local artist Jeri Greenberg decided to collaborate with the innovative Art in Bloom gallery to celebrate this accomplishment and do some good at the same time.

Born in Maryland, Greenberg recalls how her connection to art began way back in her childhood. “My earliest memories are of drawing and painting; art has always been my safety zone,” shares this prolific artist. Fast forward to Greenberg spending many years immersed in the field of design and illustration in New York until she took a break from her busy work schedule to raise her two sons. Following this, Greenberg felt compelled to return to her own creative journey once again and so she joined an art class.

The class was run by Rhoda Yanow, and it was this inspiring teacher who introduced Greenberg to the medium of her next artistic chapter - pastels. After many years of the two women working together, Greenberg eventually took over teaching the class when Yanow moved on. “I like teaching, I like meeting other pastel artists and I like the person-to-person contact,” shares Greenberg.

Then, in 2019, Greenberg and her husband wanted to relocate from the hustle and bustle of city life and fell in love with Wilmington while they were visiting friends. The transition to a smaller town was pretty seamless, especially as Greenberg had already been invited to teach at the Cameron Arts Museum, where she continues to work to this day.

Motivated by taking ordinary scenes and capturing something extraordinary, Greenberg’s art often depicts stories of everyday situations. These urban landscapes are a far cry from the more traditional use of pastels for oceans and fields and perhaps this is why the energy of her art is so captivating. “I love the immediacy of pastels. It’s a very hands on medium. You don’t have to spend half your time mixing colors before you even get to the canvass,” smiles Greenberg.

Her appreciation for the details of seemingly mundane moments has led to an exciting body of work called Restaurants + Art. In collaboration with the local gallery Art in Bloom, the purpose of this project is to celebrate the thriving culture of Wilmington’s dining scene. “It’s also a kind of thank you to everyone who worked and survived the pandemic,” explains Greenberg. The process begins with Greenberg spending time soaking up the atmosphere of participating establishments, she then takes photographs to capture real life moments of the restaurant in action.

Next, Greenberg chooses which photo speaks to her the most and uses this as a basis for her pastel portrayal. “I like to highlight the magic of everyday simplicity. A glass on a table, the interaction between people working side by side,” explains Greenberg. The restaurant has first dibs on the final piece of art, although the entire collection will be displayed at the Art in Bloom gallery, with an opening night on September 19th, and continuing throughout the fall.  A few of the restaurants involved include The Cafe at Cameron Art Museum, Elijah’s on the River, The Basics, The Green House and Winnie’s Tavern. In addition, a percentage of the art sale proceeds will go to Nourish NC, a local non-profit whose mission is to “provide healthy food to hungry children, empowering them to succeed in the classroom and in their community.” In 2021 alone, this organization served 628,383 full meals to children in our community.

A winner of multiple awards, Greenberg has hosted exhibits across the country and is an official Unison Color Associate Artist. Her unique perspective presents the viewer with a host of vibrant moments, each frozen in time and telling its own story. “I want people looking at my work to be able to tell their own story as to what is happening,” shares Greenberg. This latest body of work is a win, win, win. Greenberg loves creating the paintings, the restaurants love buying them as well as being depicted in them and Nourish NC will benefit directly from every sale. Now that’s a feast of a story!

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