Sugar Hollow, Virginia, 1979
Oil on canvas
Raymond Berry was part of the arts community at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) during the mid-seventies, earning his MFA in Painting and Drawing in 1975. He and fellow student David Bass, also in the Weaver Collection, studied during a “rich and interesting time”. Peter Agostini was a major force and influence, as was Ben Berns. Andrew Martin was important for all who were studying painting. Berry was an adjunct instructor at UNCG from 1974-77, and assistant to Agostini.
Sugar Hollow, is the name of a part of Morman’s River near Charlottesville, VA. Berry painted there “plein air” (outdoors) almost exclusively for nearly thirty years. This particular site was wiped out by a flood about a year after the completion of the painting. Consequently, Berry has a great attachment to the piece.
Berry served on the faculty of Randolph-Macon College in Virginia, as chair of the Department of the Arts for over 15 years. He inspired a new generation of artists. A student who studied with Berry, credits his now famous work ethic to his former teacher. “Berry taught his students to think of art as blue-collar work. ‘Sometimes you don’t feel inspired and painting feels just like digging ditches. I understand that’s part of the creative process, so I force myself to get inspired. Highway workers don’t tell their boss they don’t feel like paving a road today. If those guys can work in 100 degree heat, we sure as hell can get to an easel.'”