We feature a variety of work from local and regionally known artists at the Wilson Arts Center, rotating work approximately every two months with opening receptions held on Thursday evenings from 6:00-8:00 p.m. Visiting artist lectures take place at 5:30 p.m., just prior to the opening reception.  All gallery exhibits and artist receptions are free and open to the public!

Gallery Shop

Visit our Gallery Shop at the Wilson Arts Center, 204 Nash Street South, featuring a variety of handmade and one-of-a-kind treasures from local and regional artists!


Miniature Masterpieces: A Fun Night for a Great Cause!

Thursday, May 16, 6:00-8:00 PM

Tickets: $50

Hang on to your hats and loosen up your wallets to join us for one of our favorite annual events! This beloved fundraiser continues to grow and this year, we have stretched our creative net to include 3D works into the mini-masterpiece mix. For the first time ever, Miniature Masterpieces will take over the gallery two weeks ahead, May 2 to be exact, for everyone to have an opportunity to enjoy seeing the work of local artists. But the real fun will still be our event night and fundraiser on Thursday, May 16 where luck of the draw (or grand negotiation skills) determine what tiny treasure travels home with you!

Tickets will go on sale to current members beginning April 1, and to the public April 15. This one is always a sell-out, so if you’d like to attend, be sure to reserve your tickets!

The ticket price of $50 includes a fun, festive evening of scrumptious hors d’oeuvres and desserts, nonalcoholic drinks, and an original 8”x 8” miniature masterpiece of your very own to take home.

Once you’ve claimed your mini-masterpiece, you can stop by our one-stop framing station, where you can have your masterpiece professionally framed and ready to hang! All proceeds go towards funding education programming for the year, and all original artworks are generously donated by local and regional artists.

All participating artists that have donated a masterpiece this year are invited to attend the second half of the event, just be sure to give us a call to RSVP, ASAP!

You can call us at (252) 291-4329, visit us at the Wilson Arts Center, or purchase tickets online using the button beginning April 1 for 2024 members and April 15 for the general public.

If you or your business would like to become a sponsor for this delightful fundraising event, please contact Dee Dee Oliver, Visual Arts Coordinator, at (252) 291-4329 or deedee@wilsonarts.com


May 30 - June 27
Opening Reception: Thursday, May 30 / 6:00-8:00 PM
Wilson Arts Center / 204 Nash Street S
Sponsored by: Wilson Arts Visual Arts Committee

“Frans van Baars – Painting Journey: Awakens Memories,” exhibition will feature a selection of land and seascapes, Whirligigs, community events, still life, and abstracts. It embodies a series on Wilson and our county in addition to his travels to other parts of North Carolina as well as, South Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, the Netherlands and more.

His early art is detailed in exquisite draftsmanship and masterful watercolors the latter of which he turned into a series of Watercolor Memories. “As I got older, I got bolder. Drafting and drawing helped me become loose, and more abstract over time. It was as though I was liberated and free,” he says of the use of oils and acrylics. His composition or subject matter is usually not contrived or constrained. Oftentimes he works in plein air as it allows him to capture the spirit and form of the place while on location. It’s there that he enjoys, “Painting what I see, the life before me,” he said. It’s the beauty he seeks when composing each piece of art and an integral part of his work spanning over forty years.

This solo exhibition celebrating van Baars’s travels and love for Wilson opens on Thursday, May 30 with a reception from 6:00-8:00pm. The show will feature watercolor, pen and ink, oil, and acrylic works and free and open to the public!

Artist Bio

Frans van Baars is a Dutch American artist from the Netherlands. His father was a merchant marine captain. His mother was the daughter of a fisherman. As a child, growing up in the Netherlands during WWII was difficult. It left him with an everlasting memory of hardship, destruction, and fear when his province was occupied by the Nazis. After the war was over, he took great reprieve while traveling the world on his father’s merchant ship. It was in those times where on occasion, they would stop and visit galleries and museums along their way.

In 1956, Frans arrived in the United States intended on giving back to the country who saved him as a child. It was the day before his nineteenth birthday. Not long afterwards, he enlisted in the Navy where he enjoyed his time in a submarine and at sea. A freak accident and a broken neck later changed his trajectory in life. He received a medical discharge, then chartered his way into the arts.

Frans studied art the Ivy School of Arts in Pittsburgh, PA after leaving the Navy. After college, he started an art program and was the art instructor at Coastal Carolina Community College in Jacksonville, NC. In 1980 and 1981 he participated series of classes with, Artist-in-the-Schools near the coast of NC, teaching art to students in the public-school setting. He went on to become a full-time. Frans’s artworks have been sold commercially and individually all over the world.

Frans and his wife, Brenda owned a gallery in Washington, NC for twelve years prior to moving to Wilson in 2002. The House of van Baars Gallery on Douglas Street is where they currently reside while also featuring a collection of his artworks. Throughout his life, he’s stayed true to what guides him. For over thirty years, he has participated in the Mile of Hope for children with cancer. Additionally, he took part in the East Carolina Telethon benefitting a children’s hospital, has given to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, and donated art that amassed a remarkable amount in fundraising for moving Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.


Upcoming Exhibitions

May 30 - June 27, 2024
Frans van Baars Solo Exhibition


"Artist talks for the Visual Arts Series are supported by grant funding from WILSON ROTARY CLUB"