Johnson City artist's true colors on display

Nathan Baker • Oct 27, 2019 at 12:00 AM

This time of the year, a leisurely drive over the mountains can bring a vibrant pop of color.

Of course, the leaves are changing in the high country, but visitors to the Alta Vista Gallery in Valley Crucis, North Carolina, can see stunning landscapes from here in Johnson City.

From now until mid-December, more than 40 paintings by Monique Carr will be on display at the gallery, examples of her semi-abstract style.

Although Carr mostly paints landscapes and florals, they don’t depict real places and things. She produces them all from her imagination.

“Instead of painting what I see with my eyes, they’re more of an interpretation of what feel with my soul,” she said Thursday. “It gives my paintings an ethereal feeling, makes them more mysterious looking.”

In her work, Carr said she likes to use limited palettes. Over the course of several subsequent paintings, she uses similar colors to create a series.

To convey different textures and patterns, she rarely uses brushes. Instead, she experiments with paper towels, credit cards, scrapers, her fingers and scratches with her fingernails.

Carr also hides a signature exclamation point in each of her paintings, something to encourage viewers to explore every inch of her canvasses while looking for them.

The effects have won her several awards for art, most recently Best in Show from a juried exhibit in Jonesborough.

Though she’s lived here for 21 years, Carr hasn’t always called Johnson City home. She grew up in Montreal, Canada, then lived in the Cayman Islands for 10 years. That where she met her husband, Hank Carr, who is originally from the area. The couple moved to East Tennessee in 1999.

Carr still carries a noticeable accent bestowed on her by her predominantly French-speaking homeland.

She originally worked in graphic design, but 20 years ago made a turn toward her passion and became a full-time artist. She now paints and teaches workshops in her studio.

Her art has been featured in local, regional and national shows, including frequent displays at Alta Vista.

For more information about Carr, visit her website at moniquecarr.com. For information, including hours and the location of the Alta Vista Gallery, visit altavistagallery.com.