Artists’ Portrait Finds A Permanent Home in Greenville Museum of Art

Allen Weiss’ photographic portrait of Frances Speight and Sarah Blakeslee is donated.

June 12, 2011 (Raleigh, NC) – The 1988 black and white portrait of legendary North

1988 portrait of Sarah Blakeslee and Frances Speight by Allen Weiss has been doated to the Greenville NC Museum of Art.

Carolina artists Frances Speight and Sarah Blakeslee by Allen Weiss has been donated to the Greenville Museum of Art to accompany the permanent gallery there honoring the couple, who lived in Greenville.

The portrait was part of a recent exhibition at Lee Hansley Gallery in Raleigh entitled, “Black & White, Color & Light: Photographs by Allen Weiss and Works by His Subjects.” The exhibition included Weiss’ portraits of 11 of North Carolina’s premiere artists, first shown in 1988 when the collection was commissioned by Melissa Peden, a respected art patron and former gallery owner. All of three of the artists are deceased now, including Speight and Blakeslee.

Marion Johnson Church of Raleigh purchased the Speight and Blakeslee portrait and donated it to the Greenville Museum of Art in honor of her grandson, John Church Bacon, who is retiring from the Museum’s Board of Trustees.

“The gift honors his service to the museum,” said gallery owner Lee Hansley who arranged the sale. Hansley’s gallery hosted the exhibition from March 13 through April 30th originally, then extended it for two more weeks.

Weiss, principal of Allen Weiss: Works on Film & Paper in Raleigh, was delighted to hear about the donation.

“It is always gratifying when someone thinks enough of your work to buy it,” he said. “As someone who has exhibited with other photographers who have work in art institutions, I’ll admit I’ve always been a bit jealous. It means the world to me to know my work is finally in the permanent collection of a museum.”

Lee Hansley Gallery also arranged the sale of six portraits from the show to Johnson Development Associates, Inc. of Spartanburg, SC, to add to the company’s extensive collection of art by Southern artists.

To see the complete collection of Weiss’ black and white portraits of North Carolina artists, go to and click on “Projects & Series.”

For more information on Allen Weiss: Works on Film & Paper, visit

For more information on the Greenville Museum of Art, go to For more information on Lee Hansley Gallery, visit

About Frances Speight and Sarah Blakeslee:

From the Greenville Museum of Art:  “Francis Speight and his wife Sarah Blakeslee are two of the most important artists who lived and worked in North Carolina during the 20th century… Speight taught painting and drawing at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts from 1925 until 1961. In 1936 he married Blakeslee, who had been one of his students at the academy’s Country School at Chester Springs, Pennsylvania. In 1961 they moved to Greenville, North Carolina, where Francis became the artist-in-residence at East Carolina College. Sarah painted and taught adult classes at local art centers.”

About Allen Weiss:

After 15 years as a professional photographer in Raleigh and New York, Allen Weiss turned his attention towards short films, public service announcements and television commercials, both regionally and internationally. Recently, he launched Allen Weiss: Works on Film & Paper to offer still photography of all varieties, film and video (director, DP, cameraman), and freelance writing/branding. For more information visit

Lee Hansley Gallery Presents “Black & White/Color & Light: Photographs by Allen Weiss and Works by His Subjects”

George Bireline 1988 © Allen Weiss

(RALEIGH, NC) – Joe Cox, George Bireline, Herb Jackson, and Edith London are only four of the 11 prominent North Carolina artists, both living and deceased, whose portraits and works will be featured in a special exhibition at Lee Hansley Gallery in Raleigh beginning March 13.


Entitled “Black & White/Color & Light,” the exhibition will include black and white photographic portraits of well-known artists by Allen Weiss, alongside examples of their work. The featured artists are: Edith London, Ted Potter, Herb Jackson, Joe Cox, George Bireline, Harvey Littleton, Maud Gatewood, Claud Howell, Robert Irwin, Francis Speight, and Sarah Blakeslee.


The genesis for the show began 23 years ago when Weiss returned to his native Raleigh

Sarah Blakesless and Francis Speight 1988 © Allen Weiss

after living in New York City for five years. Melissa Peden, a respected art patron and art gallery owner, suggested that he photograph “living legends of the art world in North Carolina,” he recalled.


Over two decades later, gallery owner Lee Hansley was made aware of the Weiss portraits and decided to show this body of work, which has taken on added historical importance since nine of the 11 artists are no longer living.


“This is going to be a nostalgic exhibition. These portraits capture the essence of these artists and we shall reinforce that with examples of their work,” said Hansley. “It is going to be a trip down North Carolina’s artistic memory lane.”


Hansley noted that the “black and white” from the show title refers to Weiss’ large-

Ted Potter 1988 © Allen Weiss

format, black and white images of the artists in their respective environments. “Color and light” makes reference to the works of art to be displayed in concert with the portraits.


According to Weiss, major advances in printing from original negatives have introduced a visual depth to his artists’ portraits that wasn’t possible when he shot them 23 years ago. “Simply put, I’m seeing details in these prints that I never imagined could be pulled from negatives.”


Weiss worked in Raleigh and New York as a professional photographer for about 15 years, including studying under and working for world-renowned photographer Arnold Newman. In the early ‘90s, Weiss’ career veered into directing and shooting television commercials throughout the US, Canada and Europe. Inspired by the opportunity to exhibit his photography again, he has made the decision to “put still photography back in the mix” of his career.


The opening reception for “Black & White/Color Light” will be held Sunday, March 13, from 2-5 p.m. Lee Hansley Gallery is located at 225 Glenwood Avenue, Raleigh, NC 27603. The exhibition will run through April 30.  For more information contact the gallery at 919.828.7557.


For more information on Allen Weiss, visit