Q: What has VAE done for you as an artist?
LW: "I first wandered into VAE in about 2000 when a painter friend John Gaitenby had a piece in a show there. I had painted as a teenager, and then abandoned art for a career that pleased the family, paid the bills, and allowed me to do some purposeful work for the environment. But art kept calling and in 2002 I started painting again, entered some works at a VAE show in about 2003 and actually got 2 accepted and one sold. I thought I had this art thing figured out – NOT! Then Sarah Powers became Executive Director of VAE, and the place evolved exponentially, moved to Martin Street, and has become a shining light for the Triangle art community. As Brandon Cordrey has assumed leadership of VAE, it continues to nurture emerging artists and develop cutting edge shows that transcend just paintings, pottery, and sculpture. At VAE my works get an occasional award and also get declined for shows - it comes with the territory, and you just have to keep on painting. VAE has been a continuing catalyst for my development as a painter. Between the exhibition opportunities, seminars, critique sessions, plein air group, Ignite, SparkCon, and so much more, it has allowed so many of us to transcend our self-imposed limitations."

We are thrilled to present the featured artwork for our 2017 gala, "Warehouse District, 3:58pm" by Lori White! This stunning oil painting will be available in this year's live auction on February 25th and depicts a quiet late afternoon in downtown Raleigh's Warehouse District.

Q: You've donated to VAE's auction for many years. Why do you think it's important to do so?
LW: "I've always been happy to donate art for great causes. I've supported other organizations over the years, including the Alliance for AIDS Services and the Compass Center, but giving back to VAE is great. I like it that my work supports the development of other artists at VAE. Your auctions are fun, high energy events, where artists put their works (and hearts and souls) out there for all to see and bid on.

Q: What is your favorite piece of art that you own?
LW "I have a small snowscape by one of my favorite artists, Frank Serrano. It's a small plein air piece I bought in Colorado Springs when I was out there for a painting workshop. I've collected other small plein air works by Frank since, but the first one is still something special. Artists collecting other artists is very common and very cool."

Q: If you could go back in time to when you were just starting out, what one piece of advice would give yourself?
LW: "Just shut up and paint. And study, and get critiqued, and buy the best art materials you can afford, and be kind to everyone."

Q: What's coming up for you in 2017?
LW: "I have shows in February at Village Art Circle in Cary, May at Crook's Corner in Chapel Hill (one of my very favorite restaurants), and June at Clayton Visual Arts. AND, starting January 2 I will be painting full-time - and can't wait! The Universe has been very kind."