Photo Gallery | Sacred art on display in Salisbury now, available to churches in the Carolinas
SALISBURY - A display of spiritual art created by well known, Salisbury based artist, the late Robert Doares, is now on display at St. John's Lutheran Church in Salisbury.
This story includes a number of random pictures from the display, but to really be appreciated, the work should be seen in person.
To write about the display, and the incredible career of Doares, WBTV turned to Dr. Dale Steele. Steele is a native of Charlotte, graduate of Wake Forest and Southeastern Baptist Seminary. He served FBC in Burlington for 22 years, retired from Penelope Baptist Church in Hickory in 1998 and served Interim pastorates at High Point, Salisbury at First Baptist Church, Reidsville, Greensboro, and now at Northside Baptist Church in Burlington.
Steele and wife Doris have two daughters and three grandchildren.
Steele was good friends with Doares and followed his career closely, and on that note, provided his thoughts to WBTV:I remember that Sunday in the Spring of 2000. Bob and Kay Doares asked us to come home with them for Sunday lunch. I had been the Interim Pastor of their church, First Baptist of Salisbury for less than a month. Doris and I were warmly welcomed into their apartment, and we quickly noticed the paintings on their walls. That was when we discovered Robert Doares the artist. For the next twenty-two months I was their Pastor and friend, and for three years beyond that Doris and I were their friends. I consider Robert Doares one of North Carolina's finest artists and best kept secrets. Let me tell you about my friend. Bob was born in Maxton, NC in March of 1911. His teachers discovered what he could do with a piece of chalk and a blackboard. In his school room there were always beautiful drawings for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Bob knew he wanted to be an artist. When he graduated from high school in the Spring of 1929 he bought a bus ticket to New York, and with twenty-five dollars in his pocket he was on his way. He found work in a cafe on Times Square and later at Wannamaker's Department Store. The Stock Market crashed in October of 1929. People often asked Bob how hard it was to live in New York during the Great Depression. Bob replied that he had been poor all of his life and he really didn't notice any change. In 1940 Bob enrolled in the Grand Central School of Art to study with Harvey Dunn, one of America's premier illustrators. In less than a year Mr. Dunn called Bob aside and said he was wasting his time there. He told Bob that he was really good, and he ought to be using his skills and talents in art. Bob remembered that Harvey Dunn was the first person to tell him he was really good as an artist. That encouragement from a great teacher was all Bob needed. Bob illustrated books for Harper's and Doubleday. He did magazine covers for Outdoor Life and Boy's Life. He illustrated a series of children's books by Jill St. John as well as children's books by Margaret Epp. Kenneth Taylor's books Stories for the Children's Hour contained illustrations by Bob Doares. During WW II Bob served in the Army as an Illustrator for medical training materials. One of the best known books that Bob illustrated is Phillip Keller's book, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, which is still in print. He turned to Fine Art and had paintings shown at the Coliseum in New York, the New Jersey Master's Show at the Heritage Gallery, and dozens of smaller art shows and private galleries. And then, Robert Doares' life took a totally new turn. In the Summer of 1953 at the age of 42 Bob had a profound experience with the Lord. He said, "I didn't hear any voices or see visions, but something in my mind took over. I began to realize that I owed so much to God that I wanted to spend my life serving Him. It just began to grow in my mind that God is awesome in a way that delighted me!" This revelation of the love of God, actually knowing that God loved him, filled Bob through and through. In time he determined that he would find a way to thank the Lord for His love and for the absolute assurance of that love. The answer soon came. He would paint the life of Christ. That project would occupy more than thirty years of his life and would ultimately bring him and Kay to Salisbury in 1973. When those paintings were complete, Bob had his gift of gratitude to the Lord which he literally gave to the Lord. There are fifty-four paintings. Five of them are in oil and forty-nine in graphite, 15 by 48 inches, panoramic in size and in a style that Bob called photorealism. Bob sought for clarity as well as a way to draw the viewer into the picture. The oil paintings required six hundred hours each and the graphite drawings required three hundred hours each to complete. Bob was determined to be a documentarian as well as an artist. He wanted the paintings to be historically accurate, theologically correct, and still to be the expression of an artist. He went to the Holy Land four times, searched every piece of resource material that offered help, and prayed over each piece of art. Dr. Leighton Ford saw the paintings and recommended that they be displayed at the Billy Graham Center on the Campus of Wheaton College in Illinois. Dr. Lane Dennis, President of Crossway Books, saw them and wanted to publish them in book form. In 1994 the book, Immanuel, God With Us: The Life of Christ in Art, was published. In 1996 it was awarded the Gold Medallion for excellence in evangelical Christian literature by the Evangelical Christian Publisher's Association. It is now in its second printing and offers the reader not only each of the fifty-four paintings but also the text that accompanies them, all of that by Robert Doares. Robert continued to paint. His project after moving to North Carolina with Kay in 1973 was to travel over North Carolina with their camera photographing hundreds of scenes from the mountains to the coast. The result was another series of paintings entitled The Millennial Series. They would be panoramic and very detailed, but slightly smaller. These North Carolina scenes would be 12 x 48 and would depict Bob's idea of what the world would look like during the Millennium, the thousand years of Jesus' reign on the earth. Many of them are now on display as a part of the Robert Doares Art Collection at the Museum in Maxton, NC, Robert's birthplace. In March of 2005, Bob suffered a stroke and died. Kay died a year later in August of 2006. Crossway Books, the owner of the original fifty-four paintings of the life of Christ agreed to allow them to be shown whenever and wherever arrangements could be made. Dale and Doris Steele have permission to host these beautiful paintings and to discuss the life and faith of Robert Doares. Over the last six years these paintings have been shown at such places as Hickory Grove United Methodist Church in Charlotte, First Baptist Church in Laurinburg, Trinity Baptist Church in Raleigh, First Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, Wingate University, Gardner-Webb University, Gordon-Conwell College, North Carolina Baptist Childrens' Home in Thomasville, and the WaterWorks Visual Arts Center in Salisbury. The fifty-four paintings are now on display at St. John's Lutheran Church, 200 West Innes Street in Salisbury, NC. Call the church for an appointment to bring a group to see the paintings. It will be an experience you will never forget. Also, look at the website, RobertDoaresArt.Com to see other paintings and to order the book. However you choose to view Bob's work, remember that he intended for them to to be an expression of his faith and gratitude to the Lord. From the beginning these paintings were given to the Lord. When asked about them, Bob always answered, "..well, these paintings aren't mine, they belong to the Lord." Yes, Robert Doares is one of North Carolina's finest artists and best kept secrets. But you can see for yourself these original paintings that express the faith of a friend and a truly great artist. And if you would like more information about having the paintings at your church or school, contact Dale or Doris Steele at 336-585-0049 or firstname.lastname@example.org.