Take the large-scale work of 100 renowned photographers from two dozen countries, add empty downtown storefront windows, and you have the makings for the unusual outdoor exhibition that is drawing both locals and visitors to Nash Street in Wilson, N.C.
Jerome De Perlinghi, an internationally known photographer, settled in Wilson four years ago and almost immediately began taking photos of people downtown as a project. He conceived the idea of an exhibition/photo festival that interpreted main streets around the world.
“I contacted 10 photographers at first and it just spread from there,” he said. “Nash Street is our main street here in Wilson, but a main street can be anything from Sixth Avenue in New York to a dirt road in many countries.”
Each of the 100 photographers, equally divided among men and women, submitted one image for the exhibition.
Through Sept. 7, six city blocks of Wilson’s Nash Street will continue to be a vibrant gallery of large-scale photographs depicting people on main streets that are crowded, deserted, ravaged by poverty, and that celebrate a sense of community. It’s the global sense of community that main streets historically stood for that the exhibition’s organizers hope to revive.
De Perlinghi hopes the event is already helping to revitalize downtown Wilson.
“I live near downtown and walk my dog along Nash Street daily. I am meeting both locals and visitors who are drawn to these images.”
He noted that he’s met visitors from South Africa and California who were traveling by train and spent layovers walking through the downtown exhibition. (Wilson is accessible by Amtrak and is just off I-95.)
Exhibits of a different nature
One of Wilson’s favorite native sons, Vollis Simpson, was a highly regarded folk artist who constructed monumental scale whirligigs. The welded and painted structures revolve, spin, and reflect to create an amazing effect. A downtown Whirligig Park now contains 10 of Simpson’s restored creations, with a total of 31 expected when the restorations are completed. Simpson’s whirligigs can also be seen at museums or outdoor locations in Atlanta, Baltimore, California, New York, London, Canada, and Russia.
Wilson also offers three public gardens that make a summer visit enjoyable. The Wilson Rose Garden includes 1,100 rose plants ranging from historic garden varieties to modern hybrids, and it also features Simpson whirligigs. The public library rose garden contains 120 plants that bloom from mid-April until November. The city’s botanical garden includes a tree collection, as well as bird, butterfly, and display gardens. All of the gardens are free and open to the public.
For more information:
Wilson Tourism: wilson-nc.com