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Published Sat, Oct 20, 2012 08:00 PM
Modified Sat, Oct 20, 2012 11:15 AM

Clayton Center show spotlights women artists

"Marina Port Vell" by Heidi Lee Peach
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Two women artists, one from Clayton and one from Goldsboro, have followed different paths, but each managed to keep their eyes on their art aspirations while working and later raising two children each.

Heidi-Lee Peach of Clayton and Toni Murgas of Goldsboro are the artists who will exhibit their work at the Clayton Center in November. The show, which is free and open to the public, opens Nov. 1 and remains at the center until Dec. 3. The center is open Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

A free, meet-the-artists reception for Peach and Murgas is 6-7:30 p.m. Nov. 8 in the lobby of The Clayton Center, 111 E. Second St.

Both the reception and exhibition are sponsored by Clayton Visual Arts, Inc.

Peach was drawn to art by her father, an oils painter who produced most of his work in the 25 years after his retirement.

“He was a superior oil painter,” she said, “and I worked with him while I was young.”

Peach says she likes to try new approaches to art, delves into untouched avenues of technique that are not taught, but self-learned.

She works in several media, including watercolor, acrylics and photography.

“My watercolors are hard to part with,” she said, “but it seems the acrylics I can let go and sell.” She thinks it’s because “they were easier to produce...less drying time and not so many hours involved.”

She has won several awards for her photography, including a Judge’s Choice Award at the 2011 Clayton Art Faire.

Peach has worked in the design field for most of her adult life.

“If it encompassed interior, exterior, landscape, lighting, commercial or residential design, that was me,” she said.

Starting out, she was a commercial interior designer and space planner for a major corporation in Baltimore for 10 years. The company was also a Herman Miller dealer, specializing in modernist furniture.

Later she worked for two years in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., as a commercial sales/designer for a Knoll dealer (modernist furniture).

In addition to painting and photography, she is a Johnston County Master Gardener, a professional ASID member, and a 13-year cancer survivor.

She is married and the mother of two teenagers. The family moved to Clayton in 2008.

Peach holds a bachelor’s of fine arts from Maryland Institute College of Art, in her hometown, Baltimore.

She has created three part-time businesses of her own, the latest being HL Peach Designs, which encompasses all aspects of her art, photography, and interior design skills. She is also a member of Clayton Visual Arts.

Fun and whimsy

After graduating from Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos with a bachelor of fine arts degree, Murgas worked in banking for 10 years.

Murgas said, “I feel I have been an artist all my life—that this is what I was born to do.”

But, Like most of us, I have had to work while at the same time pursuing my love for art,” she says.

She paints with acrylics and watercolor but uses other media, too, like colored pencils, pen and ink and various pencil media.

Most of her artwork is fantasy and whimsical. The subject matter varies, but most deal with mermaids.

“When I create an art piece, I just let the creative side of me take over,” she said. “I feel art is an expression of what the artist sees and what they experience in their lives, and these expressions are put down in the art work.”

Murgas was born in Lockhart Texas, just southeast of Austin, and was the youngest daughter of eight children.

She is married, and her husband is retired from the Air Force. His duties have taken them from Texas to California, where their two children were born, and finally to North Carolina in 2000, where he was stationed at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro.

Murgas opened her art studio, called Mermaids-N-More, in Goldsboro in 2010.

Among her favorite artist-inspirations are Gustav Klimt, Alphonse Mucha, William Waterhouse, Georgia O’Keeffe and Frida Kahlo.

She is a member of Clayton Visual Arts, the Wayne Arts Council of Goldsboro, the Edgecombe Arts Council in Tarboro, and has exhibited at Eye of the Eagle Gallery in Clayton.

She won first, second and third place ribbons at the Wayne Agricultural Fair this year and in 2011.

Her website is mermaids-n-more.webs.com. She is also on Facebook, Myspace and Twitter.

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