The Fresco Team
Christopher Holt, Principal Artist
Christopher Holt was born in Asheville, NC in 1977. Raised in the mountains of Haywood County, his exposure to the natural beauty of WNC informs his artistry. Chris grew up drawing and painting, eventually finding his way to the art department at UNC-Chapel Hill. There, his attention was captured by the Native American Artist Kimowan Metchewais and he learned much about the creative process as well as storytelling through art. After Chapel Hill, his travel lust took him to Central and South America, where he was exposed to ancient sites including Copan in Honduras and Chichenitza in Mexico. He also discovered the fresco paintings of Diego Rivera.
Upon returning to Asheville in 2003, Christopher’s path crossed with the legendary artist Benjamin Franklin Long IV, who was founding a school in the mountains dedicated to the study of drawing and painting. Christopher quickly became a devoted student at the Fine Arts League of the Carolinas. Over time he became an integral part of the school as well as Long’s fresco work. After a decade of working with Long, Holt established his own studio in Asheville,
Chris has continued traveling, painting and finding inspiration abroad, always returning to NC to show his work and teach, often working with students in the Asheville City Schools. His recent travels have taken him to Cairo, Egypt and the Dominican Republic where he facilitated the painting of two large murals in a small village where children of Haitian decent worked alongside Dominican children to complete pictures of peace and community in a country caught up in racial injustice.
Last year, he visited Jamaica, Cuba, and returned for another trip to the Dominican Republic to work with the children of Saman. He is currently working on a project for the Order of Saint John with fellow Charleston artist, Jill Hooper, to paint a fresco in Jerusalem. He is also creating gallery pictures for Horton & Hayes Fine Art in Charleston, SC, and has begun the drawing for what will become a fresco for Haywood Street Congregation in Asheville, NC.
A classical realist who lives and works in Asheville, NC, Caleb Clark was educated in the art of buon fresco at the Fine Arts League of the Carolinas. Following an apprenticeship with Benjamin F. Long. Caleb has worked as a member of multiple fresco crews. He has assisted Ben Long, Roger Nelson and Christopher Holt in creating frescoes throughout the Carolinas.
Jill Hooper is from North Carolina and New York. She worked under D. Jeffrey Mims for an extended period in North Carolina as well as in Florence, Italy, studying still life, portraiture, and the figure. She also studied at Universite de Haute Bretagne in Rennes, France where she learned printmaking. Hooper studied portraiture with a focus on the sight-size traditions with Charles Cecil in Florence. In 2006, she participated in the apprentice program under Benjamin Long IV at the Fine Arts League of the Carolinas, and assisted Long with the Crossnore fresco in mountains of North Carolina.
John R. Dempsey III
John Dempsey was raised in Charleston, SC. He received a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1993-1998, and then attended the Florence Academy of Art, 1995-1996.
John was a Student/Teacher at the Fine Arts League of the Carolinas from 2002-2006, then became a full time teacher of Drawing and Painting at the school from 2007-2012. He has assisted Ben Long on numerous frescos. He has lived and worked in Asheville for the last eighteen years.
Italian Renaissance art has always been the strongest influence on Dempsey’s work. He maintains a studio in the River Arts District where he works on oil paintings, drawings, and etchings.
The Haywood Street Fresco Steering Committee is a group of individuals dedicated to making the Haywood Street Fresco vision a reality.
Pam Siekman, Chair
Brook van der Linde