Current Exhibitions

Images © Matthew Diffee


The Cartoons and other Art of Matthew Diffee

March 3 through July 8, 2018
Coe Gallery

Matthew Diffee was a painter first, of landscapes and abstractions, but then he became a cartoonist for The New Yorker Magazine. He kept painting but no one ever saw that work until now (unless you came to his house for some reason and looked under the bed). In ONE MAN GROUP SHOW, Diffee shares his best cartoon art and the other art he’s been doing for the past twenty years.

Far from cartoony, Diffee’s cartoons stand out for their draftsmanship and aesthetic design. His single panel black and white cartoons appear in The New Yorker magazine. He also does long-form cartooning for Texas Monthly and Esquire, as well as illustrations for bluegrass bands like Punch Brothers and books by Stephen King.

ONE MAN GROUP SHOW includes the original drawings for the cartoons and illustrations that have graced your coffee table and night stand. And for the first time, Diffee will exhibit his more traditional artistic endeavors: realist landscapes, abstract paintings, and collages.

Sponsored by:
George Clay III, DDS -- Family & Cosmetic Dentistry

United Arts Council of Catawba County

This project was supported by the United Arts Council of Catawba County through the North Carolina Arts Council, with funding from the State of North Carolina and the National Endowment of the Arts.


May 5 - July 15, 2018
Shuford, localHMA & Entrance Galleries

After furthering his education and art career in Savannah and New York, Paul Hunter Speagle returns to his native Hickory to pay homage to the landscape and culture he loves. Speagle will create an immersive environment where visitors can step into a landscape painting, complete with sounds of nature and smells of moss and apples. The installation will also include a selection of alla prima paintings (a wet into wet technique of oil painting done in one sitting) of his beloved Grandfather Mountain. Using giant functional crayons that Speagle engineers, visitors will be able to color pages in a mammoth coloring book of North Carolina mountains designed by the artist.

Opening Reception
Friday, May 18, 6 - 8 PM

Meet artist Paul Hunter Speagle and view the exhibition that pays homage to the local landscape he loves. Enjoy some Southern nibbles and drinks provided by Windy City Grill and Seventeen Twelve Southern Spirits. Plus, be the first to try your hand at the interactive elements that will debut at the party ...picture giant functional encaustic crayons that you will use to draw on a gigantic coloring book and coloring images!

Sponsored by:
Pepsi Cola Bottling Co., Hickory
Margie Owsley

The Friends of Hunter Speagle

Supported by a grant from the United Arts Council of Catawba County


 Paul Whitener (1911-1959),  Big Lynn , casein on board, Bequest of Mildred Whitener Coe, 2008.15.5

Paul Whitener (1911-1959), Big Lynn, casein on board, Bequest of Mildred Whitener Coe, 2008.15.5


Embracing a New Form:
Paul Whitener's Later Works 

January 27 - June 24, 2018
Whitener Gallery

Hickory Museum of Art founder and first director Paul Whitener was an accomplished portrait artist and landscape painter. A surgery to partially remove a brain tumor left his right side paralyzed. In order to continue painting, Paul had to train himself to use his left hand. In these later works, Whitener developed a looser, more abstract style. He transitioned into his new style with the use of cato ink and casein paint. This exhibition includes these mediums as well as some finished and unfinished oil paintings.

Paul Whitener’s niece Julie Cline observes, “In these more abstract paintings, there are sometimes hints of inclinations that were shown in previous sketches or underpaintings. As his imagination changed his perception, he began to embrace his new form. He told my mother, Frances Whitener Cline (later Dunham), during this period near the end of his life, ‘I believe that I am just now learning how to paint.’”

Support provided by the Kenneth K. Millholland & Suzanne G. Millholland Endowment Fund, a component fund of the North Carolina Community Foundation


April 21 - July 1, 2018
Windows Gallery

This exhibition features the 19 winning photos from the Catawba Valley Camera Club's Year-End Competition. 


 Photo by Sherrie Wells

Photo by Sherrie Wells

Discover FOlk Art:
Unique Visions by Southern Contemporary folk Artists

Entire Third Floor

Hickory Museum of Art recently expanded their Southern Contemporary Folk Art Collection and Exhibition space. A new, hands-on exhibition was installed on the Museum's 3rd floor Mezzanine Gallery.

The Interactive Exhibition Features:

         • Re-creations of Artists’ Working Environments
         • Touch Screens
         • Over 200 Folk Art Objects
         • Sounds & Smells
         • Family Activity Stations
         • and More!                                

Free Family Guides for the exhibition are available at the Museum’s check-in desk in the first floor HMA Galleria. Copies of the children’s book, Discover Folk Art: An Adventure with Artie at the Hickory Museum of Art, are also available in the Galleria for $9.95. In the book, Artie (HMA’s art-loving mascot) takes a group of children on a tour of the galleries and introduces them to work by several folk artists including Sam “The Dot Man” McMillan and Q.J. Stephenson.

 Robert Levin,  Untitled,  1990, glass, Gift of Sonia & Isaac Luski, 2002.1.8

Robert Levin, Untitled, 1990, glass, Gift of Sonia & Isaac Luski, 2002.1.8

 Sam Passantino,  Lion , wood and paint, Gift of the Children of Sam Passantino, 2016.22.a

Sam Passantino, Lion, wood and paint, Gift of the Children of Sam Passantino, 2016.22.a

Glass From the Museum's Collection

Objects Gallery

This exhibition features glass works given to the Museum by Sonia and Isaac Luski, and Rose and Abraham Luski. Several styles of glass blowing are demonstrated, and the show features artists with connections to the prestigious Penland School of Crafts nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.


from the Sam Passantino Collection

Through June 24, 2018
Objects Gallery

This exhibition features 30 animal sculptures by folk artist Sam Passantino. Young visitors will delight in seeing the artist's frogs, birds, turtle, lion, fish, giraffes and more.