Just as Snow Hill was embarking on its downtown revitalization plan in November of 2003, Snow Hill native Ann Coates was planning an arts revitalization with the debut of Bishop’s Stock, a wine store and art gallery. From machine shop in the 1890’s to car dealership in the 30’s to a newspaper office three decades later, the building changed hands and eventually became available. Ann welcomed the opportunity to “bring something new to the town while offering a nice venue for the talented artists we have in the area.” Ann’s husband, Randy Coates, is also nearby to lend a hand, as his law firm Coates, Coates, and Coates, is next door to the gallery.

The gallery changes artwork every month (except January) and has an opening reception on the first Friday of every month to kick off the new exhibits. Just a few months after opening, Ann started their inaugural Paint Snow Hill, held annually on the third weekend in April. The non-competitive plein air event is sponsored and organized by Bishop’s Stock, and brings large crowds to the area each year—this year, registration of 70 artists filled in only 8 hours! The weekend includes a wine reception and picnic and features both local and out of town artists. A wet paint sale sponsored by the Arts and Entertainment District Management concludes the weekend and was recently added in 2009 because of the growth in participation and quantity of work.

Ann and Randy have always enjoyed visiting galleries in their travels and bring that inspiration back to Snow Hill. “A gallery featuring local talent seemed like a good way to encourage more interest in the arts,” explained Ann. “We are very fortunate to have very talented artists living among us and very proud to have sold a considerable amount of their work. For many, we offered an opportunity they did not have…I take jewelry, fiber, wood, glass, sculpture, and ceramics on consignment just as I do paintings.” Another brilliant addition to the gallery was the sale of wines from all over the world. The goal is to carry more unique wines to introduce people to quality wines from other regions. Prices range from a very affordable $11 to $18 per bottle. Bishop’s Stock also offers a wine club as unique opportunity for expanding each members’ knowledge of wine. Each month, Ann hand-selects a featured red and featured white, which are then available for tasting at the First Friday receptions. “We say we curate our wines just as we curate our art.”

But there’s no stopping there. “I am always looking for new ways to make a visit to the gallery more interesting,” Ann muses. “Last summer I started an ‘Artist in Residence’ feature. The third weekend of each month one of our artists mans the gallery Saturday and Sunday. This gives them a chance to meet the patrons who admire their work. Some artists have brought their easels and some have offered classes.” Best of all, this arrangement gives her one weekend a month off. Ann laughs, “this is a treat after working weekends for 9 ½ years!”

For more on Bishop’s Stock, stop in the gallery in Snow Hill or visit their website.

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