Art is His Passion, Any Way You Frame It
By Bruce Boyer
“Paintings have become guideposts along my path through life, reminding me of where I have been and what I have learned.” – Richard Hedgecock
A stroll down Main Street in Kernersville starts with oil paintings on display through the windows of Hedgecock’s Framing Studio. Step inside and an entire wall of picture frames fills your field of vision. Located just one door north of the historic intersection of Main and Mountain, the studio has anchored Kernersville’s downtown business district for nearly 40 years.
Richard Hedgecock first took an art class his senior year at East Forsyth High School. The art teacher was a graduate of East Carolina University, planting a seed of where he could pursue a major in art. A multi-sport athlete, Richard was an outstanding baseball player, catching the attention of the baseball coach at ECU. The combination of an art curriculum with a baseball scholarship became a turning point in the educational path of Richard Hedgecock. He graduated with a BFA degree in art from ECU. During his first year of grad school Richard received a “congratulatory letter” from the Selective Service. The Vietnam War was in full swing but he had the good fortune to be stationed at an Air Force base in Germany. This proved to be a second turning point as he was given the opportunity to tour European historic sites and art museums–camera in hand– intensifying his interest in pursuing art for a living. After completing his military service he obtained a teaching certification from Winston-Salem State University. He taught high school art at North Forsyth High School and then for four years at his alma mater, East Forsyth High School. It was then he decided to open his own art studio.
While in Europe, he learned an important lesson that would frame his artistic career forever. The lesson was to paint the things he has actually experienced in his own life. That led him to become a storyteller through his paintings. He specialized in painting animals, candid portraits of people, Kernersville landmarks, and beautiful natural scenes. The love for animals is a “way of life” he shares with his beloved wife, Penny. Meeting Penny was another major turning point in his life. Love for animals sounds trite until you realize the number of dogs in their household is now down to 39, in addition to four horses, and other pets in the family. Appropriately, Richard’s memoir book is appropriately entitled After Five, What’s Another Dog? The book tells his life story through photographs narrated with the stories behind his most treasured artwork. He is anticipating a second pictorial book as he proudly sold all but three of the 900 books from the original printing.
Framing and the art studio are the two major components of his business. The walls on the framing side of the business display 2,000 samples of frames and 500 choices of matting. The studio is as good as any in the state, producing museum quality framing at a reasonable price with a quick turnaround time. The quality of workmanship is important. According to Richard, “Custom framing preserves the personality of the artist.” He has framed tobacco leaves, cotton, athletic uniforms, civil war muskets, and other memorabilia. One customer had him frame a collection of 50 coasters from beer halls she and her husband had visited around the world.
Step into the other side of the building and an art gallery portrays the loves of his life–animals, family, historic Kernersville, people, and the North Carolina countryside. Oil paintings are proudly displayed, but reproductions of his most popular works are also available. A special process used in the studio allows him to create “new originals” on any surface–canvas, paper, and other materials.
One of his most treasured creations is the Water Wagon image used by LeBleu water on their label. The original painting of that label was presented to President George H. W. Bush. Richard said, “If you give it to them, they will take anything!”
Hegdecock Framing Studio encompasses artwork from conception to the finished piece, including framing in a way that supports the story told by the artist.
There is a bright future for the business. Corby Eisbacher has worked side by side with Richard for the past 27 years, since Corby was a junior in high school. “Corby will do well. He is as good of a framer as anyone in the state and is a wonderful artist,” said Richard. The hope is to transfer the framing business to Corby and for Richard to maintain a presence in the art gallery. Richard still has about 50 original paintings on display and loves to informally visit with people as they browse the gallery. “After all, the core of art is in its storytelling.”
Hedgecock Framing Studio is located at 105 N. Main Street in Downtown Kernersville. Stop by the studio, call 336.996.5211, or visit RichardHedgecockArt.com to learn more.