Where Are They Now?: Ben Long

Ben Long

Ben Long, once the best-known artist in Charlotte, now lives and works in Asheville after spending time in Paris.

Chris Edwards

Ben Long lives in Asheville, has for about fifteen years. But lately, he's been on the road, driving to Chapel Hill once a week. The artist has an important commission, a portrait of University of North Carolina president Erskine Bowles.

Portraits have been a big part of Long's life as an artist. He's done Charlotteans Dick and Meredith Spangler and celebs such as Boz Scaggs and Danielle Steele. Novelist Reynolds Price wrote a poem about his experience sitting, "The Long translation of my long text."

But Long is best known for his frescoes—major works at Bank of America Corporate Center and Transamerica Square are among Charlotte's bestknown semipublic artworks—and that's what brought him to Asheville. Long got a commission for one in nearby Montreat. Traveling back and forth from Paris, where he lived, became expensive. He stayed after finishing the commission. "It just feels good," he says of Asheville. And, no small thing, three of his five sons live nearby. He also teaches at the Fine Arts League of the Carolinas, in Asheville.

When not on the road, Long, sixty-five, who recently had a show at the Greenville County Museum of Art in South Carolina, works with a model in his downtown studio. "It's enjoyable for the first time in a long time not to work toward a fresco but to stretch out and do your own work."


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