For Immediate Release
May 14, 2015

Michael Verville
Program Coordinator
Alliance for Historic Hillsborough 

Hillsborough, N.C. – The Hillsborough Visitors Center will host its first ever art show, an exhibit of folk art by local artist Sam Ezell, from May 22 to July 23. “Picture Hillsborough” is a collection of Ezell’s paintings of Hillsborough’s historic buildings, as well as examples of his miniature buildings that serve as birdhouses. On Friday, May 29, Mike’s Art Truck and the Alliance for Historic Hillsborough will host a reception with Sam Ezell from 6 to 8 pm during the Last Fridays Art Walk. “Picture Hillsborough” offers a unique artist’s view of his hometown. The exhibit will bring enjoyment to fans of folk art, students of history and supporters of Hillsborough.

The artist Sam Ezell is a lifelong resident of Hillsborough where he works full-time at the Daniel Boone Village shopping center. He has a little shop/studio there that you can easily spot by the large elaborate birdhouses out in front. Like many other self-taught artists, he paints in his spare time.

Ezell never considered himself an artist and never intended to become one until he paid a visit to artist Bernice Sims down in Brewton, AL. The two hit it off right away & Ezell promised to lend a hand with whatever Sims needed. At the end of the visit she directed him to “go home & paint me a picture.” Ezell protested that he didn’t know how to paint, but there was no way to turn down her request. So he gave it a try and found himself having a good time doing it. He developed a close relationship with his friend and mentor, which he maintained until Sims passed away in 2014.

The show at the Hillsborough Visitors Center features a series of portraits of the town’s historic buildings painted by Sam Ezell. A few months ago, owners of Mike’s Art Truck, Greg and Karen Mack, asked Ezell if he would make a painting of the Old Orange County Courthouse. In no time, the artist had completed that painting – along with paintings of 14 other buildings! There was no doubt that Ezell should be a focus of the local show they were preparing at the time.

The show had its debut at the Orange County Main Library in January 2015 and the Macks are excited to be bringing these paintings to the Hillsborough Visitors Center in May 2015. The buildings portrayed range from the obvious, such as The Burwell School, to the relatively obscure, such as Latta Brothers Tractor Service. The subjects were all chosen by the artist. A clue is installed alongside each painting in the show, so that visitors can try their hands at identifying the locations. There is an address list for visitors who want to find the locations, though many of the structures are private residences and are not open to visitors. Images of the paintings are available on note cards sold in packs of five that are available at the Visitors Center

Several of Sam Ezell’s fantastic birdhouses will also be on exhibit at the Visitors Center for the duration of the “Picture Hillsborough” show. The multi-chambered miniature buildings are folk art style versions of houses and churches. When they are not in demand by birds, Ezell’s birdhouses are very popular at art shows and charity fundraisers.

Paintings and birdhouses are available for purchase directly from Mike’s Art Truck. Purchased artwork can be picked up at the conclusion of the show. Contact Mike’s Art Truck for sales information by email at or by phone at 678-345-2778.

The Hillsborough Visitors Center is located in the Alexander Dickson House at 150 E. King Street. Call (919) 732-7741 for more information or visit


Folk Art Show at Hillsborough Visitors Center
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