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Keith White debuts Oyster Festival print at unveiling

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By Stacey Manning, Managing Editor

Surrounded by cheering friends, family and local dignitaries, Brunswick Beacon graphic artist Keith White unveiled his most recent artwork last week.

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White, who is also the Beacon’s editorial cartoonist, has been selected as the official artist of the 32nd Annual North Carolina Oyster Festival. This is his fourth consecutive year for the honor.

Last Wednesday at the Museum of Coastal Carolina, White teamed up with the staff of the Brunswick County Chamber of Commerce to debut this year’s official print. It’s a scene close to White’s heart—he was raised here in Brunswick County and is an avid surfer.

To get the image just right, White and friends headed out on kayaks to explore the Intracoastal Waterway.

“This year I wanted to capture the oyster in its natural environment,” White explained, “how the oysters live above and below the waterline alongside of marsh inhabitants.”

In the background is the span of the Ocean Isle Beach bridge with two people harvesting oysters out of the marsh.

“That is absolutely beautiful,” Ocean Isle Beach commissioner D.B. Grantham said after the unveiling.

“You’re very talented,” Ocean Isle Beach commissioner Dean Walters added.

White said it is an honor to do the Oyster Festival print again this year.

In 2009, when he was first named official artist for the festival, White’s artwork was a cartoon that took a look at the festival through the eyes of an oyster. In that first print, oysters and people traded places in their real-life roles. Ozzy the Oyster has since become a mainstay at the festival, appearing on shirts and other artwork.

In 2010, White commemorated the 30th anniversary of the festival by depicting an oyster roast by the river with the old turn-style bridge in the background.

Last year’s artwork captured the feel of a backyard oyster roast.

“I enjoyed creating all of the paintings,” White said. “I think this year’s art is my favorite because for this one I had to actually get out in the marsh to do some hands-on research.”

Earlier this year White was named the winning artist for the 2012 National Shrimp Festival poster. The event is in Gulf Shores, Ala.

White, a lifetime artist, is a graduate of West Brunswick High School, the Art Institute of Atlanta and the American College for the Applied Arts. He has a bachelor’s degree in commercial art.

After living in Atlanta for 11 years, where he also worked as a computer graphic artist, White moved back home to Shallotte in 1998. Until 2003, he worked as a graphic artist at Kool-A-Brew in Calabash. In 2004 White joined the Beacon staff.

In addition to surfing, in his spare time White is freelance artist who specializes in business logos, T-shirt designs and art that has an emphasis on local scenery and surfing.

This year’s Oyster Festival is Oct. 20-21 in Ocean Isle Beach. But you don’t have to wait until then to get a copy of White’s artwork. Prints are $20 each and can be purchased from the Brunswick County Chamber of Commerce in Shallotte or by calling White (910) 232-9615.

 For more information, visit www.ncoysterfestival.com.