December 6, 2005: Headlines: COS - Ghana: Art: Chapel Hill News: Ghana RPCV Rose Rosely co-founds the Dirt Road Gallery

Peace Corps Online: State: North Carolina: February 8, 2005: Index: PCOL Exclusive: North Carolina : December 6, 2005: Headlines: COS - Ghana: Art: Chapel Hill News: Ghana RPCV Rose Rosely co-founds the Dirt Road Gallery

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Ghana RPCV Rose Rosely co-founds the Dirt Road Gallery

Ghana RPCV Rose Rosely co-founds the Dirt Road Gallery

Rosely served in the Peace Corps outside Bawku in Upper East Ghana in 1999 and 2000. She sent a plethora of art pieces home via the mails and her mother, carrying as much as she could when she visited the States.

Ghana RPCV Rose Rosely co-founds the Dirt Road Gallery

Treasures down a dirt road
Brush Strokes


“You have to go,” said my friend Jackie Helvey, a Web designer who runs the site and has a keen interest in artists and their work.

With these words she thrust into my hand a whimsically painted metal cutout of a dog.

Helvey had just discovered Dirt Road Gallery, a new art spot that opened Oct. 1 down — appropriately enough — a dirt road off Dairyland Road, not too far from Maple View Farm. The gallery is owned by Alison Erca and Rose Rosely.

So, always excited about seeing new art, I went. And it turns out there is a lovely additional draw; the gallery is in a beautiful old barn, built circa 1817, created of hand-hewn logs held together by chinking.

It’s so small that if you turn around you are likely to meet yourself. Nevertheless, that turn is like traversing the world. Erca and Rosely have purchased the artwork on their travels to various parts of the globe — travels they will continue to make.

“We were brainstorming about a way that we could live and work and enjoy this place,” Rosely said. They toyed with the idea of opening a bed-and-breakfast, but that plan dropped by the wayside after the idea of an art gallery took hold.

Both women love and collect art. Erca traveled in Ghana and the Ivory Coast in the early ’90s and brought back several art pieces she bought there.

Rosely served in the Peace Corps outside Bawku in Upper East Ghana in 1999 and 2000. She sent a plethora of art pieces home via the mails and her mother, carrying as much as she could when she visited the States. She returned this past summer from two years spent teaching third- and fourth-graders in Honduras.

On breaks, she and Erca traveled in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Mexico — and everywhere they went, they returned with art. Other pieces in the gallery come from their travels in the Middle East.

Besides sharing their art with people, the two wanted to provide artists who might not have an outlet to sell their work a place to do so for a fair price.

Rosely said people have come into this small space and spent hours browsing over the paper cut-outs and bark paintings from Mexico, appliqué cloths from Panama, beaded bracelets, necklaces and purses from Guatemala, vintage Kinte cloth, mud paintings and cotton blankets from Africa to name a few items.

Rosely asked artists in Ghana to make the cotton blankets from cloth that is traditionally used for making ceremonial smocks. American folk artist Cornbread also has paintings in the gallery.

But what far-off land did that whimsical dog come from? Just in the other room, actually. Rosely, who was a television storyboard designer in Los Angeles before she left for Ghana, is a self-taught artist. She paints found wood and metal in her studio, which is about one-third the size of the gallery and just as old. Walking into it is like entering one big giggle. Visitors are welcome there too.

“I want this work to give people a break from the heaviness of life,” Rosely said. “People do find it amusing.”

You can check out her work at

Parting with their beloved works of art can be difficult for Erca and Rosely, but part they do.

“You can’t take any of it with you, and to have something different you have to let something else go,” Erca said. “Rose had some nested bowls she’d bought in Michigan years ago that were made in Mexico. I think it was the weekend before the gallery opened and a family stopped by; they’d seen one of our fliers up at Weaver Street Market. The parents were visiting from Mexico and saw the bowls and said they are hard to find even in Mexico. They were from the 1940s. They wanted to buy them, which they did, and they are taking them home to Mexico.”

You have to go. As my friend Jackie says, it is a wonderful collection of art and very affordable.

The gallery is open December 10, 11, 17 and 18 from noon to 6 p.m. and then is closed until the end of March. Call 933-6999 if you want to go on a different day; otherwise just drop in.

To get there take Dairyland Road away from Carrboro to Marions Ford Road. There is a sign there to the gallery. Follow Marion’s Ford left until it dead ends at Brights Way, the road the gallery is on, and you are there. The road is quite long, and you may feel a bit like you have traveled to Mexico.

Linger if you like. Erca, a lawyer who bought the property in 1992, and Rosely are happy to show off the house as well as the gallery and studio.

“We have met so many neat people through the gallery,” Erca said. “That has been a benefit in itself. I find myself continually amazed by people that we meet from the gallery and their stories, people we wouldn’t have met otherwise.”

You will leave there with a whole new reason to be glad for the onset of spring, when the Dirt Road Gallery reopens, replenished with treasures and stories from around the world.

For more information, see the Web site at

When this story was posted in December 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: Chapel Hill News

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Ghana; Art


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