By Jack LaMarche | Photography by Beth Mann
Pittsboro artist Onicas Gaddis is known for his deeply expressive paintings. After moving to North Carolina in 2016 from Florida, Onicas wanted to find a community that would meld well with his artistic endeavors. It was the people of Chatham County who attracted him to this area. “Wherever I go, I’m looking for the artists,” Onicas says, “and Chatham County has a lot of beautiful people.”
Growing up, Onicas moved from foster home to foster home, and credits his early life with shaping his work. “My art is the reason I’m still alive,” he says. “I could have been doing so many other things, getting in trouble, but instead I was drawing.” Onicas grew up in Alabama and started his career as an artist with pencils and charcoal as his two primary mediums.
It wasn’t until he spent time at the Alabama Art Colony under the tutelage of artist Sarah Carlisle Towery that he began his journey as a painter. “She taught me how to paint and not think of a finished painting, and that the painting will tell you what it wants to be,” Onicas says. That idea imprinted deeply on Onicas’ own work, which he characterizes as “spiritual expressionism.” “I feel like I’m more of a vessel,” Onicas says, elaborating further on the label. “When I paint, I’m really not in control of the finished piece. It’s more like, ‘heart and soul.’”
He may not feel fully in control when immersed in painting, but “whatever I’m experiencing in life goes on the canvas,” he says. “Good, bad, ugly, sad, it all goes on the canvas.”
Chathamites can find Onicas work online at onicasart.com and displayed throughout our area, including past exhibitions at Blue Dot Coffee and The Modern Life Deli & Drinks, and at his studio on West Street. He’s currently looking to display his work again in early August.