What does renaissance artwork from Italy and the High Country have in common? Both have fresco paintings.

Fresco painting is a technique of mural painting executed on wet lime plaster. Water is used as the solution for the pigment to bind with the plaster so that when it sets the painting and the plaster become one.

Perhaps the most recognizable fresco in the world is Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper.” While none of Leonardo’s work will be found in the High Country, visitors can enjoy masterfully done frescoes from artist Ben Long and his art students.

Three churches in the region, St. Mary’s Church and Holy Trinity Church in Ashe County and the E.H. Sloop Chapel on the campus of the Crossnore School in Avery County, have Long’s frescoes.

Long painted three different frescoes in St. Mary’s Church, 400 Beaver Creek Road, West Jefferson, the set titled “The Mystery of Faith.” The set features a pregnant Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ on the cross and John the Baptist.

The Holy Trinity Church, 195 J.W. Luke Road in West Jefferson, features Long’s “The Last Supper.”

Both Ashe County churches are open 24-hours-a-day for visitation and meditation.

The E.H. Sloop Chapel, featuring Long’s “Suffer the Little Children,” is located at the Crossnore School in Avery County and is open for public viewing daily from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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