The Down East Canvas and Gallery, located at the foot of the bridge in Oriental, is one of the Pamlico region's most interesting art spaces, with quite an unusual history to boot. With an avid collection that spans from the practical, (namely canvas boat supplies), to the naturally inspiring, the destination is part utilitarian marine store, and part eclectic gallery showroom, and the end result is a remarkable one-of-a-kind gallery that somehow feels quintessentially Oriental.

The original Down East Canvas, Ltd., which was located at the same Broad Street location where the current Down East Canvas and Gallery is found,was a local shop that sold handmade and high quality marine canvas products for over 20 years created by the owners, Joe and Elizabeth Harris. A local source of pride, the original shop won numerous national awards for their expertly crafted dodgers, biminis, outside vessel enclosures, and interior designs, and the shop attracted maritime visitors from all over the country.

The Harrises retired, briefly, until they decided to return to their labor of love, and soon thereafter reopened the store as a combination canvas shop and art gallery. The original layout was completely refurbished to accommodate both specialties, and visitors today will be greeted with a wide open, sunny space that showcases local and regional artists in a variety of mediums.

Several artists, like Margueritte Garrett, are based out of Oriental and feature homegrown works inspired by the waterfront surroundings. The Harrises also proudly showcase the works of many regional artists, both in and around Pamlico County, including several Hatteras Island and Outer Banks artists which highlight the coastal North Carolina scenes in photographs, intricate tile works, and even pottery pieces.

There is a world of mediums represented at the gallery, ensuring shoppers of all varieties will find an exquisite and completely one-of-a-kind piece to take home and treasure. Watercolors, unusual Alcohol Inks, Oil Paintings, Photography, Clay Works, Jewelry and Accessories, Basketry, and Woodworking can all be found within the gallery space, in addition to functional art items, (like cozy throws, note cards, cutting boards and Christmas ornaments), and a selection of local and regional books. There's also a working studio on site where visiting and local artists can draw inspiration from the busy waterfront scene right outside the gallery's doors, and create new works to display at the gallery.

The other part of the shop is dedicated toDown East's original canvas business, now nearly 30 years old, and continuing its tradition of providing the best canvas products for all maritime purposes. Repair service is available for passing mariners, and the Harrises can even design and fabricate custom products of any variety, and for vessels of all sizes.

The Down East Canvas and Gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday, year round from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Special canvas requests or questions can be addressed by contacting the shop at 252 249-1004 or via email at

Charming and engaging for art lovers of all tastes, the Down East Canvas and Gallery is a perfect example of Oriental's culture. Colorful, inspiring, and at its heart completely nautical, this gallery is a must-see for anyone who appreciates an insider's look at Coastal Carolina's everyday life and inherent love of the water.