Benjamin F. Long IV was born in Victoria, TX in 1945 where his father, a fighter pilot in WW II, was
stationed. His mother returned to their home in NC while Ben was still a baby. Reared in a family of
artists, writers, professors, and university presidents, Long was as precocious in his artistic ability as he
was eager to apply it. At 18, Long followed his father's footsteps to the University of North Carolina at
Chapel Hill, where he majored in Creative Writing under the guidance of his friend and advisor Reynolds
Price. Upon completing his University coursework and at the insistence of his advisor, Long moved to
New York to immerse himself in the study of fine art.
In NYC, Long became a member of the Art Students League of New York, studying under the guidance of
such notable artists as Robert Beverly Hale and Frank Mason. Then, in 1969, Long preempted the draft
by enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps. He served just over two tours of duty in Vietnam as a Marine Corps
Combat Officer; during his last tour he served as Commander of the Combat Art Team, and much of his
work from that period is now on display at the United Stated Marine Corps Museum.
Upon leaving Vietnam, Long traveled to Florence, Italy, to apprentice himself to internationally
renowned Maestro Pietro Annigoni, with whom he learned the art of True Fresco. Long committed
himself to Annigoni for almost nine years. His apprenticeship culminated in 1976, when he was
awarded the prestigious Leonardo da Vinci International Art Award for his first fresco in the U.S. St.
Mary Great With Child. This painting was followed by three other frescoes. All four of these frescoes
were created in two Episcopal churches in Ashe County, NC.
In 1984, Long moved to France where, for the next 14 years, he split time between Paris and the Gard
region of Provence. By that time, Long had completed several frescoes in Italy, including a joint fresco
with Annigoni and the only work by a non-Italian at the Abbey of Montecassino. These works set the
stage for 15 major fresco projects in the U.S. including a dome and the largest secular fresco in the
In addition to his prolific fresco work, Long has had works in the Royal Academy as well as the Royal
Portrait Society (London, UK). He has exhibited in Florence, London, Paris, Atlanta, San Francisco, New
York, North Carolina, and South Carolina, and is represented in major collections throughout Europe and
the Americas. He has lived and worked in Europe for over thirty years and now divides his time between
Europe and the United States. He currently lives mainly in Asheville, NC where he has two art studios
and an art school.
Charles Gilbert Kapsner was born in Little Falls, Minnesota in 1952. He studied art history and water
color painting at St Cloud State University. In 173, he began studies at the Universita Internazionale dell'
Arts in Florence, Italy. In 1974, Kapsner started a five-year study at the private studio of Madame Nerina
Simi in Florence. While here, he apprenticed with the established true fresco artist Benjamin Long.
Mr. Kapsner has been recognized nationally and internationally, receiving the 2005 Career Achievement
Award from the Florence Biennale, the Salmagundi Club Award, and having a painting placed in the
permanent collection of the US Coast Guard in 2017. He received the Silver Medal in the Oil Painters of
America Salon in 2016, and was a finalist in the 2016 Portrait Society of America Still Life division. The
Five Wing Arts Council in Minnesota selected Kapsner as its Master Artist for 2013-2014.
His work has been displayed in solo and group exhibitions from Minnesota to California, North Carolina,
New York, Italy, and France. He was commissioned by the Minnesota State, Veterans Cemetery
Memorial Association to design and paint five large oil paintings to pay tribute to the men and women
of the five branches of the US Military. These paintings are installed in the Committal Hall of the
Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery near Little Falls.
Sheila Batiste was born in 1955 near Goldsboro, NC. She received her batchelor's and
master's degrees from UNC-Greensboro. In her career as an artist, she received
the "Anonymous Was A Woman" award in 1999. This award is given to women artists
who are over 40 years of age, in part as a way of countering sexism in the art world.
The award comes with a grant of $25,000 and is designed to enable exceptional women
artists to further develop their work.Awardees are chosen on the basis of their
past accomplishments, their originality and artistic growth, and the quality of their work.
Sheila has exhibited works on transcending race themes. She is now an art
teacher in the East Hampton, NY School District.
D. Jeffrey Mims was born in Southern Pines, NC. in 1954. He attended the Rhode Island School of Design and
the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Mims as a painter, educator, lecturer, and muralist, has been at
the forefront of the revival of the classical tradition for many years. In 1976, he received an Elizabeth T.
Greenshields Foundation grant to copy masterworks in museums in England, France, and Italy. In 1981,
he returned to Florence, Italy to study with Benjamin Long, the famous true fresco artist, for a year.
Mr. Mims painted the true fresco "The Departure of Christ" in Holy Trinity Church in Glendale Springs, NC
during 1983-84. He was commissioned to paint this fresco as a memorial to a young girl in the
congregation who died at the age of 10 after being struck by a truck near St. Mary's Church. This fresco
depicts Christ leaving his family to preach the Gospel, the good news that there is life forever. Jesus
embraces his mother, Mary, as his grandmother, Anne, looks on. The men and women of the village are
about their daily chores.
In recognition of this mural fresco, Mims received the "Arthur Ross Award" for "excellence and integrity
in the application of classical ideals" in 1984. In 2009, he was awarded the Institute of Classical
Architecture and Classical America "Alma Schapiro Prize", a Fellowship at the American Academy in
Rome. Mims has lectured on historic collaborations between artists and architects for the Institute of
Classical Architecture and Art, the University of Notre Dame, and other organizations.
The Academy of Classical Design in Southern Pines, NC was founded by Mr. Mims in 2011. He is
currently its Director. The Academy is a studio school of fine art with an emphasis on traditional mural
painting and architectural decorations. The Academy serves as the educational branch of the Classical
Design Foundation, a US-based non-profit organization which was established for the preservation and
practice of classical design in the public realm.