Merry Falls

Julyan Davis (B. 1965)

Building art MERRY FALLS

Julyan Davis was born in England and received his B.A. in painting and printmaking from the Byam Shaw School of Art in London. He was initially drawn to the southern United States to visit Demopolis, A.L., after learning that Bonapartist generals had settled there long before Alabama became a state. A devoted reader of Southern literature and an admirer of Southern music, Davis has painted the American South for more than 25 years.

Davis lives in Asheville, N.C., where he continues to find inspiration in the history, culture and natural beauty of the western part of the state. His subject matter is diverse and includes features of the mountainous landscape, urban streetscapes, interiors and narrative paintings of Appalachian murder ballads,” which explore cultural mythologies that can be traced to Scottish traditions brought to the region by its 18th-century settlers. 

Davis has painted several of western North Carolina’s spectacular waterfalls, including the subject of this painting, located near Brevard. His early autumnal depiction of this split waterfall captures the energy inherent in the cascading water, as well as the subtle variances in the surface of the rock — in places smooth, layered, moss covered, or worn away by the power of the water — all against the backdrop of the foliage as it begins its display of fall color. 

Davis’ ongoing exploration of the power of water recalls James B. Duke’s advancement of hydroelectric power plants in the Carolinas more than a century before, establishing the Catawba Power Company in 1904 and the Southern Power Company (later renamed Duke Power Company) in 1905, which brought electricity to the Piedmont region and fueled the growth of a variety of burgeoning industries.