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Johnston Artist Still Smiling After Fire Destroys His Work

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SMITHFIELD — A popular Johnston County artist watched 30 years of work go up in flames Tuesday. A fast-moving fire destroyed Frank Creech's business, leaving nothing but charred memories.

If you lost everything in a fire, you would probably be a wreck. On one level, Creech probably is also, but he's not letting what happened Tuesday morning ruin his life.

"We're just going to have to do some clean-up and put up a tent I guess," said Creech.

Creech is a well-known artist and a former Smithfield city councilman. He is still smiling in spite of tremendous losses.

"You lose a lot of pieces that you have had over a long period of time. You will miss those. But I guess you are an eternal optimist, because you know you can make more," said Creech.

His roots are in Smithfield, but Creech's artwork is everywhere.

A full size version of one of his sculptures can be found at Duke University. Another sculpture of a reading family is at the Smithfield library.

Creech built his two story studio himself six months ago. He thought that it would give him more room to do his work. The fire destroyed almost everything.

"This building was actually constructed with some materials that were taken from tobacco barns. With the type and age of materials we are dealing with, it is a tremendous fire load to start with," explained Patrick Harris, Smithfield Fire Marshal.

Among the few things Creech could salvage were his art making tools. He plans to continue his work. He is optimistic about it.

Creech can only smile at the timing, because the fire hit at a day that was already important to him.

"It's my 36th anniversary, and it was ahotone. It's like all the rest of the years. It's been great," Creech said.

Numerous friends have come by to loan their support to Creech and his wife.

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Brian Bowman, Reporter
Brian Bowman, Photographer
John Clark, Web Editor

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