Michael Francis Reagan: The Last Mapmaker

Handpainted map of historic Montford in Asheville, NC, by Michael Francis Reagan.
Map of the historic Montford neighborhood in Asheville, NC

This summer, Grovewood Gallery will present The Last Mapmaker, a collection of works by Michael Francis Reagan, one of the most accomplished cartographers of the 21st century. This exhibition will showcase hand-painted maps from all over the world, created by Reagan during his extensive 50+ year career as an artist and illustrator. An opening reception will be held on Saturday, July 13, from 2-5 p.m., where guests will have the opportunity to meet Reagan and enjoy complimentary beverages from Metro Wines. This event is free to attend and open to the public. The Last Mapmaker will remain on view through September 15, 2024.

Map of Little Big Horn Battlefield

Michael Francis Reagan has illustrated more than 2,000 maps for renowned publications such as Smithsonian, National Geographic, Harper’s, The New Yorker, and Audubon. 225 of Reagan’s original illustrated maps are in the collection of the Map and Atlas Museum in La Jolla, California, and will eventually be permanently housed at The Library of Congress.

In the era of digital cartography, Reagan will likely be the last mapmaker working in the hand-painted traditions of the old masters. As technology progresses, such traditional practices are becoming rare, marking him as a unique figure in the field.

“I’ve always tried to paint the beauty of the world’s oceans and rivers, mountains and islands in the faraway places I’ve lived and visited, but in the end, inevitably, it’s the innate beauty of watercolor flowing across the white paper that keeps me mesmerized,” says Reagan.

Coastal North Carolina Map

Reagan was born in Arkansas but grew up in a military family that moved around the world just about every two years. From a young age, he displayed a penchant for art, choosing to pursue this interest through drawing and painting classes, first in Japan and subsequently in Germany. He joined the Navy at 17 during the Vietnam War and served as a Plane Captain on the USS Enterprise. After the service, he drifted west, ending up in San Francisco, where he made a living as a sidewalk chalk artist and a digger in Haight-Ashbury, gathering and distributing leftover food from area restaurants to the hungry and homeless.

Caribbean Islands Map
Galápagos Islands Map

In the following years, Reagan embarked on a journey traversing the Pacific and Caribbean islands before enrolling in the Master of Fine Arts program at the University of Arkansas. He earned an MFA in fine art painting, then accepted an assignment with the Peace Corps in the Ivory Coast, where he worked as a graphic designer and textbook illustrator. It was during this period that he met Christine, who later became his wife.

Reagan and Christine (a creative weaver) now live in the mountains of western North Carolina, where they paint and weave side by side in their studio. They have four grown sons and three grandchildren.

Connemara, Ireland Map

Sponsored by Metro Wines

This exhibition is sponsored by Metro Wines, located at 169 Charlotte Street in Asheville. Metro Wines has been voted the #1 wine shop in Asheville for the past seven years, quoted in The Wall Street Journal, and recently featured in Wine Enthusiast!

Metro Wines Asheville is sponsoring this holiday sip and shop.


Free parking is available on-site at Grovewood Village; however, parking is relatively limited, and carpooling is always encouraged. The Grove Park Inn does have a parking garage directly across the street from us. From January 3 through September 30, they offer 1 hour of complimentary parking. After that, 1-3 hours is $12 and 3-6 hours is $22.

Have questions about this event?
Please email us at info@grovewood.com.


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