Bonnie Jo Melton

Passed 08/25/2023

Obituary For Bonnie Jo Melton

Bonnie Jo Melton, 68, passed away at home, of natural causes, on August 25.
She was employed as a paralegal by Bagwell Holt Smith P.A. in Chapel Hill. Bonnie is survived by brothers Dennis (Tana) and Charles, sisters Robin Jordan (David) and Cindy Ronman (Tom); nephews Aaron Melton, Sam Melton, and Michael Ronman, and a great-niece, Asher Melton. Bonnie was the daughter of the late Jean and Elliot Melton.

Bonnie was born in Lexington, Kentucky, on August 22, 1955, the fourth of five children. She came in with a determined personality, ready to carve her way into the fold. She never stopped trying to establish visibility. Her family moved to Chapel Hill in 1964, where she attended Chapel Hill public schools. After high school graduation, Bonnie studied at Guilford College in Greensboro, earning a degree in English Literature.

Bonnie was a storyteller. She was a gifted painter with an established posse of admirers. She attended The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and was awarded the Hobson Pittman Prize in Experimental Painting in her final year. In 1984, Bonnie received a Fellowship in Painting from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts to focus on Landscape paintings. Although she would paint plein air the landscapes of Bucks County, her real discovery of the landscape happened in the studio. She would pair down, scrub out, re-invite, rearrange from memory the essence of her subject. This need for landscape as fodder brought Bonnie back to the South and her family. Her studio, now in a dairy barn, Bonnie received funding from the North Carolina Arts Council and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation. She painted full-time, perhaps her most fruitful work emerging. Her own written words describe this period—“The horizon migrated to the top of the paintings, and I began to paint what lay below. Painting became ‘hydraulic’, hauling up emotions and associations creating a visual syntax and grammar for an inner landscape, an inner topography.”

Although Bonnie would paint and explore sculptural ceramic topographies, her day job and life’s pressures put her studio work on hold. She would continue to paint, pairing down in size and subject, still with a fierceness of scrubbed hidden expression. She was almost ready to retire, almost there to walk into the studio in the morning, hold the brush, and begin the evolution of a Bonnie Melton painting.

An after note of Bonnie's loves and contributions…

She loved her animals, her two cats, Ancil and Greta, who have donned many a Facebook post, are now with Charles, her youngest brother. We all looked forward to Bonnie’s humorous Facebook posts. She will be missed, she was loved and she was seen…you can rest our dear, fierce Bonnie.

A memorial service will be held at a later date.

American Cremation is assisting the family.

Guest Book

Bonnie was one of the most interesting people I've had the pleasure of working with at Bagwell Holt Smith. We had some great discussions about music, art, and life. She was always willing to help me when I strayed into title work. She is missed. I love the photo on the obit, and the obit itself.

- na

We love you Bon and always will.....Dennis and Tana

- na

This is a beautiful tribute to Bonnie's life and essence. Thank you so much.

- na

Our staff will continue to keep your family in our prayers. We thank you for allowing us to serve your family.

- American Cremation and Funeral Service | Durham, NC