The NRV Through an Artist’s Eye Art & Book Project

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The Art Project
Blacksburg often makes national lists as an affordable mountain town for retirement, a wonderful place to raise kids, and a dream town for outdoor enthusiasts.  One of the reasons we join those ranks every year is because the New River Valley and the Blue Ridge Mountains are ancient, lovely and majestic to behold. What better way to celebrate the beauty that surrounds us than to showcase it through art?  And, particularly, art captured by the eyes and rendered by the hands of the talented artists here in the Valley who take it in every day!

So, at the end of 2016, The Artful Lawyer invited artists from across the New River Valley to join its October 2017 themed show, “The New River Valley Through an Artist’s Eye,” asking them specifically to photograph, paint, collage, or otherwise interpret artistically what moves them about this area – landscapes, vistas, historic buildings, or other subject matter that for them defines the NRV.

The Book Project 

The Artful Lawyer’s curator, Diana Francis, also gave the 52 participating artists other tasks during the year as part of the project. The biggest element of this multi-layered exhibit is the 12×9” landscape book which catalogs the artwork, photographed by Pippi Miller at Miller off Main St. Galleries, and includes a map of the locales featured. In order to fully frame the book as a legacy project for our exemplary community artists and promote tourism in our valley, the gallery urged artists to both increase their social media or online presence and write narratives to accompany their work. 

The gallery offered two workshops to help this effort. First, a social media workshop in April.  Roanoke-based Soapbox Marketing gurus Chris West and Ellen Moseley covered the basics of online presence for artists, different ways artists can engage with a variety of online audiences, how to polish professional websites, Facebook pages and much more. Several of the gallery’s exhibiting artists created very simple and elegant websites as a result of this session in particular. All contact information including social media presence is available as part of the book’s appendix.

Second, the book’s co-editor, Mary Ann Parcher, helped the gallery host a writer’s workshop in June to assist artists craft narratives and bios for both the exhibit and the book. These narratives, as a whole, add deep context to the artwork and illustrate a rich love for our area. And that was the goal of the project.  

The Visual Narrative

The 51 pieces in the exhibit and the book take you on a tour of places in our valley that are historically and personally relevant to each artist. Some are tourist attractions, some are places one may not recognize. But together each piece, coupled with its narrative, paint an artistic story of our region. Through the artist’s perspective, one will see a glimpse into the history of the Walton railroad, Ingles Farm, the Newport covered bridge, the Alexander Black House, and other notable landmarks.  One will also experience the incredible views from our iconic Blue Ridge Mountains as well as more intimate perspectives shared from our artists’ own home fronts.  Armed with the geographical coordinates of each location, one may experience any of these places in real time as well.

The Exhibit

The exhibit opened Wednesday, October 4 and continues though December 13. Judging and Artist Awards were presented by Sarah Steppelman Mason who holds a BFA from the University of Central Missouri and MFA from the University of Arizona.  Prizes were awarded to the following: 

1st Place:  “It’s a Big, Amazing World”, photograph by Pippi Miller
2nd Place: “Appalachian Trail”, journal sketches by Matt Gentry
3rd Place: “In Cahoots”, oil by Lisa Acciai
People’s Choice: “The Garden”, by Kathy Elich

Some work is still available for purchase and the show may travel to other galleries in the months of January and February.   

Show Dates: October 4
 – December 13


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