On my wall hangs a large giclée by artist James Way that depicts a marsh in summer with a thunderstorm brewing in the distance. It speaks of my love for warm weather, salt water, and the natural beauty of our region. The painting is akin to a window looking out onto the world, and we each have our own personal preferences as to how we wish to see it.
The type of art you select says a lot about who you are, what delights you, what inspires, and can even reflect a bit of personal history—where you’ve been or where you hope to be heading. Whether you hang it on the wall or wear it on your person, art makes a statement.
You needn’t travel far to find that perfect piece. Our region abounds with fine art galleries offering the best in local, regional, and even nationally acclaimed art. Although they all share a love for fine art, each gallery is unique. Some thrive on art sales alone; others combine sales with other services or activities—custom framing, art classes, musicals, theater events, catering, and a host of other activities that attract people from all over the Mid Atlantic. So why not take some time and visit them yourself?
Morning Glory Gallery—Ware Neck
One step inside Stephanie Ruff’s ‘Morning Glory Gallery’ and you are greeted by her effervescent Welsh corgi, Teaghan, and the fragrance of perfumed candles. This small but inviting white stucco cottage was once a foundry and then a machine shop, but has since been transformed by the owner into an intimate and inviting space filled with antique display pieces and comfy upholstered furnishings in order to enjoy her eclectic selection of original paintings and giclée, pottery, wood carvings, fiber art, and jewelry, much of it with regional appeal.
Stephanie’s specialty is conservation framing, utilizing American and Italian frames and museum quality cotton rag matting. Customers appreciate her keen eye for color and texture and her turnaround time of 1-2 weeks is a definite plus. Tucked away in rural Ware Neck near Gloucester Courthouse, Morning Glory Gallery is clearly a destination, although spring and fall bring walk-in traffic from folks enjoying events elsewhere in the county.
Gloucester Arts on Main, Inc. (GAMi)
When architect Kay Van Dyke suddenly found herself retired, she seized the opportunity to follow her dream of opening an art gallery. In an abandoned 1920s Ford dealership on Main Street in Gloucester Courthouse, Kay drew on her skills as an architect to renovate the 6000 square foot space complete with its historic caveats. Now it is a vibrant non-profit group running an Art Center.
In addition to spaces allotted to consignment artists, GAMi has concentrated on the fine arts education of both children and adult by offering a variety of classes, seminars, theater performances, musicals, poetry readings, comedy clubs, lectures, and seasonal events. Most recently they have sponsored an after-hours art course at Botetourt Elementary School by providing a teacher two days a week.
The spacious gallery is filled with an eclectic mix of paintings, pottery, woodworking, jewelry, metal crafts, and children’s completed art projects. Classes range from drawing and painting to polymer clay, jewelry making, stained glass, weaving, and an assortment of other artistic endeavors.
Gresham House Gallery— Tappahannock
Newlyweds Jim and Ginny Meisner Jr. moved to Tappahannock to open an art gallery, be near the water, and spend more time together. Jim’s busy schedule as a professional writer and actor, and Ginny’s time spent as a science teacher, left little time for the couple to be together. Opening Gresham House Gallery in the fall of 2012 changed all that.
Housed in an 1820 duplex, Gresham House once served as both an office and a general store. Named in honor of the Gresham family who had resided there for many years, the Meisners have been thrilled to discover that the region attracts a number of second home owners that come down year round; some come every weekend. With steady traffic from out-of-town visitors, second home owners, and local residents, the gallery stays busy year round.
In addition to consignment and wholesale artists, the gallery specializes in regional pottery, jewelry, woodworking, and decoy carving that capture the essence of Tidewater. They also carry a line of Virginia’s Finest foods. For many repeat customers it’s one-stop shopping at its best.
Tappahannock Art Guild (TAG)—Tappahannock
Begun in the spring of 2011 with a small group of artists and local businesspersons who saw the need for a local cultural facility and also provide space for local artists to exhibit their work, the Tappahannock Art Guild continues to attract an ever growing membership of like artists.
Through the efforts and inspiration of an enthusiastic membership and supportive patrons, for the past three years TAG has succeeded in bringing more fine arts and exceptional crafts to their community and surrounding areas. Under the guidance of the guild’s instruction committee, educational opportunities in the form of furniture painting, collage, art instruction for youth, and the popular Second Sunday lecture series continue to attract members and visitors alike.
The gallery, located on the corner of Prince Street and Water Lane, features a variety of wall art, fiber art, sculpture, photography, and jewelry for sale. Custom framing is also available.
New Town Art Gallery— Williamsburg
Being voted best art gallery in Williamsburg for 2013, the owners of New Town Art Gallery were thrilled considering their venture is only three and a half years old. The spacious gallery showcases original art by the seven owners/artists, and a revolving collage of visiting local artists who offer up an eclectic mix of fine art featuring landscapes, portraits, abstracts, impressionist, and 3D art such as sculpture and jewelry.
The gallery is reminiscent of fine art galleries found in much larger cities. The open floor plan, furnished with benches, encourages browsing and viewing; soft track lighting and music invite contemplation; and overall spaciousness provides ample accommodations for special events, receptions, and entertainment.
In the past, the gallery has hosted opera, ballet, and intimate gatherings. As a member of Williamsburg Chamber of Commerce, the gallery will soon host their first Business After Hours.
Strategically located within New Town Williamsburg, its newest vibrant community, the gallery attracts visitors and locals in search of traditional fine art for their homes.
It would take a dictionary of superlatives to describe Objects Art & More in the delightful river town of Irvington in the Northern Neck. Fashioned after the art boutiques found in the District of Columbia’s Georgetown, interior designer Terri Wesselman has filled this former gas station with a wide variety of work by extremely talented artists from around the US.
More than 200 outstanding artists are represented in a variety of media from paintings, sculptures, art glass, woodworking, pottery, raku, one-of-a-kind designer jewelry, and home decor. There’s something for everyone.
As a part time Irvington resident, Wesselman is personally acquainted with many of the artists represented, and delights in sharing her love of fine art with others. Open since May 2013, the gallery plans to host artist meet and greet events, affording visitors and perspective buyers the unique opportunity to interact with an artist and engage in an exchange regarding that artist’s overall vision and techniques.
Rappahannock Art League — Kilmarnock
The forecast for snow did not deter the bustle of activities taking place inside the Studio Gallery on Main Street. This busy co-op is the oldest and largest visual arts organization in the area. Founded in 1949, there are now 400 members with several dozen members’ work on display at any one time.
The mission of Rappahannock Art league is to organize, sponsor and encourage educational and cultural activities in the visual arts and crafts. To this end the gallery provides a creative environment for artist groups to draw, paint, and photograph together, share new techniques, and hone their skills in a relaxed, informal setting.
The League’s calendar is chock full of activities for members with a variety of interests and skill levels. From drawing to jewelry making, wire art to candy making, collages to mosaics. There are workshops, exhibits, and tours for adults and children. Their monthly newsletter helps you plan your month, filled with fun projects, forums, workshops, and receptions.
Urbanna Harb or Gallery & Art Services—Urbanna
When Urbanna local Cloyde Wiley III and wife Barbara Hartley had an opportunity to not only return home but to fulfill a dream of opening an art gallery, they jumped at the chance. Buying a foreclosed building on Virginia Street provided the space not only for an invitational gallery but an antique mall filled with quality vintage pieces and complementary decorative arts.
The gallery opened in May 2011 and now represents more than sixty established and emerging professional artists in various media. In an ever changing panorama, paintings, photography, print making, art glass, sculpture, woodworking, jewelry, pottery and raku offer an eclectic selection of fine arts.
Whether you purchase it here, create it yourself, or buy it elsewhere, the gallery offers custom framing. With full photographic imaging and processing capabilities, they provide complete design services including logo development, graphic standards, layout, letterheads, business cards, and brochures to name a few. Fine and practical solutions, all under one roof.
A piece of art may shout to you from across a room or whisper softly like a siren’s song, but once it speaks to you it may be impossible to ignore. Art is a treasure to be treasured; welcoming it into your home is just the start of a long and satisfying relationship. Happy shopping!