Artists are coming out of the woodwork, someone was heard to say, and indeed it seems there are more artists in Essex County than anyone knew. If you don’t believe it just stop by the new art gallery in Tappahannock. Located on the corner of Water Lane and Prince Street, it is open Thursdays through Saturdays from 11:00-6:30 PM and Sundays from 12:00-5:00 PM from October through December. Local artists and photographers exhibit their work and offer some for sale.
The Tappahannock Artists’ Guild (TAG) had its beginning in the spring of 2011 with a small group of artists who saw the potential for local artists to exhibit their work and to encourage community appreciation of visual arts. “We plan to arrange classes for children and adults in painting with different mediums,” explained Frank Rixey, President of the Guild. “Other opportunities may include classes in photography, pottery, woodcarving, fiber art, and sculpting. Visiting lecturers from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts are being invited to give presentations to the community.”
TAG organized in March of 2011 and in April held an open house at the Beale Courthouse for the community to learn more about the organization, enjoy some of the art, and join the membership. “Besides the members who are artists
we encourage others in the community to support the Tappahannock Artists’ Guild by becoming Friends and Patrons,” says Marty Taylor, Board Chairperson.
TAG became recognized quickly in Tappahannock and Essex County. Artists displayed and sold their paintings at RivahFest, the annual festival that drew about 13,000 people into the town of usually 1500 people in June 2011.
TAG also participated every first Friday during the summer in the Wine on the Water and Arts in the Park. This community event raised funds for the Free Health Clinic in Tappahannock as well as the Tappahannock Artists’ Guild. Adding live music and good food to the mix of choice wines and art enticed people from both sides of the Rappahannock River to gather at the end of Prince Street in Atkins Park. “It’s a wonderful thing when non-profit organizations can work together to create an opportunity for people to slow down and allow themselves to be in a creative atmosphere while making a difference in the community,” observed Michael Faulkner, TAG Board member.
TAG artists participated on October 2 in the birding event held at Hutchinson Tract, a wildlife refuge just outside of Tappahannock. Artists painted en plein air the scenery and wildlife they observed. One of the participating artists, Bob Carter, remarked “I was painting in the rain with acrylics and the rain caused the paint to run. But what made it all worthwhile was when I was walking to my setup spot a young eagle flew out of the tree in front of me. You could hear the power in his wings as he was taking off. It startled me at first but then I just stood in awe wishing I had my camera.” Bob went on, “Since taking art I have learned to see things from a different aspect and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation in everything I see. My hope for the Tappahannock Artists’ Guild is to be able to pass this on to young people so that they can enjoy life through art and develop their talents early on. There is so much talent being wasted in our world today because there is no one to encourage or support the artist.”
A golf tournament and auction were held at Hobbs Hole Golf Course during the summer, and this, along with memberships, garnered enough funds to rent for three months the storefront on the corner of Prince and Water Lane. The community is submitting suggestions to be considered for the name of the Gallery.
Jen Donald is the web designer for www.tapparts.org. On this site artists find out about events and shows where they might participate. Her prize-winning work is seen in Java Jack’s Coffee House and was recently featured at the monthly Tappahannock Farmers Market as well as the Essex Public Library.
“I love the positive energy of the Tappahannock Artists’ Guild,” says Jen. “There is so much talent in our area, and bringing the Guild, the gallery, and artists together not only positively charges the artists but is generating genuine excitement for the visual arts throughout our community. Fine art isn’t just north or south of us. It is right here—created by us and for us. This is a great opportunity to further the revitalization of our area culturally and economically.”