I have had studio space in Old Towne, Petersburg since 2015. It has been an interesting ride. I have watched the businesses in this historic city work so hard to survive and this past summer has been hard on everyone. Sometimes I think all we need is more advertisement. No one seems to know we exist and it is frustrating. The restaurants and bars have their own word of mouth system but the galleries and artists who work in the city are faced with trying to build up their profiles.
I have spent the past two years painting people how live and work in Petersburg and it has been a wonderful experience getting to know everyone. This is a small community, but so many are worried (especially the young) about their futures. In that sense Petersburg is like many other places around the country. Drugs, homelessness, crime, and poverty have settled in among the nooks and crannies of the fourth oldest community in America. First there was Jamestown, second Citie of Henricus, third Hopewell, then Petersburg. Next to Old Towne is Pocahontas Island, the oldest free black community in America. Tear up asphalt and you see cobble stones. There are a few buildings dating to the war of 1812 when Petersburg was the Cockade City, proud to be American. My first studio was in the oldest building in Old Towne, built 1811. My studio now is in a building (built around 1834) damaged by union shelling during the Civil War.
2017 is fast coming to an end. I had my Portraits of Petersburg Show in August at the Petersburg Area Art League. Forty-one portraits were on display filling the main gallery.
What started as little bird paintings I painted as thank-yous for donating to my GoFundMe campaign turned into quite a collection. I could have easily painted a hundred of them and have been broadening the animal subjects I paint.
I’m grateful to have a lot of community support for the portraits and am eager to find another art project to start next year. I have a new show in January to plan for and I have been thinking about printmaking. I used to make woodcuts years ago and have been thinking that might be a new direction to go in addition to my commission work. Perhaps use all the wonderful photos I took in Old Towne and surrounding areas in Virginia for a series of wood cuts. I will keep posting on my progress.