Monday, February 1, 2010

A Flourishing of Arts in Floyd (Part III)

The following is the third and final installment of a story I wrote about our local art scene for a Floyd Press special insert. Part I is HERE. Part II is HERE.

The literary arts also have a presence in Floyd, with a monthly open mic night and at least two writing workshop groups. Poets and writers of all literary styles gather once a month for a Spoken Word Open Mic at the Café Del Sol. Books by local authors can be found in downtown shops, as can an abundance of music CDs. Open mics provide a performing stage for established musicians and writers, and also act as an outreach to those getting started in those arts. Blackwater Loft and Oddfellas Cantina both host monthly open mics, mainly for music.

Some of the venues for the arts in Floyd are seasonal and involve grass, lawn chairs, pavilions, or decks. The Oak Grove Pavilion at the Zion Lutheran Church hosts a summer schedule of music and plays, which are supported by donations that the church passes on to local charities and causes. The Pine Tavern has hosted some well received acts on their outdoor Pavilion stage. Tuggles Gap Motel and Restaurant has a weekend outdoor music series, and Jazz Festivals at Château Morrisette Winery attract crowds from far and wide.

Floyd isn’t just a venue for local musicians. Famous talents have played here. Maria Muldaur performed at the Pine Tavern. Leon Russell has played there and at the Winter Sun. The Country Store has featured Wayne Henderson with Jeff Little, The King Wilkie Band, Ronnie Stoneman of Hee Haw fame, and more. Floyd Fest, a world music festival on 80 acres off the Blue Ridge Parkway, features camping, vending, children’s activities, and six stages for musical performances. The festival, about to begin their 7th year, has helped to secure Floyd’s place on the music map. They welcome community participation, headline well known national and international acts, and feature emerging talent from the region.

Other signs that Floyd is a flourishing community of many artists turn up in unusual places. Outdoor wood sculptures by Charlie Brouwer and Lanny Bean can be found around town. The main desk at the Jessie Peterman Library was carved by Ernest Bryant, whose Celtic mantel fireplace was featured in a story for the Washington Post and a 2004 issue of Fine Homebuilding. The Hotel Floyd, which opened this past fall, enlisted the help the arts community to decorate and furnish their guest rooms and suites. The fourteen theme rooms showcase Floyd culture and art.

The arts in Floyd have come far since The Old Church Gallery paved the way when it opened in 1978. With a focus on cultural arts and local history, the Gallery is about to celebrate their 30th anniversary. Many of the wide range plans that Pauley and others envisioned the Gallery taking on have manifested, either at the Gallery or through other organizations in town.

“The more the merrier. I love it when lots and lots of creative things are going on,” Pauley said. “I never cared who did what, just as long as it got done,” she added.

Instrument makers, fiber artists, jewelers, woodworkers, painters, potters, sculptors, photographers, musicians, writers, and actors have all been attracted to Floyd. The same qualities that drew the first influx of artists in the 1970’s continue to draw talented people today. Today’s Floyd artists enjoy an expanded local appreciation for the arts, a variety of welcoming venues, and a growing interest in Floyd as a creative community that values country life. ~ Colleen Redman

Photos: 1. Spoken Word Open Mic collage. 2. Happy Wanderers, a sculpture by Charlie Brouwer at Over the Moon, inspired by a grade school song and a hike with his grandson.

~ Originally posted on Loose Leaf Notes on April 16, 2008.

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