Established regional artists such as Gerry Bannan and Sarah Hazlegrove rub elbows with pop culture icons like Howard Finster and Dr. Seuss in an intriguing gallery exhibit that opens Friday in an unexpected place.
Assembled by volunteers with North Cross School in Roanoke County, “Behind Closed Doors” showcases a cross-section of artwork owned by people with connections to the school. The works include pieces owned, and in some cases made, by parents of current or former students; pieces owned or made by faculty; and works by artists who attended the school.
The show hangs in the school’s Logan Gallery, which also happens to be the foyer for the administration offices in Old Slack Hall. After Friday’s reception from 6 to 8 p.m., the exhibition will stay on display until April 26.
The show is the brainchild of Sallie Lake, a 1976 graduate of North Cross married to a school administrator, with one daughter who graduated this year and another who’s enrolled as a junior. Lake consulted with Dorsey Taylor, co-owner with his wife, Linda, of the LinDor Arts gallery in downtown Roanoke.
“We have a lot of families that are collectors of art,” Lake wrote. She asked willing participants to loan favorite pieces to the show. “As I began to talk with collectors about what they would share, I also realized how instructional this exhibit could be for our kids. … Many invited me into their homes to help pick a piece from their collections, and this was a highlight of the whole experience for me.”
“One of the things I want the kids to understand is that there’s so many different outlets for art,” said Ellen McGimsey, volunteer coordinator and chairwoman of the Friends of the Arts group for North Cross.
The completed show, featuring 36 works from 28 lenders, showcases an immense variety of styles and mediums, with sculpture, assemblages, paintings, photographs and digital art.
The Taylors joined with a team of volunteers to hang the show this past weekend. They also supplied a painting from their collection, “Father Time” by the late George Solonevich, a Russian-born artist who built a home on Bent Mountain.
“Behind Closed Doors” features striking works by artists familiar in Roanoke art circles, such as Lucy Hazlegrove, Mary Jane Burtch, Suzun Hughes, Ann Bondurant Trinkle, Michele Sons and Gari Stephenson.
At the reception Friday, a number of the lenders will tell the stories of how they acquired the art and what the pieces meant to them. “Several of them have great stories to share,” Lake wrote.
Artistic director wins award
Pedro Szalay, artistic director of Southwest Virginia Ballet in Salem, received the Ann Brownson Award from the Virginia Association of Museums at a presentation Monday at the Hotel Roanoke, where the association held its 2017 conference.
The award honors an individual for outstanding service to Virginia museums. Szalay was nominated by Cindy Petersen, the Taubman Museum of Art’s deputy director of education and visitor engagement, who cited his 10 years with SVB, special dance performances he’s choreographed to pair with Taubman exhibitions and other cultural events, and the Dance Espanol program he runs for Roanoke City Public Schools.
“I’m really honored and humbled they chose me,” Szalay said. He believes that arts organizations need to work together to flourish, and he’s grateful to be recognized for acting on that belief. “I’m looking forward to many more collaborations.”