Wed08272014

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Artists are the talk of the town at Montross’ 1st Friday Art Walk

Melanie Stimmell of Los Angeles and Anat Ronen of Houston were the talk of the town at the First Friday Art Walk in Montross last weekend to the delight of hundreds of admirers as they put the finishing touches to four large murals they have worked on for the Greater Montross Partnership for Revitalization.


The two women were still working during the Art Walk, completing a mural on the side of Carol Chandler’s Carrot Cottage to join those previously done over the past 10 days on the side of the Westmoreland Museum and Bridget’s Bouquets.  The artists also brought back to life the 1950s Coca Cola mural on the old Northern Neck Ginger Ale Building.

But they patiently put down their brushes whenever a local resident or tourist appeared, and happily answered questions and expressed their appreciation for comments.  “A lot of what we do is usually temporary,” said Stimmell.  “But this is like a scrapbook and there is something really special about getting to know this town and its people.”

“We are doing something to help them keep their identity and their pride,” said Ronen. “Whether it is a message or just there to be pretty, it gives us pleasure to bring something positive to the brick or concrete.”

The two women have been working together since 2010 when they were on a street art project in Houston.  “We do a few projects a year together,” said Ronen, who is originally from Israel.  Both women have families at home and sons that they miss when they are traveling. They were recruited for the Montross project by Holly Harman, the prominent local artist, who along with her husband, Terry Cosgrove, owns the popular Art of Coffee and arranged the evening’s wine and music reception.

Harman and Cosgrove have long been leaders of the revitalization effort in Montross and now are beginning to see the results of their long, but heartfelt efforts.  Hundreds of people showed up for the Friday event to visit a wine garden on the Courthouse Square hosted by the Hague Winery and to listen to live music by the Blackstrong String Band.

Well known local craftsman William Jenkins had more than a dozen of his exquisite handmade Locust Farm Windsor chairs available for inspection in the new portion of the Westmoreland Museum.  And artist Edward Headley, who drove a school bus for 26 years before taking up painting, had his oil scenes of Northern Neck beaches and waterfronts displayed at Eagles Catch Antiques.

Local students performed for the crowds as visitors viewed works by various artists on display at the Art of Coffee, Eagles Catch, the Carrot Cottage, The Westmoreland Museum and the Inn at Montross.  “There are still are a lot of giddy people walking around town,” Becky Nelson, co-owner of Eagles Catch Antiques and coordinator of Montross First Saturday Market Days said on Saturday.

“The feelings of hope and joy for the town of Montross are bouncing off of the fresh paint on the murals. There is a positive spirit that permeates the village,” Nelson said.

“The artists themselves shared with us that in their nationwide and worldwide travels they have never felt so embraced by a community as they have in Montross!”

 

Richard Leggitt

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