When I recently met the Associated Press representative for our region, I introduced myself as a writer for the Crozet Gazette. “Crozet?!” he responded warmly. “I’ve heard that Crozet is becoming the arts hub of Central Virginia!” Concealing my surprise, I assured him that it most certainly was. Sometimes we can miss things that are right under our noses! This conversation woke me up to the exciting truth of what he said. Between the Crozet Arts School, Art on the Trax, the Crozet Artisan Depot, Second Saturdays, the Crozet Arts & Crafts Festival, Over the Moon Bookstore, Christine Kennedy’s studio in Crozet Antiques, Albemarle Ballet Theatre, the Crozet Community Orchestra, the Crozet Chorus, the Artisans Studio Tour, and the Barn Swallow just down the road—it becomes clear that the arts are indeed flourishing in Crozet! The Little Town That Could is brimming with opportunities to enrich our lives by creating, viewing, and possessing art in a variety of forms.
“One of the reasons we opened here”—owner Anne Novak’s third Creative Framing & Art Box store, after Art on Ivy in Charlottesville and Art on 12th in Lynchburg—“was that this area is saturated with working artists, folks that are experimenting with different media, folks new to the field, as well as those who have been doing it a long time,” said Amanda Smith, manager of Art on the Trax, which does custom framing, sells art supplies, and offers art classes for both children and adults. “We see our role in the Crozet Arts Scene as providing a venue for families to be involved in the arts, a place where children can be comfortable with learning about different kinds of art,” Smith continued. “Understanding art as a child fosters confidence, and shows them a new creative outlet or even career option.”
Crozet’s own Second Saturdays is a monthly opportunity for you to get to know many of the artists who work in and around Crozet. This inspired tradition was begun by Anne DeVault of Over the Moon Bookstore, and has blossomed since then to include three art venues plus ongoing art displays at Green House Coffee, the Crozet Library, and Old Trail Lodge. When she opened in 2010 at the corner of Crozet Ave. and Three-Notch’d Road, Anne began hanging new art work around the bookstore and hosting a reception to meet the artist on the second Saturday of each month. With the opening of Art on the Trax in 2012, the idea of a multiple venue “Arts Crawl,” modelled after Charlottesville’s First Fridays, was born. “We hoped people could have an outing as a family,” Smith recalled, offering an ice cream sundae bar with local fruit toppings at their receptions. And when it opened in the old train depot in 2015, the Crozet Artisan Depot happily joined in. “We see Second Saturdays as a networking opportunity, to bring people downtown to celebrate all the talented artists in our community,” said Depot partner Karen Yonovitz. The Depot, which celebrated its second anniversary July 1, offers cookies, popcorn, and lemonade for its reception.
The three venues decided to stagger their reception times so visitors could move from one to another on a relaxed schedule. Second Saturdays receptions are held from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Depot, 4 to 6 p.m. at Art on the Trax, and 5 to 7 p.m. at Over the Moon—which, after its move to Piedmont Place earlier this year, hangs paintings throughout the main floor and lounge area. As Anne said, “Come hungry!” to enjoy the variety of restaurant options while you bask in the beauty.
The August 12 Second Saturdays receptions will feature oil paintings by Meg West at the Depot, drawings by rustic furniture maker Joe Sheridan at Art on the Trax, and colorful, acrylic “hidden dimension” paintings by Tamara Murray at Over the Moon at Piedmont Place. Come out and meet the artists while you enjoy snacks at the Depot and dessert at the ice cream sundae bar before dinner at Piedmont Place! July’s featured artists included Lesli DeVito’s abstract and animal oil paintings at Piedmont Place, Pam Roland’s journal-inspired watercolors and collages at Trax, and Elizabeth Karaffa’s gorgeous hand-painted porcelain tiles at the Depot. Other special events are often planned in conjunction; for example, Meg West will present a slide show and talk about her work and experience as a plein air painter on August 12 from 2-3 p.m. before the reception at the Depot. She will discuss her paintings from Monticello, Skyline Drive, and the Blue Ridge Parkway, along with vineyards and many other locations around the area. Depot artist Marvin Rankin of Blue Ridge Dulcimers, who has been handcrafting dulcimers since 1975 using mainly traditional wood from the Blue Ridge Mountains, presented a demonstration and discussion July 15.
In June, Depot “Adventure Artist” Kathryn Matthews hosted 17 young artists, ages 6-12, at an Art Workshop entitled “Snails, Trails, and Tails” leading into the afternoon reception. “Kids need a place to hang out and be creative,” Matthews observed, “a place to make a mess. Art can be therapeutic for them. They relax and tell you about their lives.” To inspire you with beauty while you lunch, the Green House’s current featured artist is travel photographer Camilyn Kuhns Leone. Even our beautiful library mounts the work of a different local artist every 6 weeks on art panels beside the leisure reading area. This month they are hosting Katherine Easterly, whose oil paintings of nature subjects such as grapes, fields, and cows celebrate the rural lifestyle. In mid-August, the library will welcome Carolyn Ratcliffe. The library also has a current display about the upcoming solar eclipse created by librarian Amy Pence-Lanctot with materials loaned by Jack Koester.
Sharon Tolczyck, Artistic Director of Crozet Arts, agreed with Smith. “A solid arts culture grows from participation by the community—not just looking at it, but doing it,” Tolczyk explains. “I am passionate about what participating, learning, and doing art does for development of the mind, heart, soul, and being.” The arts school, located in the Old Crozet Elementary School, began in 2009 with 30 students and currently serves 450, from infants to seniors, with classes in ballet, guitar, painting & drawing, chamber strings, flute ensemble, drama, sewing, creative movement, and an expanding Twinkle Project interdisciplinary arts camp each summer. The Building Goodness Foundation, coordinated by Lauren McCraven with support from T. C. Cooper Construction and Montebello Excavation, recently completed an entrance ramp and bathroom to make the school accessible to the disabled.
So was the AP rep right in viewing Crozet as the up and coming arts capital of Central Virginia? The more I researched this article, the more I had to agree with him. We are surrounded by artistic creativity even as we dine, shop, read, and lead our daily lives. The passion and dedication of the artists and business owners I interviewed was contagious. “Participation in the arts nurtures lifelong engagement,” observed Tolczyk—and this community is fully involved! Art is ubiquitous here—perhaps in part attracted by the natural beauty that surrounds and inspires us all. Take a moment to enjoy the arts, crafts, music, and drama that enliven our community. As artist Lesli DeVito puts it, “Earth without art is just ‘eh.’” You can plug into the Crozet Arts Scene at: crozetarts.org, overthemoonbookstore.com, crozetartisandepot.com, artbox virginia.com.