After three years, I am moving my studio, Blue Ridge Creative, out of The Jacksonville Center. For health reasons, I also resigned from the board but I hope to remain a member of the organization and a supporter of their activities.
The Center, located in an old dairy barn that once housed C.W. Harman’s farm supply operation and where I worked for a summer while in high school, has been my studio’s home since returning to Floyd County. We signed a lease in November 2003 and opened the studio on January 2, 2004, as one of the original anchor tenants. The other three tenants — Don Johnson’s photo gallery, Bill Crabtree’s artist studio and Chuck Line’s photo studio — left long ago. Blue Ridge Creative is the last of the original crew.
Amy and I have many fond memories of our time at the Center. We made many new friends and we hope those friendships endure after our departure.
Although The Center has not yet realized its dream of becoming an art mecca for the county it is an important part of the Floyd County arts scene. The Residential Crafts School, the first of its kind in Virginia, is just one of the many assets the Center brings to the area.
Floyd is gaining a reputation for its artists that rivals area’s long-held high regard in the Bluegrass community, but the county does not yet have the traffic or visitor count to support galleries that depend on walk-in business. Local artists too often must hit the road to sell their wares or work other jobs to pay the bills. Perhaps the coming downtown rehabilitation and the expansion of venues like the Friday Nite Jamboree and the opening of new restaurants will change that.
The Jacksonville Center has an excellent staff — Wayne Bradburn, Chris Shackelford, John McEnhill, David St. Lawrence and others — who work long hours against long odds and receive nowhere near the thanks they deserve. Likewise there are some excellent, concerned members of the board who bring a much-needed passion to their role. I wish I could have remained part of that group but a reduced work schedule mandated by a bout with pneumonia required I cut back on a hectic schedule of volunteer activities. I gave up similar positions on other boards.
Hopefully, others with more energy and passion will join The Jacksonville Center board and help guide it into the future. It deserves success and support of the community.