(Virginia Beach, VA) March 14, 2019 — The ViBe Creative District announced today that Virginia Beach Art Center, new home of The Artists Gallery, will open its first exhibition this Friday in their newly expanded Virginia Beach Art Center located at 532 Virginia Beach Blvd.
The exhibition titled “Imagine” will feature the collective imaginations of the 45+ artists have made the new location a reality. The opening is scheduled for Friday, March 15th from 6:30-8:30 pm and will be the public’s first opportunity to view the new building, see the expanded artist studios, meet with new resident artists, and explore the pottery studio.
Thirty years have passed since the Artists Gallery was created and first opened its doors above a Chinese Restaurant on 24th Street at the Oceanfront. Constance Fahey, the founder and current director, said, “The premise was to create an affordable space for artists to work, share the expenses of advertising and rent, and display and sell their art.”
The groups of artists spent 17 years at the Oceanfront when suddenly, the building was sold with no notice. Shocked, the artists were forced to put their things in storage and searched for another spot. Fahey shared, “The Shadowlawn Community Association welcomed us, and the Norfolk Avenue building gave us more space and more visibility.” With that move came more artists interested in participating and years of steady growth. In recent years, openings for exhibits drew a shoulder to shoulder crowd that often left guests searching for parking along Norfolk Avenue. As the Artist Gallery outgrew its space and the ViBe Creative District was established a few blocks North, ideas of relocating to the central beach district began to flourish.
Working with former City Councilmen John Uhrin and under guidance of the Office of Cultural Affairs, the Artists Gallery began pursing property in the ViBe District. Around the same time, the City of Virginia Beach’s Parks and Recreation pottery program, which began in the 1970s needed to find a new home due to issues with its facility. Discussions began about the opportunity to merge the two groups of artists into a new location.
“Concurrently,” said board member Maggie Kerrigan, “The Artists Gallery created the sister organization Virginia Beach Art Center, to attain non-profit status and focus on an educational mission.” VBAC was the missing educational compliment to the long-standing artists’ cooperative. “It became obvious that the non-profit was going to be key in being able to raise the funds to secure a large enough space to both expand The Artists Gallery and incorporate the pottery program,” said Kerrigan.
After several years, a willing partner and community minded property owner, Brian Jones agreed to support the cause. “My family has owned property on 17th Street for decades—I grew up here and hope to pass this property on to my son one day,” said Jones. “We are supporting The Artists Gallery and the ViBe District because we know it’s a good thing for our community.”
After over 4 months of construction, the artists were handed the keys to the new space on Thursday, March 7th and moved in during the last week. The first exhibition is currently being hung by long time gallery manager and fellow artist Vinnie Bumatay.
”Our story is one of people with a passion coming in contact with a caring city government and community supporting our project,” said Jean Rawls, Board President and lead fundraiser. Over $300,000 has been raised in a little over a year. “We have enormous appreciation for the confidence our campaign donors have shown by supporting this project financially.”
Architectural Assets of the New Location:
The new Virginia Beach Arts Center was designed by architect Jeremy Maloney of Altruistic Design and built out by Ringenberg Construction. Details of the new space:
- The project was an adaptive reuse of an old office warehouse building originally built in the 1940s
- Total Renovation Area: 6,438 sf
- Pottery Studio: 1,948 sf
- The Artists Gallery: 3,647 sf
- The Brock Gallery: 843 sf
- Mulit-purpose Classroom: 400 sf
- There are 9 formal studio spaces that will house approximately 17-20 artists
- There is a 400sf multi-purpose room that will be used for classes, large scale work area, and touchdown space for other artists.
- The main corridor that connects the Brock Gallery on 17thStreet to the Pottery Studio located on the 17 ½ Street side was designed to function as a “processional gallery” displaying all of the in-house artists’ work. It is 10’-3” wide and will have movable display walls that can help reconfigure the space as needed in the future
- The pottery studio will have 6-8 large kilns. There will be 12 pottery wheels
Welcoming the public to this newest creative space in the ViBe
“IMAGINE” opens Friday, March 15, 2019 with a reception free and open to the public from 6:30-8:30 p.m. In the exhibition, artists are challenged to reach beyond reality into the world of the imagination –– the special province of art, whether painting, photography or sculpture. Refreshments will be served and many participating artists will attend. The exhibit will be on view through March.
The Virginia Beach Art Center offers art exhibitions, art classes and pottery classes in a fully equipped new center located at 532 Virginia Beach Boulevard. Free parking is available, and hours are from 10 a.m. through 5 p.m., Tuesday–Friday; 10 a.m. through 4 p.m. on Saturdays and 12 p.m. to 4 p.m, on Sundays.
The Artists Gallery provides space for working, exhibiting and showcasing original fine art by local and regional artists.
About The Artist Gallery at the Virginia Beach Art Center
The Virginia Beach Art Center is a volunteer-run organization formed to provide an educational and supportive environment that inspires people of all ages and skill levels to experience, engage with and create art. The VBAC fulfills this mission by bringing together The Artists Gallery, the Pottery Program, Exhibitions and Classes with a full program of events and activities to engage the community.
History of Artists Gallery Cooperative
In 1987, seven local artists created an informal cooperative in order to affordably share the expenses of leasing studio and gallery space. Two years later, they incorporated to become The Artists Gallery cooperative for local artists. Over the next 29 years, under the direction of Constance Fahey, they continued to grow and thrive. As they continue to succeed, there is the need to further expand, increasing the number of studios and exhibition spaces offered so that more artists can participate.
History of Pottery Program
Elaine Goulart began the pottery program in the late 1970s by teaching a class for the city’s Parks and Recreation department. Elaine and a team of instructors slowly built a robust program of classes. They gradually added wheels, kilns and other equipment, often purchasing it with money raised by sales of their own works. The city is now in the process of razing the building that housed the program. Rather than allow this treasure to dissolve, the Virginia Beach Art Center is adopting the program to ensure its continued success.
About the ViBe Creative District Nonprofit:
The ViBe Creative District nonprofit is a 501c3 that exists to promote, support, connect, and inspire the creative industries to boost our local economy, grow jobs, and enhance our quality of life. It works to create and revive economic vibrancy in our neighborhood with a remarkable local vibe. Additionally, ViBe strives to enhance a place of discovery for locals and visitors along with economic vitality to meet the City of Virginia Beach’s vision for a quality resort destination. For more information on us please visit www.ViBeCreativeDistrict.org, email info@ViBeCreativeDistrict.org, call 757-202-9533, or follow ViBe Creative District on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ViBeCreativeDistrict and Instagram at www.instagram.com/thevibecreativedistrict/