In The News!
The Montgomery Museum of Art and History (MMAH) is becoming a draw for local citizens. An early reception in the new facility drew about 50 art lovers. The next event attracted 100 people, and the most recent gathering more than 200. The museum’s mission is to appeal to all citizens of all generations. For years the museum has reached out to students throughout the New River Valley and intends to contact them about future exhibits. The next art exhibit will feature works by students from Christiansburg High School grades 9 through 12. Led by art teachers Carrie Lyons and Taylor Hanks, the students have been working hard to complete their works in time for the exhibit opening March 2 and continuing through April. The students are responsible for framing the art and hanging it in the museum. By subject? By frame color? By theme? There are lots of choices, and decisions on how to display the works are part of the artistry.
Those of us who live in Montgomery County are fortunate to have a school system that values and promotes the arts. Some of the presenting students have taken Advanced Placement (college level) art class twice—once for painting and again for sculpture. Students who can’t fit art into their schedule but still paint in their spare time can join the Art Club and submit works for inclusion in the show.
The variety of media in the show speaks to both the program’s broad educational reach and to the choice to let the more advanced students take the lead on what inspires and works for them. For example, students made a still-life of a skull (à la Georgia O’Keefe) from the angle of their choice and zoomed in or out. The viewer would not know they were painting the same thing. The exhibit includes works in collage, gouache, ink, acrylic, watercolor, alcohol markers, and more. An intricate work showing a lush garden scene was done with ink and a dip pen, which is something like a quill and not the easiest tool to use. If you went to school before 1950 and the invention of the ball point pen, you may have struggled with one of these things. The MMAH exhibit also features some three-dimensional art including sculpture and ceramics. There are cupcakes and pancakes and fabric dogs and ceramic pumpkins and a piece depicting Disney rides. A rendition of a eukaryotic cell is made from beads.
In some cases Lyons gave the students a broad theme to work with such as Journey or Sustained Investigation. One journey painting shows a skeleton reaching out toward the path to be taken with a cat alongside as a companion. Another painting from the journey series shows a shark in a coral reef and kelp forest with a volcano in the background. A girl with an umbrella is another type of journey. A sustained investigation painting of Notre Dame Cathedral depicted before and after the fire features the pieta sculpture “Descent from the Cross” that somehow survived the conflagration.
Many of the paintings feature objects or animals precious to the artist. A deep sea fish painting is one example. Another artist painted a collection of her Bratz dolls sitting on a shelf, as in “putting away childish things.” One painting is entitled “Fear of Cats.” Another painting is of a German Shepherd that died. Another maudlin puppy picture? Hardly. This dog repeatedly ran away and bit his owner, leaving a two-inch scar. Still, he was loved and is missed, and now he is immortalized having fun with his owner in a lake. A companion piece shows the town in Germany where the German Shepherds originated.
Christiansburg High School students will host (another part of the learning experience) an opening reception at the MMAH, 4 East Main Street in Christiansburg, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. on March 2. People will come to support the students and stay to enjoy the art.
The Montgomery Museum of Art & History will host an open house on Thursday, Feb. 2, from 5 to 7 p.m. to launch two new art exhibits and two new history exhibits, collectively titled “Art x History.”
The museum will showcase a 1920 Maxwell automobile as the focal point on the main gallery floor. This extraordinary vehicle will be on display courtesy of Jackie Shelton and her family. In addition, the museum will bring back an old favorite, “Lewis Miller’s New River Valley.” Miller’s travel-journal-style artwork and sketches offer a glimpse of New River Valley history and stories.
On the art side, the museum will present works by two regional artists, David Petersen and Tom Jenssen. Petersen’s art exhibit, titled “Tranquility,” is a collection of local and distant “tranquil” places depicted in painting and photography, in color and black and white. Jenssen’s pottery exhibit, “From Earth to Stone,” features glazed ceramic with melted glass and painted imagery to offer the viewer a sense of wonder.
DAVE PETERSEN EXHIBIT
MONTGOMERY MUSEUM OF ART AND HISTORY
Tranquility. If there is a theme to Dave Petersen’s new oil and photography show at the Montgomery Museum of Art and History, it is tranquility.
Most of these tranquil places can be found within a 50-mile radius of here, stretching from the Smokies to the Outer Banks. If you have lived around here for even a short time, you will find yourself saying, “I know that place” or “I have seen that.” One recognizable place is the previous location for the MMAH, which was originally the home for a Presbyterian minister. But on closer look, Petersen’s work may show a place like Mabry Mill or McAfee Knob in a different light or covered with snow or even the feathery hoar frost, which only forms under special cold conditions, usually at high elevations.
In order to catch the scene at the right time, Petersen, often accompanied by his son Paul, also a painter and photographer, sometimes endures harsh conditions and waits for the just right moment. The pair often camp out and take a compass with them to determine where the sun will be in the morning. Early Boy Scout training comes in handy.
“Low Clouds Over the Smoky Mountains” required such persistence. The pair drove up to Clingmans Dome in the Smokies to do some photography. Once up on Clingmans Dome they were greeted with low clouds, heavy winds, and blowing rain. After waiting over two hours and with the weather getting worse, they gave up and started driving back down to the campsite. Just as they dropped below the clouds, they saw the distant mountains. The wind and rain had stopped, and there Petersen took a picture that became the basis for the oil painting in this exhibit.
The upcoming show features both oil paintings and photography in about equal numbers, and about half of the photographs are in black and white. Petersen has been compared to Ansel Adams, although the techniques used are different, as digital photography has changed the way artists work. Petersen’s photographs are often printed on stretch canvas.
About a quarter of the works depict scenes in the western United States, where the scenery is decidedly different from that in Virginia. Art works depict tranquil places out west such as Glacier, Yellowstone, Death Valley, the Tetons, the Black Hills, or the deciduous rain forest on Mount Olympus in Washington.
Dave Petersen became interested in art in high school, where he was privileged to study under famed local artist Walter Biggs. Another favorite muse is Richard Schmid, the impressionist or realist, depending upon whom you ask, known for his paintings of the west and the Hudson River Valley. Petersen attended Virginia Western Community College and Madison College (now James Madison University), where he stayed on for a master’s degree, not in painting or photography, but in ceramics. He decided not to pursue a career in ceramics, in part because the expensive gas-fired kilns available in college are not usually accessible to the individual artist. Instead, Petersen taught himself photography. Three years of technical drawing still influence his work, but he likes to loosen up when painting and leave the viewers to find their own paths.
Petersen taught high school art for twenty years and was an assistant principal in Blacksburg. After retirement and the forced isolation necessitated by COVID, he has found more time to pursue his art, more “growing time” as he puts it, or time to reevaluate where to go next. Half of his studio is relegated to photography and the other half to painting, so he seems to be going both directions.
Petersen said, “You can learn a lot about people by what they photograph.” So, Dave Petersen must be a tranquil man.
Dave Petersen’s exhibit will be at the Montgomery Museum of Art and History at 4 East Main Street in Christiansburg from January 3 to February 27. A public reception is being planned for February 2 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Montgomery Museum of Art and History
“From Earth to Stone” by ceramist Thomas A. Jenssen
After retiring from the Biology Department at Virginia Tech in 2007, Tom Jenssen returned to an undergraduate interest in ceramics. His creations are thrown pieces to which are added glazes, melted glass, painted imagery, and “appropriated” objects. “Good Dog” is such an example, where a jar totes a family salt shaker on its lid. (This won 1st prize at the Radford City Fine Arts Show in 2018). Clearly, there is a playful nature here, but there can be more serious intent in other works, such as a panther stalking through a swampy habitat.
The animals depicted in the current exhibit range from the aquatic to the amphibious to the terrestrial. Examples include a great white shark, sea turtle, octopus, rhinoceros, and giraffe. One piece even features a mermaid. In each case, animal behavior and habitat are depicted with accuracy and detail (well, except for the mermaid!)
To produce the images, a slurry of iron oxides, a very fine paint brush, and a whole lot of patience were needed.
The animal-oriented theme resonates from Jenssen’s career in biology and from an interest set early as a youth. His family rented lakeside cabins for entire summers during which the boy was never seen in anything but his bathing suit. Swimming, catching turtles and frogs, exploring with his dog — these were the activities that set the stage for his career in field biology. There were mentors along the way, like John Goodman (University of Redlands), Charles Carpenter (Oklahoma University), and Ernest Williams (Harvard). With their guidance and example, Jenssen developed a consuming interest in evolutionary biology, herpetology, and, in particular, the behavior of lizards. It was the latter that took him to tropical habitats in Mexico, Panama, Hawaii, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic.
As a ceramist, Jensenn initially produced pieces that carried a whimsical sense with a touch of kitsch. More recently, however, topics have turned increasingly toward literal expression, as Jenssen continues to explore the traditional with the unexpected.
Take a close look at the black panther piece. The panthers running around the base of the jar have the same musculature as the one on the lid, an object found in a tractor store. Getting the dark color of the animal just right took many layers of black clay applied to the surface. The panther images had to be carefully scratched into the surface of the clay. This level of detail is unusual in ceramic art. Notice, too, that the panther on the lid is not just standing there. He has a foot resting on a log and seems to be standing in shallow water. Panthers often live in swamps, so the panther is in his natural habitat. He is at home. The log was formed from red and black clay, the water was made from glass, and an extruding tool was used to make the vines. Attention to detail and authenticity is a hallmark of the artist’s work.
Tom Jenssen’s ceramic pieces are on display until the end of March at the Montgomery Museum of Art and History, 4 East Main Street in Christiansburg, Virginia. A public reception will be held on February 2 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Start off the new year with the Montgomery Museum of Art & History as we host a night of networking and conversation for young adults in our community.
Our Emerging Leaders Open House will take place Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at our new location, 4 East Main St. in downtown Christiansburg.
Enjoy appetizers and adult beverages on the house, and experience our new facility and exhibits as we share our vision for 2023 and explore how to better engage young adults in Montgomery County and the New River Valley.
This event also serves as an interest meeting for our Emerging Leaders Advisory Board. In 2023, the museum is creating a board of leaders aimed at enhancing the accessibility, involvement and engagement of young adults. This is a great way to start demonstrating leadership potential and gain experience to eventually serve on a nonprofit board while giving back to your community!
The Education Committee of the Montgomery County-Radford City-Floyd County Branch of the NAACP (MRF Branch) has organized the NRV Black History Collection of books and pamphlets. The purpose of the collection is to make local African American history more accessible to the community by providing resources to local museums. The public, students, and community groups can gather to research and experience local history through this robust collection.
On Thursday, August 11, from 5-7pm, the Montgomery Museum of Art and History will have an open house in conjunction with its summer Membership Mingle. At 6pm the MRF Branch will formally present its Black History Collection to the museum, including the newly created history booklets. The event will take place at the museum’s new location, 4 East Main Street, Christiansburg, VA and all are welcome for this historic community event. “We are honored to partner with the Montgomery County-Radford City-Floyd County Branch of the NAACP to make African American history and culture more accessible to all within the New River Valley,” said Executive Director, Casey Jenkins of the Montgomery Museum. Deborah Travis, President of the NAACP Branch, stated “this project would not have been possible without the support of the community. We are excited to make these materials available through the museum and embrace the value it will bring to our community.”
The collection was curated by the Education Committee in consultation with curators of local history museums, and with history and sociology professors from Virginia Tech and Radford University. This collection has come to life through the generous contributions of community members who purchased and donated books from a designated book list. Generous support from these donors also allowed the Education Committee to purchase and acquire rare literature and cover the cost of printing and binding of certain booklets.
The collection has two parts: 25 books that tell the history of African Americans in the New River Valley and the greater region of Appalachia, and 8 booklets that focus more narrowly on the New River Valley and the lived experiences of African Americans in Montgomery, Floyd, and Pulaski counties and Radford City. The subjects covered include coal mining, local education, slavery and segregation, massive resistance, and reconciliation within the region. In addition to printed material there will be QR codes to access documented oral histories.
Two sets of the Book Collection have been donated to the Montgomery Museum of Art & History. The following quotation is printed on the bookplate inside each book: “There is no more powerful force than a people steeped in their history. And there is no higher cause than honoring our struggle and ancestors by remembering.” -Lonnie Bunch, Founding Director of the National Museum of African History and Culture
We are so excited to welcome you back to YOUR reimagined art and history museum! We cannot wait for our soft opening on Wednesday, June 22, which is also Give Local NRV Day. We are accepting donations for Give Local through the 22nd. For more information and to donate, please visit https://www.givelocalnrv.org/organization/Mmah
Now on to the exciting itinerary that we have planned for the soft opening! Mark you calendars and bring your friends and family-9am The Montgomery County VA Chamber of Commerce will hold a ceremonial ribbon cutting. Breakfast items such as coffee and pastries will be served10am-3pm: A Bouncy House for children will be on-site in the back parking lot12pm-1pm (noon): A celebratory cake cutting will take place in the museum lobby. We will celebrate until the cake is gone! 12:30pm and 2:30pm: After the cake cutting stick around for Story Time with Joelle Kathryn Shenk with the kids! 12-7pm: We will have food trucks on-site in the back parking lot. 4pm: “Bonus Happy Hour” which will continue through 7pm as we celebrate our local member-artist who will display their work in the lobby. Wine and Cheese will be served.
#GiveLocalNRV We are so thrilled to be in a position to offer a $17,700 match for Give Local, but we need your help to reach this ambitious goal! This match was created by the support of the Board of Directors and 100% staff giving. To learn what your donation will support and to donate, please click HERE
Your support today helps us continue Growing With Our Community in the following ways:
As our increasingly diverse community continues to grow, so must we in order to accommodate and serve the region at large. As the county museum, we are cognizant of our responsibility to steward the arts, history and culture of Montgomery County and the New River Valley. Our NEW home at 4 East Main St. will enhance our programming and outreach capabilities, offering the community a gathering place to learn and engage with history and art.
By donating to the museum, you are helping to create new cultural programming that we can provide to the community. We have many ideas for new events and exhibits designed to catered to all audiences of our beloved community. Based on community input, these event ideas include art walks/crawls across the County, Native American cultural programming, literary festival, film festival, and many more exciting programs! Our new building can also warmly welcome and host groups such as Dialogue on Race, Virginia History Day, and state-of-the-art traveling shows and exhibitions.
In collaboration with many community partners, we are dedicated to sharing resources in the effort to promote, present, and preserve African American heritage and culture in Montgomery County. Through a partnership with Christiansburg Institute, we recently erected three storyboards on the Town Square in Downtown Christiansburg honoring African American heritage, which can be found directly in front of our new building location.
One of our objectives is to interpret and present the region’s culture and heritage, often through storytelling, public art, and history exhibits. In order to do this, it is critical to offer a safe environment and space to encourage dialogue and discussion, particularly to highlight cultural differences or elevate neglected voices in the community. We have the great responsibility, honor, and privilege to steward many untold stories that speak to the region’s heritage and offer these stories in curated form for public consumption and education.
The Montgomery Museum of Art & History, which opened its doors to the public in 1989, is closing its Pepper Street location to give way to a new chapter. Thursday, April 7, will be the last day the museum will be open to the general public at the Christiansburg site that has housed the museum for 33 years.
Through a building acquisition, the museum will move its operations to downtown Christiansburg, taking up residence at 4 East Main St. The new location is the site of the former Bank of Christiansburg, next to the Post Office and directly behind the town quadrant which now holds the recently unveiled African American storyboards.
“Once we close the doors to the museum on Pepper Street, we will take the rest of the spring season to prepare and move our physical operations to the new building,” said Executive Director Casey Jenkins.
“The historic manse has been a wonderful home to the museum for many decades but it is time for the museum to take on a larger space,” he continued, “one which will give us the opportunity to enhance and develop dynamic cultural programming, exhibits and displays. Specifically, I look forward to how the new facility can offer a space and forum for community conversations and dialogue amongst a variety of community voices and stakeholders.”
The museum will gain more than 12,000 square feet by moving. The historic building on Pepper Street is roughly 2,600 square feet, and the new building downtown is approximately 15,000 square feet.
The soft opening for the museum’s new location is scheduled for Wednesday, June 22. The day will begin with a ribbon cutting provided by the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce and end with a member-artist exhibit opening and reception in the evening. During the day, the museum will provide fun, family-friendly activities, food and beverages. This day is also Give Local NRV, a day dedicated to nonprofit fundraising sponsored by the Community Foundation of the New River Valley. The museum will be accepting donations for Give Local NRV during its celebrations on June 22.
The museum will retain the old property at 300 S. Pepper St. The intention is to lease the historic building as office use, while promoting the outdoor recreational opportunities including the community garden, which is managed by Master Gardeners.
For more information regarding the museum’s move and capital campaign, please visit https://montgomerymuseum.org/capital-campaign/ or reach out to Casey Jenkins at firstname.lastname@example.org or 382-5644.
– Submitted by Casey Jenkins
A Concert to benefit the Montgomery Museum of Art and History
Presented by the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) Christiansburg, VA 02/08/2022 – On Tuesday, April 5, 2022 at 7pm, guests will enjoy a live concert celebrating old time, blues, and bluegrass music at the Moss Arts Center at Virginia Tech. 100% of all ticket proceeds will benefit the Montgomery Museum of Art and History. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Children 12 and under are $5. Seating is limited and tickets are now available online at https://montgomerymuseum.org/events/50-years-in-
the-making/ . Tickets can also be purchased in person at the Moss Arts Center box office during certain open hours. For more information, call the box office at 540-231-5300. A mask, photo ID, and proof of Covid-19 vaccination OR a negative test within 72 hours of the event are required for admittance. The concert is presented by the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) with additional financial support provided by: Stateson Homes, Duncan Automotive Network, Virginia Tech Foundation Inc., David and Judie Reemsnyder, Blue Ridge Beverage, Holiday Inn Express and Suites Christiansburg, Asset Solutions Corp., Shelter Alternatives, FocusOne Integrated Financial Planning, and the Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center. Montgomery County native, Jack Hinshelwood, is the concert host. He brings together 12 remarkable artists who are releasing a new recording containing 22 tracks from their recent collaboration to celebrate three distinct but connected musical traditions – bluegrass, old time, and blues. The concert will feature recognized masters of these music forms including Phil Wiggins, Rob Ickes, Trey Hensley, Butch Robins, Ivy Phillips, Scott Freeman, Jacob Eller, Debbie Yates, Sandy Shortridge, and Jack Hinshelwood as host. A special feature of the concert includes
performances by two European artists, uilleann piper, Ronan Browne from Ireland and euphonium maestro Steven Mead from England, performing via YouTube