Jan 3 Dave Petersen

Jan 3



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.

Jan 2 Tom Jenssen

Jan 2

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.


Dec 22 Emerging Leaders

Dec 22

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!

Reimagined art and history museum

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.

Give Local NRV

#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   


Looking Toward the Future: Growing With Our Community

Your support today helps us continue Growing With Our Community in the following ways:

Expand Our Footprint to Better Serve the Community

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.

Offer New, Cultural Programming to provide Dynamic Forums of Self-Expression and Discovery

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.

Community Collaborations to Create new Cultural Programming and Curriculum

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.

Interpret and Examine the Region’s History through a New Lens and Offer a Safe Place for Discussion and Reflection

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.  

April 7 is last day for museum’s old location


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 director@montgomerymuseum.org or 382-5644. 


– Submitted by Casey Jenkins

Press Release

50 Years in the Making: Celebrating old time, blues and bluegrass music

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

Arts♥NRV Market


May 20-21, 2022

Montgomery Museum of Art and History is pleased to announce the ArtsNRV Market on May 20-21, 2022. This event features juried artists and artisans who sell and/or demonstrate their own work. Our new format this year will include a fashion show with food, drink, and music on Friday evening. Reservations are required for the fashion show $35:  Purchase Tickets Here.

More info at artsnrv.org


Membership Letter


Thank you for considering membership to the Montgomery Museum!

The Montgomery Museum of Art and History is undergoing significant growth and change as we embark on a new journey to Downtown Christiansburg. As you may be aware, the Museum will be moving its operations to 4 East Main Street on the Town Square in Christiansburg. This move, scheduled for Summer 2022, will allow the institution to better serve Montgomery County and the New River Valley as a premier cultural destination.

In just a few months, we have raised nearly $800,000 toward our goal of $1.6 million needed for the move. The total reflects the purchase price of the property plus building renovations such as an elevator and ADA-compliant restrooms. We are very excited at our progress and hope to continue our fundraising success.

We have many exciting new special events planned for this year including 50 Years in the Making and Arts❤️NRV. 50 Years will feature a collection of talented artists from across Appalachia, all performing on the same stage at the Moss Arts Center sharing their talents in blues, bluegrass, and more! Arts NRV will be held at the German Club and feature a juried art show, fashion show, and silent auction. In August, we will also bring back a community favorite, Heritage Day in Downtown Christiansburg.

These are just a few of the many things we are excited about as we forecast this year. We are a museum “growing with our community.” As our increasingly diverse community continues to grow, so must we in order to accommodate and serve the region at large. We are cognizant of our responsibility to steward the arts, history and culture of Montgomery County and the New River Valley.

Your generous membership will help support the Museum’s ability to preserve history and present art to the community. This institution plays a vital role in promoting local artisans and celebrating regional history, while also providing a platform and safe space for community conversations.

I thank you so much for your friendship and support for this growing institution and I wish you and your family prosperity and happiness.


Casey Jenkins

(540) 382-5644