FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Montgomery Museum of Art & History to host reception on April 11 featuring local artists Nikki Pynn and Kathy Lowe, a new history exhibit entitled “Tending the Living and the Dead,” and “Creativity Enclosed: Reusing Historic Safe Deposit Boxes,” exhibit featuring nationally known miniatures artists. 

On April 11 from 4:00 – 7:00 PM, the Montgomery Museum of Art & History will play host to a grand reception showcasing the diverse talents of local artists Nikki Pynn and Kathy Lowe. The event will also feature the much-anticipated exhibit “Tending the Living and the Dead: a history of physicians, funeral homes, and rescue squads,” offering a poignant exploration of life and death in our area. Additionally, visitors will be enchanted by “Creativity Enclosed: Reusing Historic Safe Deposit Boxes,” a unique miniature presentation taking place in the vault of the Museum’s historic bank building. This multifaceted affair promises to be a celebration of creativity, heritage, and community.

Artist Nikki Pynn has worked in stained glass since graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University, 1980, with a Bachelor in Fine Arts, Painting and Printmaking. Her exhibit at the Montgomery Museum is titled, “Movement Brought to Mind.”  She was influenced by the negative space of various objects, particularly broken bike wheels, and began filling in the spaces between the spokes on wheels, and holes of sprockets discarded by local bike shops. Pynn was recently accepted into the Southern Highland Craft Guild and has spent many years perfecting her stained glass technique and experimenting with the layout and complications that come from integrating her choices of materials and moving parts. Additionally, for works in this exhibit, she has reached back to previous work to create drawings that are, in her words, “representative of accepting my chaotic mind and being comfortable with it.” Other drawings in the show offer the artist’s experiments in expression through body language and facial expressions. 

In her exhibit, “Solitude, Serenity, and Stillness,” oil painter Kathy Lowe’s use of contrast between light and dark and color are worth studying. Some of the landscape paintings exhibit almost photographic realism except that the colors are beyond what nature can do. Another of Lowe’s favorite subjects is lighthouses.  The rounded contours of these buildings make them seem three dimensional.  Says Lowe, “Creativity and the art of painting according to the artist, serve as a singular act of existence in making statements about the emotional connection to life and the many subjects that influence us all.” Lowe, a Petersburg native, has a background in science that culminated  in a career at the Virginia Tech Veterinary College electron microscope lab.  The art of electron microscopy contributed to her artistic talent. 

Our next history exhibit will be titled “Tending the Living and the Dead: a history of physicians, funeral homes and rescue squads.” Those who assist in times of sickness, emergency, and death form a critical part of any community. What is surprising, is how the histories of physicians, funeral homes, and rescue squads are closely intertwined. Ambulance service was a lesser-known part of early funeral businesses. Initially, there was little in the way of first aid provided by the ambulance attendants, but the idea of trained attendants traveling with the patient was championed by local funeral home staff who knew the need first hand. Medical, funeral, and rescue artifacts from Kenneth McCoy and others will illustrate the evolution of these institutions in Montgomery County, Virginia. Exploring how our community tended its living and dead is an important way to understand its people and values. As part of the exhibit, visitors will be invited to share personal stories and recollections of these traditions at 6:30 P.M.

Also opening on April 11 is “Creativity Enclosed: Reusing Historic Safe Deposit Boxes.” The Montgomery Museum of Art and History is located in the former Bank of Christiansburg building, which was completed  in 1964. The building retains many original features including the steel safe deposit boxes in the main vault. Reusing these tiny historic spaces is the focus of this exhibit. The museum invited fine artists, hobby miniaturists, and all creative souls to contribute small works for this show. The call sparked interest from artists across the mid-Atlantic and as far away as California. 

This art exhibit also features work from nationally-known miniature artists, Amanda Kelly “Panda Miniatures” and Blake Gore. Amanda Kelly is pursuing her Master of Fine Arts in Sculpture at Radford University where she also teaches. Kelly’s award-winning artwork has been exhibited in various art galleries and museums including The Museum of Museums in Seattle, WA, the Var Gallery in Milwaukee, WI, and the Olin Galleries in Salem, VA. Her commercial work includes miniature sets and content for clients such as Coca-Cola, Disney, XBOX, and General Mills.  In 2020, she was a finalist on the HGTV miniature competition show Biggest Little Christmas Showdown. Originally from New York, Amanda lives in Virginia with her wife and three cats. 

Blake Gore, a New River Valley resident, creates miniature art using a .15mm pen nib and minimalist canvases. Often drawing in a space of only an inch or two, he is inspired by the challenge of creating more with less. Gore’s miniature works have shown from Middle America to Manhattan and have found their way into private collections around the globe. He has partnered with brands such as Jo-Ann Stores, Monopoly/Hasbro, BLICK Art Materials, Sakura of America, Canson, Strathmore, and General Pencil.

This is a free community reception. Enjoy refreshments and food while listening to these artists, story-tellers, and historians. 

Media Contacts: 

Casey Jenkins – Executive Director; director@montgomerymuseum.org; (540) 382-5644 

Courtney Amos – Events and Marketing Coordinator; marketing@montgomerymuseum.org