PAA has big plans for Harvest grant

Piedmont Arts Association Executive Director Peter Calvert

July 8, 2007

By DREW EARY - Bulletin Staff Writer

Big museum-quality exhibits, sculpture, programs planned

Piedmont Arts plans to use Harvest Foundation grant money to enhance its programs and bring bigger and better exhibits to the Henry County-Martinsville Area.

"The money will be used in various programs," Piedmont Arts Association Executive Director Peter Calvert said. "We will receive money for murals in uptown and throughout the community, for the installation of some public sculpture and also for our in-school programs such as Minds in Motion and our in-school theater program."

Piedmont Arts, an accredited art museum and organization for the preservation of the arts in the Henry County-Martinsville area, received a grant for $263,000 from the Harvest Foundation of the Piedmont.

The grants were awarded to Piedmont Arts by the foundation to help improve the quality of future exhibits at the association's gallery on Starling Avenue and also to aid in the association's outreach programs.

Calvert said that the money that will go toward some of the future exhibits will help bring "big museum quality shows to the area that the people here can appreciate and not have to drive to some big museum."

Some of the money has already been earmarked for use with a pre-Colombian art exhibit that is scheduled for September 2008.

"This money will help us bring exhibits like this one to the area and also help us show that art is not something that is on a canvas," said Tina Sell, the director of exhibitions at Piedmont Arts. "Some of the most successful shows we have had in the past have been the ones that focus on non-western cultures like Egypt and China, exhibits that are a big deal for this area but for larger cities they are just around the corner."

Sell also said that those kind of exhibits help show that every day things, much like the furniture industry, can be art for the future.

"These help people in the textile and furniture industries understand how they affect the aesthetics of the culture," she said.

The grant money also will be spent to help bring several outdoor sculpture pieces and murals to the area.

"We want to bring art to some of the more traveled areas in the city and the county," Sell said. "We want to put murals on some of the beautiful older buildings, especially in the uptown area, where we can sort of highlight their architecture."

Work on the first of these murals will begin in July, she said. Piedmont Arts will work with Ed Dolinger, a painter who has recently moved to the area and has mural-making experience, and a group of children at the Martinsville YMCA to paint a mural somewhere in the uptown area.

"We are still working on narrowing down possibilities for the mural," she said. "We have two or three sites that we are looking at."

As part of the mural painting, Sell said the children will work with a committee to decide on what the mural will be and possibly even where it will be located.

This will give the children a more "real world professional experience," she said.

Sell is working with a group called Tri-State Artists for the outdoor sculptures.

"We will have about 10 sculptures in the first year with the grant money and we will add about 10 each year for the following three years," she said. "Because these sculptures will be outdoor sculptures, you will see a lot of metal and other durable materials. I am also currently looking at a wooden one too."

The Harvest Grant money that will be used to enhance some Piedmont Arts programs will be focused mainly on in-school programs, such as the Minds in Motion and Theater in the Schools programs.

"The biggest thing is that we will be expanding these programs beyond where they are right now," said Barbara Parker, Piedmont Arts program director. "We will be extending Minds in Motion beyond just the city, out into the county to Sanville."

The Minds in Motion program, originally started in the Richmond area by the Richmond Ballet, brings dance to public schools. In the Henry County-Martinsville area this includes two city elementary schools, Albert Harris and Patrick Henry, and beginning in the 2007-08 school year, Sanville Elementary in the county.

"Our plan is to bring the participants, about 270 students, together at the end of next year on one stage for a performance," Parker said.

She hopes to expand the Theater in the Schools Program to include a professional performance. Parker said that she hopes to have a performance by Mill Mountain Theater, a Roanoke area professional theater group, next year.


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