Hello and Happy New Year!
I am truly honored (and can now officially announce) that there will be a solo show of my paintings at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, Winchester, VA. Opening July 13, 2019 and running for about one year, the show will focus on my Barns of Shenandoah series. Various barn-inspired paintings from different stages of the series will be exhibited, and the Shenandoah County Historical Society plans to include background material on my inspiration: the actual barns of Shenandoah.
I am inspired by the landscape of the Virginias. The barns are an essential part of the landscape in Shenandoah County, VA and they have come to symbolize for me the intersection of Man and Nature. The barns of the Shenandoah Valley are on the 2018 list of Virginia’s Most Endangered Historical Places by Preservation Virginia, a Richmond organization of great repute and history. It is my hope that this show, as well as sharing my work with the region, calls attention to Shenandoah County’s valuable, historic resource.
Even though the barns are quickly deteriorating (more are lost every year) it is estimated that there still are about 1000 barns standing, including many in structurally sound condition. You can read more about the barns, and the historic survey that is being conducted by John Adamson, on the Historical Society’s website.
The nature of our historic barns makes them endangered. Their small size, their natural materials, and the disappearance of subsistence farming has made them obsolete. It is only because of the love and reverence for our barns and the hard working, pioneering heritage they represent, that we still have them at all. Case in point: they do not get torn down—they fall down. Built to last, they are a beloved symbol of a bygone era, hearkening to the Germanic immigrants who settled this land, most with the same names of folks living Shenandoah County today.
Furthermore, our barns are unique! The sheer density and historic age of the county’s barns are truly remarkable. If our community (with help from those living elsewhere too!) endeavors to intervene and prevent the eventual disappearance of the barns, we will have a unique, rich, historic treasure to claim for many years to come. If we do something, decades from now a source of wonder awaits—for residents and visitors alike.
I have a vision for the awareness, cultural identity, and philanthropy needed to save Shenandoah County barns. Barn owners need help, and a way to provide financial assistance needs to be found. The barns are historic, financial burdens to barn owners. Helping barn owners helps us all by preserving these cultural symbols of our county’s heritage. If we intervene, years from now Shenandoah County will be one of the few places where historic barns can still be seen. What a joy it will be to continue to live among those majestic sentinels, symbols of what these early immigrants wrought.
See you in July!