Conjure up a trip to Williamsburg, Va., and history immediately
springs to mind. The neatly restored town perfectly chronicles
the early history of the United States, complete with docents
dressed in period costume and dusty wide streets.
And while it is very essential, interesting and
educational to 'live' history, there is another side to Colonial
Williamsburg. An exciting and modern arts and crafts industry
hides in plain sight in in the area.
My sketch of a section the quilt display at the Folk Art
Museum, I definitely took artistic liberty.
An imposing building off on the side of the town, set apart by
an expansive lawn, is the Abbey Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art
Museum. It is a large building housing many galleries but none
of the galleries overwhelm. They are just the right size and
contain wonderful glimpses in to the many genres of folk art.
At present on exhibit is an emotional and dazzling display of
African-American quilts. There are about 12 quilts on display,
each with a photo and a short history of the quilter. The ages
of the quilts range from 1875 to present day and are rich in
texture, color, pattern and history. The lighting and display
encourages sitting and contemplating the lives of the artists
and their dazzling quilts. You will be filled with admiration
My sketch of the delightful carousel in the Folk Art
Equally delightful to all children from 8 to 80 is "Down on the
Farm," an exhibit which follows the adventures of Prince, a
carved wooden dog, illustrated with bright cheerful paintings,
glorious hand drawn children's books and much more. In other
galleries the detail and history of a hand carved carousel
featuring a cat, a camel, an ostrich and a pig or doll houses to
take your breath away and keep you lingering far longer than you
The Quirks of Art is in a modern shopping plaza. Be sure
to check out the clever and delightful
wind chimes in front of the
store. Photo courtesy The Quirks of Art.
The exact opposite of historic buildings is the modern plaza of
shops where the irresistible
The Quirks of Art is housed. The cheerful brainchild of
entrepeneur Jennifer Raines is filled to the
artistic brim with objects to make you happy. I defy any
one to wander through and not burst out laughing at some stage.
The humor is rich, whimsical and quirky and I am not making
light of it, 90% the art she carries comes from some of the
nations finest artists and crafters.
Jenn Raines knows her artists and the work they do. It is
interesting to hear her stories.
It is a happy place for young and old, connoisseur art collector
or a just for fun, why-ever-not type of purchase. Don't miss
seeing the wind chimes outside.
Jenn Raines owner of The Quirks of Art arranges some of
Photo courtesy of the Quirks of
Not the sort of person to focus only on one thing, Jenn Raines
is a founder of the highly successful Winter Blues Jazz Fest, a
four day event held during the month of January. Although it
only has a couple of years under it's belt, the festival has
drawn large crowds during the quiet winter month with excellent
performers. One of
the co-founders is a chef, so there is the added attraction that
some of the venues include wineries, breweries or restaurants.
The 2017 festival is scheduled for January 12-15, 2017, make a
note on your calender.
Owner Beverly Burgdorf with some of her art in Colonial
Folk Art Museum
Folk art finds a home in the charming Colonial Folk Art Studio &
Gallery tucked in a corner of the arts district. Owned and
operated by Beverly and Davie Burgdorf, it is a combination of
their talents and inspirations. Beverly is an accomplished
artist and Davie has a passion for old books and maps.
The gallery is a treasure trove of some of the great outsider
and folk artists such as Howard Finster. They also have four
pieces by the late reclusive Agnes Robertson of East Aurora,
N.Y. plus they feature local artists. Beverly Burgdorf knows her
subject and her artists well and with folk artists there is
always an interesting tale to be told.
The studio space at Colonial Folk Art Studio with 2
pottery wheels in the back.
There is a large airy studio in the back with two pottery wheels
tucked behind a large table for workshops. Colonial Folk Art
Studio offers classes in mixed media and pottery - Ms Burgdorf
is an art teacher with a BA in Studio Art from Converse College.
Artists can rent studio time over a set monthly time or just pop
in for a few days.
For instance, if you are staying in a time share for a week, you
can make your own pottery piece from scratch and take it home.
"You can throw the clay Monday, I have it in the kiln that
night, You paint it Wednesday and I fire it again." Ms Burgdorf
explained. "And then you can take it home Saturday. People love
the idea because it's so unique."
And some folks stay for much longer and find renting the studio
very attractive. When I visited, Cela Laughlin of Michigan was
working on one of the wheels. I asked how she landed up in
Williamsburg. She told me they were looking for a place to spend
the cold winter months away from Michigan and saw the studio for
"It's perfect. My husband practices his photography,' Ms
Laughlin said. "And I
get to play with clay every day."
Cela Laughlin of Michigan works a pottery wheel at
Colonial Folk Art Studios
There are myrid arts events through out the year to enhance your
visit, from the Williamsburg Spring Arts Festival which runs
from end of March through the end of June to the Winter Blues
Jazz Fest. Also seek out other galleries and studios. When you
visit Colonial Williamsburg, immerse yourself in history - it's
hard not to, but also, do take time to search out the arts. You
will be so glad you did. And you might even get to throw a pot
on the wheel and take home your very own piece of Williamsburg
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