We began the day with a walking tour of the public art centered primarily in Elmwood Park. The work is engaging and the park has a large amphitheatre and performance program. Roanoke has an active Arts & Culture program and, among many other things holds a competition for this outdoor sculpture show. This year the People’s Choice Award was given to “Ask the Fish 2.0” by Stephen Fairfield who also received a $1,000 honorarium.
Roanoke has a very fine Symphony Orchestra (RSO), one of the oldest cultural groups in Roanoke, and music director and conductor David Stewart Wiley spoke with us about some of the reasons for the success and popularity of the Orchestra. They have brought audiences a fusion of Classical and Bluegrass and a diverse list of guest artists. They do a lot of outreach to the community and have a partnership with the schools working with the school band, chorus and orchestra. David Wiley, a delightful spokesperson for RSO, is a solo pianist and has performed across the country; this is his 20th year with RSO. http://www.rso.com
Later in the day, a group of us explored several of the galleries located in Roanoke’s downtown. There are 15 galleries that participate in the 1st Friday Art By Night when the galleries, shops and restaurants are open. The Market Gallery (www.marketgalleryroanoke.com) is a cooperative with between 30-35 members. Sixteen years ago, in 2000, they opened because there were no galleries downtown. The Wilson Hughes Gallery (www.wilsonhughesgallery.com) shows international artists and also Suzan Hughes & John Wilson’s work. They hold 3 shows each year. Collectors Linda and Dorsey Taylor own LinDor Arts (www.FB.com/LinDorArts) and show about 30 artists’ work, some emerging, others well established with styles and mediums quite varied. The Aurora Studio Center (www.aurorastudiocenter.com)provides rental spaces for artists, dance studios, art classes and space for workshops, meet-ups, gatherings and classes. Periodically they have a pop up gallery— a 2 day art event where artists and craftspeople set up displays to show and sell their work.
Check back for another installment on my exploration of Roanoke