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Market Art Chef Mosaic
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Civic Center Sculpture
Rodney Carroll’s sculpture at the Roanoke Civic Center extends a welcome to visitors.
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Hollins Lobby Artwork
James McGarrell’s “Holbein Inventions” hangs in Hollins University’s Eleanor D. Wilson Museum.
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Market Art Mosaic
Among the new features of the City Market Building are entryway mosaics.
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Market Art Building
The mosaics at the City Market Building all carry Roanoke themes.
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Market Art Music Mosaic
Mountain music is the theme of one of Cheryl Foster’s Market Building mosaics.
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Alice Aycock’s “The Solar Wind”is near Roanoke College’s science building.
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Market Art Chef Mosaic
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Bike Rack Nine
“Bike Rack # 9,” by John Wilson″sits next to Wachovia Plaza on Salem Avenue.
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Bin Danh Artwork
Bin Dahn’s work, at Hollins, explores the history of Southeast Asia, ca. 1950-1975.
It’s free, it’s enlightening and it’s a growing part of the Roanoke Valley experience. And all you have to do is show up and take a look.
During World War II London was suffering as German bombers tried to bomb the English into submission. The National Gallery of Art in London frantically removed its masterpieces to the countryside to assure their survival.
But then something amazing happened. Londoners rose up and demanded that the art be returned! To them, the art provided a way to escape the horrors of war; it represented a civilizing force at a very uncivil time. The National Gallery conceded and brought back a masterpiece for Londoners to enjoy. The art then rotated through the museum, so if the museum was struck by a German bomb the majority of the collection would still be safe.
Art is an important part of our lives. While Roanoke is certainly not suffering as did London during World War II, we nonetheless all have stressors. Public art truly enhances our lives, and the following provides a brief overview of the public art in which we as citizens of the Roanoke Valley should take pride and the time to enjoy.
The Eleanor D. Wilson Museum, Hollins University
Points of Interest:
• The museum attempts to show that art has many layers; mathematics comes to bear on a work’s composition just as much as socio-historic forces possibly shaped the overall theme and subject of the work.
• The Frances J. Niederer Artist-In Residence Program allows the art department and museum to bring in a nationally renowned contemporary artist to Hollins for the spring semester each year.
• If you wish to explore other works from the permanent collection, contact the museum and set up an appointment. The museum has a viewing room where works of art can be displayed upon request.
• The museum has in its permanent collection two works by Bin Dahn, the American-Vietnamese artist whose works explore the history of Southeast Asia from ca. 1950-1975, and how that period continues to shape the region’s culture.
• Known for the “Christy women” he depicted in the late 19th century and during World War I, as well as for the depiction of the signing of the Constitution that hangs in the nation’s Capital, Howard Chandler Christy’s work is in the museum.
Olin Hall Galleries, Roanoke College
Points of Interest:
• The galleries hold numerous temporary exhibitions throughout the year which are free.
• The galleries have a respectable permanent collection which the public can view. Visitors can even set up a tour of the campus in order to see works from the permanent collection that have been distributed around campus, all at no cost.
• “Reading Garden #1,” by Siah Armajani, is a sculpture found on the campus that symbolically suggests the most important activity that can occur on a college campus: reading and research! Being a reading garden where viewers can actually become a part of the work as they sit and read, it is almost suggesting that within the work knowledge is planted and will grow within the space.
• Alice Aycock’s “The Solar Wind” which is a massive sculpture that has an industrial feel to it. The work is academic as it is located near the college’s science building. The work alludes to the history of technology and how technology impacts our lives.
City of Roanoke’s Public Art Program
Points of Interest:
• One of the more important players in helping shape the aesthetic landscape of Roanoke is Susan Jennings, arts and culture coordinator for the city.
• A committee helped identify what type of art the city would purchase, which overwhelmingly wanted the city to procure contemporary art that has a cutting edge.
• The Reading Garden at Gainsboro Library is one of the grander works in the city’s permanent collection. The artist, Madeline Wiener, reacted to community input and held numerous workshops that were open to the public. When you explore the words that she sandblasted onto the books in the garden, you are reading words put forth by fellow Roanokers. Some of the titles found on the books are books by African-American authors that at one time were banned.
• With the renovation of the Market Building, the city brought in Cheryl Foster from Maryland to design four mosaic works related to the history of the Market Building and Roanoke. While Foster designed the mosaics and helped with installation, she by no means completed the installation by herself. She worked with others from the community in order to get input on the design and with fabrication.
• And don’t miss Roanoke’s collection of outdoor sculpture. For details: artinroanoke.org/
So you’re still reading?
Seriously – get out there and explore the great art the Roanoke Valley has to offer! There are so many opportunities in the region to view some wonderful works of art at a price that can’t be beat. Yes, the works in private museums such as the Taubman Museum of Art are worth exploring, but don’t forget that a weekend could be filled with an amazing arts experience for no cost.
More Public Art!
Be sure to explore these other great artistic resources in or not far from Roanoke:
• Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute – medicine and art have a long history together, and this newest educational collaboration keeps that tradition alive as local artists have works on display at the Institute.
• The numerous downtown Roanoke galleries – take advantage of the art galleries in the downtown area. Stroll from one to the next and view some beautiful works of art, many by local artists. If one grabs you, buy it.
• Exercise your body and soul by participating in Art by Bike. Grab your bike and follow a predetermined route found here: bikeroanoke.com/routes/rte_artbybike.pdf in order to enjoy some outdoor sculptures.
• Explore art the first Friday of every month during Art by Night. Galleries throughout the downtown Roanoke area are open from 5 to 9 p.m. Go to roanokeartbynight.com to learn more.