It was the spring of 1996. Ten artists met at a big table at Clyde’s in Reston to discuss the possibility of forming an art group with the purpose of both displaying and selling local art as well as bonding together to promote the arts in the Northern Virginia area. Several of the group had studied together in art classes held at Oakton artist Laura Bealey’s studio and several were Oakton artists who studied and painted at other locations, such as the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria. Together at the meeting were oil and watercolor painters, abstract and realistic artists: a real mix of creativity. All the artists were from the Oakton/Fairfaix/Reston area. All were prepared to work hard to put together a show.
The old Vale Schoolhouse was chosen for a lot of reasons. When the artists had studied with Bealey, she had used the building for a small student show. All members lived near the location and some were members of the Vale Club, which held meetings there and maintained the building. Thus the name “ValeArts” was born. The schoolhouse is ideally located at the intersection of Vale and Fox Mill Roads. The ValeArts Group, as the group was originally called, made plans for the first show to be held at the beginning of October 1996 at the historic Vale Schoolhouse.
The artists had a range of backgrounds. Many were art majors though several were not. Diverse backgrounds added dimension to the group. All loved creating art. All worked hard to present a show with a professional quality and common appeal to the neighborhood of northern Virginia.
The 1996 ValeArts Fall Art Show exhibited 10 artists that first year. The artists learned that their friends and neighbors welcomed the opportunity to see what the art group had produced. With the success of the first show, ValeArts expanded to fall and spring. Within the group, the membership changed over the years. The number of participating artists is limited to 9 per show, 8 permanent artists and 1 guest artist. We began to feature guest artists at each show to supplement and add to the the varied nature of our exhibition. Our hope was not only to feature established artists, but emerging artists as well. Creating a show requires teamwork as well as team spirit. Each artist has specific jobs to perform in the show process. The result is a smooth working show that consistently presents the best and most creative side of our group and guests.
Each show runs from Friday to Sunday with an artists’ reception on Friday evening. We welcome families and art lovers of all ages. ValeArts is local art at its best.
Laura Barringer, Diana Eichler, Meredith Hannon, Lorrie Herman, H. Jenna Klimchak, Linda Lovell, Kim T. Richards