#Jaxagogo Friends: Artists and Businesses

JOANNE BELL: For her nature-based sun-catchers, Joanne gathers flowers, ferns, leaves and weeds to press. When dry, she may use paints, inks, or dyes to enhance them. Then she arranges the items between sheets of beveled glass, soldering with lead-free solder. She and her husband/co-owner and landscape photographer, Bill, show their work at Bell Gallery and Garden in Floyd, along with many other artists.

RON CAMPBELL: Dreamcatcher Meadows Farm, on a hillside in Floyd County, reflects a dream: to live in a log home in the Virginia mountains, “surrounded by country living, farm animals, pets, wildlife, and friendly people,” says Ron. His pen-and-ink drawings, acrylic paintings, and stained glass pieces are often inspired by local scenes.

PAGE CHICHESTER: Scenes from Behind the Wall exhibition photographer.

MICHAEL DAIBER: When Mike retired from an electronics company, he began to create using discarded items. He sometimes includes pieces from his lifelong hobby of stained glass. His lamps are useful, stylish and eclectic: the one he donated to The Jax 20th Anniversary Campaign is made of all brass parts that have been coated to prevent tarnish. He sells his creations at local fairs, to friends, and by commission.

JUNE DAMANTI: June is retired from law enforcement is now “actively pursuing the reawakening of my right brain.” Digital photography is how she connects with the world today. Her work has been exhibited in several art centers in Virginia (Jax included) and illustrates a Georgia-based life-coaching consultancy’s newsletter. June lives in Floyd and is among the artists seated on The Jax Board.

MARY DASHIELL: Mary’s “working relationship” with red clay has spanned 39 years, and has included teaching and showing in both North Carolina and Virginia. Clay animal whistles—one of her signature sculptural themes—stem from her time in Italy, working with potter Mario Scuro. She uses a variety of techniques, including majolica glazes, slip, dotting, and sgraffito, to decorate not only her distinctive and sought-after animal pieces, but also useful, earthy kitchen and bakeware.

AMITY DEWEY: Amity, a young studio artist and environmental engineer, grew up in Floyd. Amity’s dream-like acrylic paintings often feature water and trees, water creatures and fanciful portraits.

DON GEORGE: “I’ve always done woodworking,” Don says, but when he retired from GE he began building furniture and cabinets fulltime. “I’ve always appreciated the Shaker style for its simplicity and functionality, which led me to bentwood boxes. They are fun to make and allow the wood to tell its story.” Don is treasurer of Jacksonville Center for the Arts.

GLENDA GEORGE: From making doll clothes out of fabric her mother gave her, to raising fiber animals (sheep and angora rabbits) and spinning yarn, Glenda has “always found fibers to be tactile and fulfilling.” She is a self-taught artist in her media of felting and shibori (Japanese tie-dye), and creates wearable artworks reflecting her passions. Glenda teaches classes at Jax and she and Don George are among Floyd’s many creative couples.

SILVIE GRANATELLI: Silvie is one of the founding members of the celebrated 16 Hands, a group of hand-workers mostly based in Floyd County who began the “artisan trail” movement. “My pottery is about food presentation; it is made to bring foods to light . . . I try to create atmosphere with my tableware.” Silvie is also “interested in the notions of hospitality . . . and I view pottery as a vehicle of hospitality.” She’s a co-owner of Troika and, unsurprisingly, a superb hostess and cook.

RICK HENSLEY: Rick’s fascination for working with clay began 43 years ago. He studied at Kansas City Art Institute where he met and married another talented student, Donna Polseno. After graduate studies at the Rhode Island School of Design, Rick & Donna moved to the Floyd area in 1974, making their living with ceramics. Both are founding members of the 16 Hands group. With Donna, Rick teaches ceramics part-time at Hollins University in Roanoke, and also at LaMeridiana in Italy. Rick feels connected to “the need for pottery as an accessory to human social life;” he values “living and working on my own terms;” and appreciates life in a community with other clay workers.

TOM JONES: Tom, a resident of Central Florida, is a watercolorist who travels the country conducting plein air workshops at arts centers and in schools, and digitally, through DVDs. He regularly visits Jacksonville Center for a summer workshop in watercolors and has been featured on magazine covers and in books.

TOM LAWSON: For 27 years Tom was a lawyer in Roanoke, Virginia, and is former president of the Virginia Bar Association. Now, he combines painting—his subjects the female nude and landscapes of places he loves—with a long fascination for the work of Carl Jung. His book, Carl Jung: Darwin of the Mind, was published in 2008. He lives and fishes in Virginia and St. John, Virgin Islands.

SARAH McCARTHY: Sarah is one of the success stories from Jax’s early arts incubator program. Working from a pottery studio on the first floor of the arts center, Sarah built a base of devotees and a reputation while she honed her skills and technique. Since “graduating” from the incubator, she works at her home studio and experiments in a variety of shapes, glazes, and designs that continue to appeal to collectors. She also teaches a children’s classes at the local private school.

GLEN McCLURE: Portraits of Floyd photographer and showcased artist in The Jax’s first Curated Show in 2012.

MARCIA McDADE: Marcia produces widely-collected art in a variety of media, from oil pastels to textile crayons on fabrics. Marcia splits her time between studios in Cedar Grove, NC, and Stuart, VA, and is almost as sought-after for collaboration work as for her paintings. She has been a member of numerous arts boards, served as a panelist for state arts funders, and was a participant in the celebrated Mountain Lake (VA) Workshops organized by Ray Kass and John Cage. She has exhibited widely, is a juried member of the Southern Highland Craft Guild and many other arts groups, and is also an enthusiastic quilt maker.

MIKE MEARS: The maker of our one-of-a-kind guitar credits a visit 22 years ago to the CF Martin Factory in Nazareth, PA, with his fascination with guitar construction. Mike realized that “some of the best guitars on the planet were being built by young factory workers wearing Harley jackets and earrings (some of them, women).” Through years of reading about guitar design and construction, meeting suppliers, and attending symposia, he learned to make consistently high quality instruments. “It’s a combination of art and science,” he says. For wood to work well in an instrument, “you have to listen and let the instrument tell you what to do.” So far, he’s made ~300 guitars and repaired all kinds of stringed instruments. He teaches guitar-making in Springfield, VA, in Feb. & March of each year.

DAVID OAKES: (video music) David has been a passionate student of the guitar for 45 years. His earliest studies were in classical guitar, with a focus on Spain; he received a bachelor of music in classical guitar performance from the NC School of the Arts. He has recorded, performed live, done session work for TV and film, and explored fusions of music genres – most recently submerging himself in banjo music. His combination of a public-domain classical tune played by banjo enhances The Jax 20th Anniversary Campaign video for Indiegogo. Today he is a music teacher and Jax tenant.

JEANIE O’NEILL: Fabric, accessory, and fine artist Jeanie O’Neill runs a women’s clothing shop in downtown Floyd, near the town’s one stoplight. First-time visitors are frequently surprised by such a gallery of wearable artistry in such as mall town: the sophistication of the clothes (some made to order by Jeanie), the jewelry, accessories, handmade painted leather bags, and Jeanie’s colorful paintings decorating the walls are dazzling, unexpected, and wonder-inspiring, even for “Artsy Floyd.”

LINDA OSBORNE: Linda operates her studio and gallery out of her home in Floyd, VA. Her focus is on lampwork (torch-fired) beads and jewelry, but she also works in leather, fiber (especially scarves), and paper. “I enjoy combining natural materials in unusual ways to make surprising final works.” Linda also breeds gorgeous Great Dane puppies.

MARSHA SLOPEY PAULEKAS: Marsha, a longtime resident of Floyd, is among the founding members of the Floyd Artists Association, and has been teaching classes for Senior Citizens for many years at The Jax; and she teaches painting in other venues to all ages. Like many artists of the Blue Ridge, her work is inspired by the geography of the mountains. Her landscapes reflect the serene beauty of Floyd’s backroads and farms.

DONNA POLSENO: Donna, with her husband, Richard “Rick” Hensley, has worked for many years from their joint studio a few yards off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Floyd County. Donna was Jax’s 2013 Featured Artist, and is renowned as a sculptor in clay. She and Rick teach part time in Hollins University’s (Roanoke, VA) ceramics program, and at Tuscany’s LaMeridiana School for Ceramics. She is also director of Hollins’s “Women Working in Clay” annual symposium, and is adjunct curator for ceramics at Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke.

DENNIS ROSS: Dennis makes turned wood objects from fallen trees on his 50 acre farm off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Floyd County. Retired from his work as a physician and medical school professor, he splits his time between Winston-Salem, NC, and VA. Dennis serves on Jacksonville’s board of directors, and, with his wife, photographer Suzi Ross, takes an active part in Floyd arts and naturalist activities. “Wood turning respects the individuality of the tree,” Dennis says. He turns each piece while green, dries it slowly (a year+) and turns a second or third time to relieve tension and warping. “Each piece wants to be the connection to the nature from which it came.”

ELLEN SHANKIN: A potter for 40 years, Ellen talks of focusing her attention “on the unruly wheel,” while she works to create pots that have “strength and clarity.” Her “threads of interest” in clay are the elements of color, texture, volume and scale. She and her woodworker husband, Brad Warstler, have their home/work studios not far from the Little River in Floyd County. Ellen’s work is found in a number of museums, including the International Museum of Ceramics at Alfred, New York. She is a 16 Hands founding member, and in the last 20 years has taught at 50+ universities, art centers, and craft schools in the US, South America and Italy.

GRETCHEN ST. LAWRENCE: Gretchen, a member of the Floyd Artists Association, is widely known for her pet portraits, created either from a photograph or from life. She generally works in pastels but also enjoys the flexibility of pastel pencils, pen and ink, acrylics, and watercolors. She and her husband, framer David St. Lawrence, live in Floyd and she teaches courses in still life, wildlife painting, and pet portraiture at the Jax.!__gretchengallery

A. B. STRINGFELLOW: Best known to her friends as “Petie,” A.B. Stringfellow has been a working artist since the 1970s. She moved to Roanoke, VA in 1996, and with a group of artist friends, founded Gallery 108 in downtown. That gallery closed, after a long run, in 2012, but Petie and nine friends moved into their current working studio and gallery at 114-A Kirk Avenue in Roanoke (Art On Kirk). “I never tire of discovering new materials, tools, and ideas from fellow artists, instructors, and finished artworks,” she says.

RON SUTTERER: Ron is a member of the Blue Ridge Potters Guild, and works out of his home studio, Frog Hollow Pottery. His work is mostly gas-fired reduction and is known for its weight, beautiful earthy colors, and tactile finishes. He is a former board member of the Jacksonville Center for the Arts. Ron’s wife, Susan, shares his passion for hand-creating, developed when they were both in graduate school. While Susan’s creative work consists mainly of decorative items for home and garden, Ron’s functional stoneware and porcelain vessels decorate and are in use throughout the Mid-Atlantic.

ANNE VAUGHAN: Anne Vaughan’s wildly popular jewelry is conceived and created “from start to finish” in her Floyd studio. Anne Vaughan Designs was started in 2006 so she “could find a way to work while doing her first job—being a mom.” She showcases her work at retail stores, festivals, home shows, and in Floyd’s Troika crafts store, among other sites. But her retail website is refreshed with an entirely new grouping of her unique creations about every other week. Check it out:

GIBBY WAITZKIN: Working from her state-of-the-art “green” studio (Sarviceberry Gallery & Studio), Gibby produces her handmade paper artworks from start to finish with material from her plant- and flower-filled Floyd County property. She grows and harvests the fibers and flowers; then shreds, cooks, beats, and pours the pulp; then embeds photographs, pressed flowers, found materials such as lichen, and other treatments into the paper. Some of her works involve “painting with pulp,” or digitally printing black and white or colorized photos onto the surface of the paper. Her papermaking and bookbinding workshops are well-known and popular for beginning and expert paper-makers alike. She is active in Floyd civic life and is one of the co-owners of Troika Gallery.

BRAD WARSTLER: The first woodworking tool Brad bought as a young man was a lathe. Nearly 40 years later, most of his work continues to focus on turning. His signature pieces are bowls, turntables, mirrors, and lamps. His larger creations such as tables and desks, often include turned elements; yet always show an attention to detail and design not often found in modern furniture-making. Brad uses local Appalachian hardwoods and draws inspiration from Mission and Shaker furniture. A founding member of 16 Hands, Brad is a juried member of the Southern Highland Craft Guild and a member of the Round the Mountain artisan network.

NAN MAHONE WELLBORN: Nan has had a varied career in the non-profit sector and most recently was marketing director for The Roanoke Times newspaper. Now much of her time is spent painting outdoors in oils. Nan’s paintings are driven by an emotional and expressive interpretation of her interest in a sense of place.She seeks to make her viewers feel “as if you’re in that place, at that time . . . sensing the textures, colors, and atmosphere I find in nature.” Her work can be found in public and private collections all along the East Coast.

 Links to Our Indiegogo Campaign Businesses

Chateau Morrisette

FloydFest/Across the Way Productions


Red Rooster Coffee Roaster

Roanoke Symphony Orchestra

Worktank Seattle


Jax programming is also supported by

Appalachian Power Company

Union First Market Bank

Virginia Commission for the Arts & National Endowment for the Arts