2019: Museum of Culpeper History – Permanent Art Installation

Trish Crowe and John Berry created a permanent art installation for the Museum of Culpeper History. The following article by Emily Jennings, Culpeper Star-Exponent, was picked up by the Associated Press and was published in The Washington Post, the Richmond Times  Dispatch, the U.S. News and World Report, and newspapers in Georgia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Idaho and Montana.

For museum, artist dramatizes scenes from Culpeper’s past

By Emily Jennings | AP
Dec. 27, 2019 at 9:08 a.m. EST

Museum of Culpeper History Director Morgan Pierce stands near the new permanent public art installation in the museum’s entry hall

CULPEPER, Va. — Gazing upon the watercolor collages just installed in the entry of the Museum of Culpeper History, you’re enveloped in a vibrant record of the region.

A viewer can get happily lost within a rainbow of images—historic East Davis Street, Salubira, Clara Barton, George Washington, lovely ladies in front of the Carver School, or a caboose carrying Lyndon B. Johnson—and much more.

The permanent art installation was unveiled just before the museum’s holiday party on Sunday, Dec. 15, in the front hall that leads from the Culpeper County Visitors Center up a ramp to the museum’s entrance. Free for all to see while the Visitors Center is open, the art graces the interior of the historic train depot at one end of East Davis Street.

“I loved being able to tuck in elements that children of all ages would have fun looking for,” said Trish Crowe, a Culpeper County artist who created the triptych of collages. “It’s a great introduction to the museum, to look for items or pictures featured in the museum in the paintings, or vice versa.”

The museum commissioned the artwork nearly two years ago after Director Morgan Pierce proposed the idea to its board of directors.

“I wanted something similar to artwork I had seen in the Culpeper hospital lobby, which had been painted by Trish,” Pierce said. “I really liked that style, and the idea was born out of that.”

Each painting includes more than 10 scenes or historic figures specific to Culpeper, as well as familiar features of nature native to the region. Progressing from one painting to the next is the Virginia state bird—a cardinal’s egg in a nest, followed by a baby bird and finally a magnificent, mature cardinal winging toward the museum’s doorway.

The finished trio of paintings—each 41 inches tall and 30 inches wide—is mounted on a wall covered by a series of 14 stitched-together aerial images shot from a drone by local photographer John Berry.

Berry said he and museum officials wanted to recreate the perspective one sees looking west from East Davis Street toward the Blue Ridge Mountains.

“We eventually settled on the view of the mountains from the Slate Mills area,” Berry said. “The view took in not only the mountains, but the beautiful surrounding farmland, and provided the perfect backdrop for Trish’s paintings.”

Berry and Crowe are both members of the Firnew Farm Artist’s Circle. Betty Thurston Jolliffe, the mother of another artist in the group, Jan Settle, wrote a song about Culpeper for the county’s bicentennial celebration in 1959. A phrase from Jolliffe’s song, “Culpeper holds tomorrow by the hand,” was selected as the title for the new exhibit.

“The song in its entirety is a beautiful ode to Culpeper,” Pierce said. “We thought that phrase was a perfect way to describe how this artwork can introduce future generations to our rich history here.”

Pierce thanked Express Copy and Graphics for its help with the project, as well as Village Frameworks and Gallery, and the town of Culpeper’s Public Works Department.

“I’m thrilled with how it’s all turned out,” Pierce said. “We’re looking forward to having everyone come down and see how wonderful it is.”

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