Arts and Culture in Martinsville, VA
Cultural opportunities are plentiful and profound in Martinsville-Henry County, with the arts community well represented. Among the culture-based organizations and venues that draw rave reviews:
Piedmont Arts Association
Piedmont Arts Association believes art enhances a community's quality of life, and it has been doing so for half a century in Martinsville and Henry County. The organization, founded in 1961 as an affiliate of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, marked its 50th anniversary July 1, 2011 and will celebrate through midsummer 2012. Piedmont Arts Association provides arts experiences through visual arts exhibits at its Starling Avenue facility and in public art exhibits, theatrical performances by TheatreWorks Community Players, a variety of shows by nationally known acts in the On Stage! performance series and Arts at the Rives Theater, as well as educational programs for children and adults.
One of Piedmont Arts' newest initiatives, Studio 107, provides a communal creative environment for local artists in Uptown Martinsville. Artists have plenty of space to create and display their paintings, sculpture, pottery and photography. Many of their finished pieces also are offered for sale.
Another great place to find locally crafted works of art is the Southern Virginia Artisan Center, a gallery on West Church Street in Martinsville that offers area and regional artisans an outlet to showcase and sell their original folk art, photography, paintings, quilted artwork, jewelry, pottery and stained glass.
The Virginia Museum of Natural History was founded in 1984 and is home to more than 22 million items detailing the history of Virginia as far back as prehistoric times. The museum is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution.
Fayette Street Museum in Uptown Martinsville celebrates the lives and experiences of generations of African-Americans. In 2009, the museum opened to showcase more than 100 years of African-American history here, and one exhibit details 2 miles of road where black-owned businesses, doctor's offices and retail stores once thrived.
Fun Festivals Fill the Calendar
Residents mark their calendars for a handful of fun festivals focused on celebrating aspects of the community's heritage and history. Each year on the third Saturday in May, locals and visitors alike celebrate the unique history of the small town of Fieldale at The Fieldale Heritage Festival.
Then every September, the Bassett community pulls out all the stops for the Bassett Heritage Festival. The day begins with an unlimited pancake breakfast provided by the Stanleytown Ruritan Club. A hearty breakfast sets the pace for a day of checking out classic cars, enjoying live music and browsing among vendors with crats, jewelry, plants ... and more food! In October, classic cars and cooking come together when the Virginia Museum of Natural History hosts its VMNH Chili Cook Off in partnership with the Martinsville Cruise-In.
Bassett Branch Library
The Bassett Branch Library of the Blue Ridge Regional Library System has been called the "Best Little Library in Virginia" for good reason. Started in 1939 by the Bassett Garden Club, the 6,000-square-foot building on Fairystone Park Highway today has more than 63,000 items. Across the street, the Bassett Historical Center draws visitors from all 50 states and beyond with its extensive collection of genealogy records.
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