Last Saturday the afternoon sunshine illuminated the artwork lining the inside of the Stryker Center. On one wall, a vase of flowers exploded in splatters and wild strokes; another displayed geometric shapes in bright blues, oranges and yellows illuminated against their black background.
People roamed around the paintings and sculptures with cups of bright green punch and the soft sound of a guitar floating through the air.
These art lovers gathered to celebrate artists in the community at a public reception for the Williamsburg Contemporary Art Center’s 2019 Members’ Show.
“For our members to be able to show their work in a place like this, that is so central and everyone knows is here, is exciting,” said Ann Beard, co-organizer of the show and member of the Williamsburg Contemporary Art Center.
Annika Blake-Howland, a co-organizer of the show and board member for the Williamsburg Contemporary Art Center, said she was excited to see so many different members of the community come out for the show.
“If you look around, lots of different parts of the Williamsburg population are represented,” Blake-Howland said. “There are younger people, older people — some people I know traveled from surrounding areas to come, so it's nice to see.”
Beard said while the show’s main goal was to celebrate members’ work, the gallery’s reception was to advertise the idea that the center is there to serve the community.
“Our whole purpose is to promote art in Williamsburg, and there are a lot of old people who are doing art and getting into art but don’t know we exist,” Beard said.
One visitor who hadn’t known much about the center before was Olivia Bascle, a Williamsburg resident.
“I honestly didn’t know much about the Williamsburg Contemporary Art Center before,” Bascle said. “I like that (the show) is public and easy for other people see.”
While member’s work is on display for a limited time at the Stryker Center, it is always on display at the arts center, according to Beard.
“If people go over to our gallery — we have the front room, the Fireside Gallery, that has a lot of beginners,” Beard said. “People who before had never picked up a paintbrush and they can show their work in that venue right now.”
Beard said the first time she ever put her work on display was at the gallery in the center’s old building. She had a show with 30 pieces of her work.
“That really helped my career take off,” Beard said. “I’ve sold 50 pieces now and I sort of have a following — so people get their start with (Williamsburg Contemporary Art Center).”
While the art center helped her career grow, Beard said it’s mostly there to promote a love of creating art in the community.
“We want people just enjoy doing art, period,” Beard said. “If they never get any good, as long as they’re having fun doing it.”
In addition to creating art, Beard said the Williamsburg Contemporary Art Center a great way to socialize with other people.
“I’m only 25— I’m hoping to get other millennials involved with the art center and show them this is a really great way to enter the community and get involved in Williamsburg in general,” Blake-Howland said.
Want to see the show?
Members’ Show will be on display from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday until Feb. 15 in the Stryker Center on 412 N. Boundary St.
To learn more about the Williamsburg Contemporary Art Center and how to join, visit visitwcac.org.
Heymann can be reached by phone at 757-298-5828 or on Twitter at @HeymannAmelia.