Public Art Movement Gains Traction in Purcellville

It will take a public hearing and Town Council approval, but, if all goes well, the Purcellville Arts Council should soon become an official   standing committee.

Liz Jarvis could not be more pleased. She has chaired the ad hoc committee since last fall.

“I am genetically predisposed to the arts,” she said, noting that her mother was a fine arts professor in Charlottesville and a founder of the city’s McDuffy Art Center.

Elevating the committee to a permanent status “gives us more oomph,” she said.

Jarvis says the panel is having an impact, relating a recent conversation during which someone told her, “I’ve seen more art in Purcellville over the past couple of years than in my entire life.”

The town’s push to include art in its public spaces started several years ago with wine tastings and art exhibits at the Train Station.

Since then, the effort has greatly expanded—with four juried exhibits per year mounted at the Town Hall on Nursery Avenue. Penny Hauffe’s artworks form the current exhibition that will run through the end of the month.

“We would love to bring as much art to town as possible—art in empty retail shops, the Train Station, and we’re encouraging artists to participate,” Jarvis said.

The arts council is sponsoring the “Youth Art Month” show at the Train Station. This month, beginning Saturday, there will be an art show each weekend, when the Train Station will be filled with artwork by area middle school students in conjunction with Loudoun County Public Schools’ “One to the World” program to bring students’ art to the community. The shows will run each Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on Sundays from noon to 3 p.m.

The committee also will organize the arts exhibit at the Purcellville Music and Arts Festival in May.

“We hope that the arts portion of the festival becomes quite large,” Jarvis said.

The town’s Economic Development Advisory Committee has joined with the arts council in planning the “Painted Wine Barrels around Purcellville” program. Area artists are invited to submit their ideas for the wine barrels. A committee will select the best concepts, and those chosen will be given a barrel to convert to art.

“The wine barrel project is a balance of art and tourism,” Jarvis said.

Each barrel will have a paid sponsor and be placed in a public location after having been shown and judged at the Purcellville Music and Arts Festival, scheduled for May 21 at Fireman’s Field. In the fall the barrels will be auctioned off, with the proceeds to be used for future community projects. Cash awards will be given to the artists of the top three barrels voted on by the public. For sponsor information and artist applications, contact Michael Oaks at 540-751-0707 or

The council also invites area arts organizations to apply for funding from the town by March 10 for activities that will take place in Purcellville from July 1 through June 30, 2017. The town will apply for a matching grant of $5,000 from the Virginia Commission for the Arts’ Local Government Challenge Grant Program.

Funding requests for the Local Government Challenge Grant should be sent to the Purcellville Arts Committee, 221 S. Nursery Ave., Purcellville, VA 20132, emailed to or delivered to Town Hall. The Town Council will review the requests at its March 22 meeting.

The arts council also is preparing guidelines to help Purcellville businesses and artists better cooperate on displaying art around town.

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