Public arts advocates want to brighten downtown storefronts and raise money for future projects while they’re at it.
Starting next week, in time for the Aug. 3 First Friday festivities, downtown visitors will have the opportunity to see the colorfully adorned windows and shutters displayed in downtown businesses as part of The Friends of Leesburg Public Arts’ Windows on Leesburg Arts project. The works will then be offered at auction during its second Arts in the Alley festival Saturday, Sept. 22.
The auction concept follows on the success of the Town of Purcellville’s annual art auction which, over the years, has featured everything from decorated wine barrels to benches to Adirondack chairs. Artists add their own personal, unique touches to the piece, and they are then auctioned off with proceeds benefitting other projects.
FOLPA Vice President Rita Sartori is hoping that Leesburg can catch that same success. The ultimate hope is to raise the bar on the Arts in the Alley festival, a downtown event showcasing arts of all forms and bringing some color to the alley next to the Town Hall parking garage.
Acknowledging that the downtown historic district doesn’t allow for large objects to be displayed on the streets, FOLPA board members began brainstorming what art pieces would work in Leesburg. They arrived at the idea of decorated windows and shutters and began scouring area antique shops for good pieces to decorate. They found 30 pieces altogether, 15 each of four- or six-pane windows or shutters. FOLPA sent out a call to artists who would be willing to do a painting or composition on a window or shutter. Within a week, all pieces had been claimed.
Sartori said the pieces that have come back range from the whimsical to landscapes and just about everything in between.
“There’s a little bit of everything for everybody,” she said.
It’s a who’s who of artists behind the pieces, from Jeff Hall, the sculptor behind the Stanley Caulkins sculpture, to Kaeley Boyle, who is behind the recently approved mural project on the South King Street bridge. Other notables include Chip Beck, Jim Sisley, Chris Cooley, and Penny Hauffe, to name but a few.
The windows and shutters will be displayed or hung inside downtown store windows for passersby to check out, all by First Friday, Aug. 3. They will remain there until a few days prior to the Arts in the Alley auction on Sept. 22. All of the pieces will also be listed in brochures available at downtown businesses, and on the FOLPA website at folpa.org.
Sartori said proceeds from the auction will benefit future public art projects and give FOLPA an edge in having some start-up funding available earlier. Damewood Auctioneers will conduct the auction, which will begin at 4 p.m. Sept. 22. Arts in the Alley festivities will begin earlier that day at 10 a.m. and run until 6 p.m. The location for the auction is to be determined, but will take place somewhere in the downtown area, Sartori said. There will be a set starting bid for all windows and shutters.
Sartori said, much like Purcellville, expect to see an annual art auction of the same style in Leesburg for the years to follow, with a different set of objects to be auctioned off each year.
“We’re already thinking about next year,” she said.