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Boosting the arts, in dollars

SoVaNow.com / October 09, 2017
Some two hundred supporters of the arts gathered Saturday night to eat, drink, dance and raise $50,000 for The Prizery at the “Moon River Magic Art Gala,” featuring the works of more than 60 local and regional artists.

Guests viewed and purchased artworks and silent auction items organized on all three floors of the performing arts center. The exhibits represented a wide range of artistic styles, including a hand-painted dress and whimsically painted children’s chairs. Two exhibits showcased the work of recently deceased local artists, Mary Bagwell and Bob Cage.

Some of the artists donated their works for the show and others allowed The Prizery to take 60 percent of the revenue from the sale of artworks. Proceeds from the fund raiser will be used to support The Prizery’s ongoing mission to enhance the arts in the community.

Organizers for the event included Michele Ah, Marie Ketchersid, Frances Harrell and the Prizery’s managing director, Catherine Ballance. Ballance and her husband, Bob, moved to South Boston a year and a half ago from Boulder, Colo. Balance is the pastor at First Baptist Church of South Boston. Catherine loves South Boston: “This community is a hidden gem — if people around the state knew, they would be pouring in here,” she said. “Nowhere I’ve ever lived could an organization do an event like the Prizery …. I’m a little overwhelmed at how magnificent it is.”

Harrell, the art curator for the Moon River Gala, offered a thanks to Prizery staff, volunteers and attendees for making the night such a success. “We are so fortunate to have a facility like this … and it’s important,” she said.

Local restaurants Southern Plenty, Molasses Grill, and Bistro 1800 donated a variety of hors d’oeuvres complemented by the culinary talents of 28 volunteer chefs.

Event planning began in March, with a sprint to the finish line in the final days. Ketchersid noted the “tremendous amount of work needed to put an event like this together.” More than 60 volunteers worked tirelessly to secure silent auction donations, artists and artwork, arrange for music, set up the venue, and manage food and drink.

There was a vast selection of works to browse — from oil paintings to sculpture pieces to photography — and two of the most popular exhibits paid tribute to local artists who were renowned for the creativity before passing on.

Bagwell died on Oct. 1, 2016. Born in Halifax, she graduated from Parsons School of Design in New York City in 1980. She settled in Washington, D.C., where her artistic bent led her to create expressive portraits of children, adults and dogs in pastels and oils. Her work has been exhibited twice at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. Her family contributed a group of her paintings for display and sale.

Called by Virginia Folk Life magazine the “most interesting man in the world,” Cage died in October 2014 at the age of 91. A Halifax native, his sculptures can be seen all over South Boston as well as at his sculpture garden on Cage Trail. Cage remained a dedicated patron of the Prizery right up until his death. A group of his paintings hung in the Prizery’s Robert F. Gage Gallery named in his honor.

Another striking exhibit drew inspiration from the farm. Mary Anne Terry and her husband grow flue-cured tobacco on a 150-acre farm in Keeling. Ten years ago she started Old Plantation Trading Company. She hand-casts and paints tobacco leaves from any customer who wants to preserve the memory and heritage of their family farm. Her work is also displayed at the South Boston Visitor Center.

The Prizery receives financial support from Halifax County, South Boston, and Halifax as part of the Virginia Commission for the Arts matching program. The majority of funds required for programming depends on private donations.



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