Petersburg Area Art League June Exhibits
Main Gallery - Rediscovered WPA Watercolors of Bessie Niemeyer Marshall
Members’ Gallery - Works of Southside Virginia Emergency Crew
Opening on Friday, June 10 for Friday for the Arts!, the Main Gallery of the Petersburg Area Art League will feature the once lost and now rediscovered works of local watercolorist Bessie Niemeyer Marshall. The Members’ Gallery will exhibit a collaborate show of several artists in the Southside Virginia Emergency Crew members.
In the Main Gallery, the exhibit “Rediscovering the Forgotten Garden” features selected botanical watercolors by a local artist, Bessie Niemeyer Marshall, that were painted in the late 1930s … and then misplaced and forgotten about. At the time, the Depression-era work relief program, funded through the Works Progress Administration (WPA), sought to document the variety of plant species being preserved in Lee Memorial Park, a wildflower and bird sanctuary in Petersburg. Bessie Niemeyer Marshall – a self-taught artist with no formal training, but incredible artistic talent – was hired to paint watercolors of the dried and pressed plant specimens, since the dried pressings were fading, but a watercolor painting would be permanent.
“Rediscovering the Forgotten Garden” features 20 framed digital watercolors painted by Bessie Marshall. Upon discovering the collection of dried plant specimens and accompanying watercolors, the Petersburg Garden Club has since learned such a dual collection is rare in herbarium art. Limited editions of the prints, stationery, and a book about the project, With Paintbrush & Shovel, will be for sale as part of the exhibit.
The Members’ Gallery will exhibit “Southside Virginia Emergency Crew: Artwork by Those who Save Lives,” a glimpse into the hidden talents of local emergency medical service (EMS) providers. The Southside Virginia Emergency Crew has provided continuous emergency medial care for the City of Petersburg since 1945, and many people might not know that these 911 responders are very talented artists.
The idea for this exhibit began when Maria Crafton – who has always has a passion for art – was talking with other emergency technicians on the crew and discovered their common interest in art. This is the SVEC’s first collaborative show.