Now on view in the Founders Gallery, Vital Force features the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley’s growing collection of twentieth and twenty-first century art. This MSV art collection is composed of works by artists who are from the Shenandoah Valley, working in the region, or depicting scenes and subjects of the Valley in their art. Other works in this exhibition are from the collection of MSV benefactor Julian Wood Glass Jr., a descendent of Winchester founder James Wood. Although Glass collected decorative and fine art from the 1700s and 1800s, he also supported working artists for most of his life. From them he commissioned portraits and paintings of his New York City apartment.
Representing 19 artists, Vital Force displays 39 objects, including paintings, carvings, and mixed-media works. They range in date from the 1938 portrait of Julian Wood Glass Jr. by his college friend artist David Mode Payne and 1942 painting Down in Shenandoah by renowned artist Anna Mary Robertson “Grandma” Moses to three works completed as recently as 2018. Several works in Vital Force are on public display for the first time. These include Iris Garden, which was painted as part of the WPA Federal Art Project by Anne Christine Fletcher (1876–1955), several carvings by Valley artist John Heatwole (1948–2006), and several paintings by David Mode Payne (1907–1985) of Julian Wood Glass Jr., his half-sister, and his New York City apartment.