A new Art in the Halls display featuring the work of Shenandoah Valley artists Carmen Crawford, Loretta Allison, and Ray Crawford is now on view in the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley (MSV) galleries building. On view through April 17, 2022, the display includes 30 paintings, sculpture, and mixed-media works.

According to Corwyn Garman, MSV director of exhibitions & artist initiatives, the Art in the Halls show was organized in conjunction with the display of the recently opened MSV exhibition Contributions: African Americans in the Shenandoah Valley and Danny Lyon: Memories of the Southern Civil Rights Movement, a traveling exhibition that will open at the MSV on April 2.

Ranging from busts of Rosa Parks and Frederick Douglas to paintings of family members, many of the works on view explore African American history, culture, and identity. Garman says that the artists and their works are also notable because Carmen Crawford, Loretta Allison, and Ray Crawford all began studying and creating art in retirement. The trio met in 2009 at Opus Oaks Studio in Berryville, Virginia, while taking art classes from artist and studio founder Gale Bowman Harlow. There, while discovering their talent as artists, they developed a lasting friendship with Harlow.

Berryville resident Loretta Allison began taking art classes at Opus Oaks following her retirement from career working in international trade for the Federal Government. Her professional experiences, travels, and love of gardening have resulted in a body of work that explores a wide array of themes including culture, identity, nature, and everyday life. Several of Allison’s Art in the Halls paintings depict cherished memories of family outings.

For 30 years Carmen Crawford worked as a system planning analyst in pipeline design for Washington Gas. After retiring, she decided to explore her lifelong fascination with visual art and discovered her love of clay sculpture. Beginning in 2009, Crawford further developed her skills as a sculptor and painter under the instruction of Gale Bowman-Harlow. Along with paintings, her Art in the Halls works include several busts depicting historically significant African Americans.

A professional trucker, Ray Crawford Sr. retired when severe illness forced him from the road. Just over ten years ago, his wife—artist Carmen Crawford—encouraged him to join her for art classes at Opus Oaks. Much to his surprise, Ray Crawford found painting uplifting and rewarding. Along with painting scenes inspired by everyday life, Crawford creates mixed-media abstract works. Granddaddy Paul, a painting of Crawford’s grandfather on a porch playing guitar, and Voting in Alabama, a painting depicting of a queue of African Americans entering a sugar shack to vote, are among Crawford’s Art in the Halls works.

MSV admission is not required to view Art in the Halls. Located on the first floor of the MSV galleries building in Lewis and Glaize Halls, Art is the Halls is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Beginning on April 1 the galleries building will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Many of the works on view in Art in the Halls are available for purchase through the Museum Store.

A regional cultural center, the MSV is located at 901 Amherst Street in Winchester, Virginia. The MSV includes a galleries building that presents permanent and rotating exhibitions, the Glen Burnie House, seven acres of formal gardens, and The Trails at the MSV, a free-admission art park open daily from 7 a.m. to dusk. The galleries building is open year-round, the house and gardens are open April through December. Additional details and are available here or by calling 540-662-1473, ext. 235. –END–