Colorful Paintings and Playful Illustrations Now on View

Winchester, VA 02/19/14…Contemporary works by two Shenandoah County artists are now on view in the Art in the Halls sections of the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley (MSV).

In Lewis Hall, graphic artist Thomas Julian Chipley has assembled a playful display of 14 drawings and paintings, while a colorful grouping of 17 acrylic paintings by Kay Ely-Pierce is now on view in Glaize Hall. Both artists are members of The Art Group Gallery (TAGG), a nonprofit cooperative of artists that operates in the Bowman-Shannon Cultural Arts Center in the Shenandoah County town of Mount Jackson, Virginia. Presented through April 6, these new Art in the Halls displays are available for viewing free of charge; Museum admission is not required.

A retired industrial designer, Thomas Chipley moved from Warrenton, Virginia, to the Shenandoah Valley in 2005. Born in 1941, he studied industrial design at North Carolina State University School of Design and enjoyed a career working in industrial and graphic design. Chipley has designed riding toys, radio-controlled model airplanes, technical instruments, and cases for power tools. His designs for riding toys have received national acclaim, and he has sold art to many publications, including Road & Track and Model Aviation magazines and Experimental Aircraft Association publications. According to Chipley, he “draws images from life, reshapes them a bit, and presents them just a bit inside-out and a little off-balance.”

Chipley created the works in this Art in the Halls show between 2007 and 2014, and most display his sense of humor. The artist illustrates his unique style in the colorful ink and colored-pencil work titled The Crosshatch Traders, an interpretation of the well-known painting Fur Traders Descending the Missouri (1845) by American artist George Caleb Bingham (1811–1879).

The Bingham painting features a French trader at the stern of a boat, his son reclining on a stack of fur pelts, and a bear cub chained to the boat’s prow. Chipley’s rendition gives the trader an outboard motor, replaces the furs with a pile of “crosshatching,” and inserts a puppy in the bear’s place. Several additional works in the display contain optical illusions and illustrate Chipley’s skill at drawing intricate lines. Chipley greets visitors and draws in The Art Group Gallery every Thursday, teaches art to beginners in TAGG classes, and writes the fictional column “Other Roads: The Ongoing Adventure of Steele McRench” for the Mountain Courier, a monthly newspaper published in Woodstock, Virginia.

A talented painter and potter, Kay Ely-Pierce was born and raised on a dairy farm in eastern Maryland and has lived in Shenandoah County for more than 20 years. The artist nurtured her love and talent for art while following a variety of other career pursuits: she has been a teacher, flight attendant, dental assistant, attorney, nurse, university instructor, and healthcare-law and bioethics consultant. She has lived in places as diverse as New York City; Box Elder, Montana; Metlakatla, Alaska; and Sells, Arizona. Ely-Pierce began experimenting with metal sculpture while in law school and started painting in the mid-1990s. She describes her work, and herself, as “bold, colorful, brash, dynamic, odd, different, funny, and slightly askew.”

The collection of paintings organized by Kay Ely-Pierce for Art in the Halls includes works she created between 2007 and 2014, several of which are on first-time public display. She painted four of the display’s large-scale landscapes specifically for the MSV show and borrowed other works from private collections. Several paintings—including a self-portrait and portraits of her husband and two children—are from the artist’s personal collection. Paintings of Shenandoah County vistas are among the new works in the show, as is Libby Hill View, a landscape inspired by a photograph that her daughter took in Richmond, Virginia. The display also features Stampede, a bold, bright painting of three horses, and several works featuring birds that Ely-Pierce was inspired to paint following family trips to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

In addition to painting and working with ceramics, Kay Ely-Pierce actively promotes the arts in Shenandoah County by serving as the executive director of the Bowman-Shannon Cultural Arts Center, where many of the works by Chipley and Ely-Pierce will be available for purchase following their Art in the Halls presentation. According to MSV Director of Exhibitions Corwyn Garman, the new Art in the Halls displays are the first in a collaborative relationship between the MSV and TAGG. Works by other Art Group Gallery artists will be featured in this summer’s Art in the Halls presentations.
(Read more on our Art in the Halls page.)

The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley is located at 901 Amherst Street in Winchester, Virginia. The MSV complex—which includes galleries, the Glen Burnie Manor House, and six acres of gardens—is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Additional information is available at or by calling 540-662-1473, ext. 235.