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Art fills Scottsville storefronts

Sandy Hausman

Scottsville is a charming town on the banks of the James River. It draws tourists from Richmond and D.C. on weekends, but with a local population of under 600 people, small businesses struggled. Post-pandemic there were seven empty storefronts on the main drag, and while some saw a forlorn landscape, Erin Root saw an opportunity. On behalf of her non-profit -- the Scottsville Center for the Arts and the Natural Environment – she applied for and won a $3,000 grant from the state arts council and began putting the works of local artists in each window. She thinks that’s more appealing than a gallery or a museum.

Sandy Hausman

"Even if they’re free, many people don’t feel comfortable walking into them," she explains. "They feel like it’s not for them. Whereas if you put art and design where they walk their dogs every day, where they get coffee, then it makes that art for them.”

The center provides a map showing which artists are on display and where. "In each storefront display there’s a label that says who the artist is and what the work is in their own words but also has a QR code so people can give feedback on the project," Root says.

That could help her to win another grant for future shows. So far, 15 artists have works in the windows. Some are abstract. Others reflect the area’s history and culture.

"These are really whimsical and fun and have a relationship to the river and the bateaus that Scottsville really identifies with," she says of one work on display.

And the show features artists of all ages. "Collette does the prints, and Addison does the painting. Addison is seven years old, and we thought it was a great collaboration between the two of them."

Sandy Hausman

These paintings, drawings and sculptures give the street a lively feel and this setting has proven profitable for some of those who exhibit here.

"The artists received a small honorarium of $75, and we also hope that people see the artists’ work and read their bio and contact the artists. We don’t take any commission. We hope that the artists really benefit."

The show will continue through the winter, and while some works may come down as storefronts are rented, other tenants like the look enough that they’re also featuring art in their windows.

Sandy Hausman is Radio IQ's Charlottesville Bureau Chief