WINCHESTER – A new art gallery space with a household name will welcome shoppers at a launch event this weekend at the Loudoun Steet shopping center in Winchester.

The Purple Fern, which was once known as a local shop, has transformed into an art gallery, learning space and photography studio. Owner Sarah Garman is preparing a newly renovated location at 3 S. Loudoun St. to welcome the public for a special exhibit experience featuring the mixed media artwork of Shenandoah Valley native and current resident Julia Mae Bancroft from DC. The weekend event kicks off today with an invitation-only viewing. Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., the public is invited to discover the purple fern, admire the Bancroft collection, purchase a work, interact with the artist or simply enjoy the experience.

Bancroft’s collection of works, described as “inspired by the natural world and infused with material ideas ranging from photography, papers and fabrics to insects and plant life”, will be expertly displayed and for sale in the gallery for only three days. Sarah Garman’s brother-in-law, Corwyn Garman of Experience Art & Exhibitions, works side-by-side with her to organize the space and create a cohesive gallery experience.

Thirty pieces make up the pop-up collection. “It will be fast, new and then gone. People will have to act,” Corwyn says. Bancroft will be on hand to talk about his art. Each piece comes with a certificate of authenticity.

However, it’s not just about selling stuff, according to Sarah and Corwyn. They want artists to feel comfortable coming into the gallery to note how their work might be presented professionally in the future. “As an artist, I’ve felt this jitters and jitters before when I’ve shown my work to others,” Sarah says. “We want to train artists and help them feel comfortable.”

The Purple Fern Gallery also serves as Sarah’s professional photography studio, in addition to an art education space. Corwyn says guest artists might note how well Sarah has a knack for “seeing optics.” His attention to detail and lighting as a photographer, in addition to his experience as an art teacher in Frederick County and Martinsburg, West Virginia, enhances his ability to bring out the best in an artist’s collection, according to Corwyn.

Corwyn is no stranger to curating art, working with artists and building community in the area. He spent 18 years as Director of Exhibitions and Initiatives at the Shenandoah Valley Museum in Winchester in addition to serving on the Shenandoah Valley Arts Council and the Old Town Development Council.

“A gallery space like this is where you can really help artists,” says Corwyn. “We’ll allow them to profit from the sale of their pieces without additional people in the middle taking cuts. Plus, says Corwyn, “you can customize each gallery’s experience to highlight the strengths of the gallery. “artist. It’s a living space. One’s relationship with that piece is an experience, not a retail one.”

The Purple Fern Gallery exhibits are meant to be a sensory experience. Sarah says everything is customized for the patron, the artist and the art for a given gallery exhibition – from the lighting to the specific aroma of a carefully chosen essential oil that floats through the gallery and integrates with the atmosphere of the work of art. Additionally, she says there are ways beyond a show that she can offer support to artists who exhibit their work at Purple Fern to further the success of the artist.

“I can provide good professional photos of the artist’s work for them to use on their social media. We can create flyers to help them increase their reach. But I really like being able to step into artists’ spaces to photograph their process,” Sarah says. She thinks seeing the process allows artists to learn from each other and create closer bonds between people.

“We are here to help stimulate regional arts in this community. We want to demonstrate the potential of this community. There are a lot of people who want to support the art,” Corwyn says. Sarah adds that she hopes the gallery will “engage young people in the idea of ​​collecting and bring people together for workshops and gatherings.”

“We want to be a place where people want to see art and want their art to be seen,” says Corwyn. If you’re the first, show up this weekend and check out the new gallery. If you’re the latter, take note. The gallery hopes to present six or seven artists in 2023.

Corwyn says when choosing which artists’ works to exhibit, “We’re creating something general and real. But, there are practical considerations. Who has the body of work. Who hustle and work hard. Sarah adds, “We’re looking for those magical performers who have the energy and the vibe, but make your mouth open when you see them.”

Contact Sarah Garman at [email protected] for details.

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