Located in the heart of Martinsville’s Arts and Cultural District, Piedmont Arts was founded in 1961. Today, the museum offers performing arts, from concerts to plays to children’s performances, and art classes of all mediums for all ages. Lauren Ellis, Programs and Public Relations Coordinator, added, “Piedmont Arts is dedicated to inspiring and engaging the diverse Martinsville-Henry County community and surrounding areas through visual arts, performing arts and arts education.” It does this by curating “thought-provoking exhibitions by international, national, and regional artists.”
Piedmont Arts hosts over 20 exhibits in six galleries each year. Director of Exhibitions and Marketing, Bernadette Moore curates major exhibits. She works with artists to develop exhibits that are unique to the museum’s space and that bring new, interesting ideas to the community.
Currently through May 13, Piedmont Arts is displaying the works of artists Susan Lenz, Linda Starr, and Lisa Garrett. “These powerful and creative women work in textiles, found objects, and paint to create pieces that embody the female experience,” Moore said.
The museum has many resources that provide the most complete experience for visitors. Moore continued, “At the start of each exhibit, Piedmont Arts provides cards and educational materials that explain the historical context of the artist, their philosophies, and their goals with the exhibit. This can be a great glimpse into the history of the artist and the questions they are exploring through the creation of art.”
Piedmont Arts houses the Discovery Room with the purpose of allowing young students artistic exploration. “The Discovery Room also provides curated crafts and activities that are related to the exhibits. These can include anything from instructions for painting techniques to scavenger hunts,” Ellis said. There is the Reference Library, which is free and open during museum hours. “It is a curated, quiet space full of books about artists, art periods, and movements. This is an excellent resource for educators and students alike,” Ellis added.
Community engagement is vital, and a driving force, for the museum. “Piedmont Arts always offers free admission to all galleries and exhibits. In addition to ensuring the community has economic access to the museum, Piedmont Arts hosts a wide variety of educational programming in the gallery and in local schools,” Ellis said. The museum also curates two outdoor public spaces, The Gravely-Lester Art Garden and the recently created Pollinator Path. Ellis continued, “These spaces add to the beautification of Martinsville by devoting public outdoor space to the arts. The Art Garden hosts events every year that feature local musicians, local restaurants, and food trucks, and encourages the community to spend time together in the fresh air. The Pollinator Path is based on a community garden model with opportunities for individuals and organizations to adopt garden beds and learn to plant flowers and plants that support and benefit our local pollinators. The goal is to always make sure the arts remain accessible, attainable, and for and by everyone.”
Piedmont Arts recently announced the public phase of its $1 million Growth and Restoration Campaign, which will raise much-needed funds to secure the museum’s future as an arts and cultural leader in the region. “The Growth and Restoration Campaign is integral to the continued success of Piedmont Arts,” said Executive Director Heidi Pinkston. “With these vital funds, many projects that allow us to better serve our community will be completed.”
Pinkston said this will make Piedmont Arts a stronger organization, ready to serve and grow the community. “Martinsville is in the midst of a revitalization effort. There are many projects being completed that will enhance the city for residents and visitors. As part of Uptown and as a major tourism anchor, Piedmont Arts wants to be ready to serve a larger, more diverse community for years to come,” Pinkston concluded.