The arts community in downtown Harrisonburg continues to grow as more artists see its potential.
The latest art space to open downtown is Quillon Hall’s Wooden Trout Art Gallery in the Agora Downtown Market, which held its soft opening on Aug. 8.
“It’s become such a vibrant community here. I just wanted to be a part of that,” Hall said.
The gallery features work from Hall and other local artists. All of the artwork is available to purchase.
“I’m carrying artists from Harrisonburg that I’m friends with, who don’t typically show in other spaces in Harrisonburg. So, I’m giving them an opportunity to present their work to the public,” he said.
Hall himself, a former elementary school art teacher, is a mixed-media artist.
“I do mixed media non-objective work, so when I create something, I don’t have any preconceived ideas of what the outcome will be, I just start and let it evolve into whatever it wants,” he said.
Hall and his family moved to Harrisonburg in 2009 from Iowa, where Hall worked as an art teacher. His wife got a job at James Madison University and Hall became a stay at home dad, but continued to make art at home.
When Agora Downtown Market opened in June, Hall was asked to build an installation, so he constructed a 12-foot-tall, 10-foot-wide baseball card totem. Hall had built one half the size for Spitzer Art Center, which caught the eye of Agora’s owner.
“There’s a structure inside of it with PVC pipe that I built first, and then there’s a skin of baseball cards that I glued around it,” Hall said.
Hall liked the space at Agora when he was building the totem, and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to open his own gallery.
On opening day, Hall had eight of his own pieces, plus the work of four other artists on display, including an oil painting by Kathleen Johnston, an art teacher for Harrisonburg City Public Schools, Brenda Hounshell, a local watercolorist, and Pam Tittle, another local artist.
“These are all artists that I really admire,” Hall said. “[I’m] trying to get a variety of two-dimensional and three-dimensional pieces in here.”
Although the gallery is named Wooden Trout, don’t expect any artwork of fish. Hall said the name was inspired by the natural environment in the Shenandoah Valley.
The spontaneity comes across in Hall’s work. In one piece, the viewer can see Hall’s process as he first painted a black background followed by green circular shapes, with acrylic paint, and then sewed red sticks with wiring to form a structure that resembles train tracks.
“I like to play with different materials. I don’t like to tie myself to one certain material. I think it’s more fun to experiment with things,” he said. “I continually build on my artwork and I try to use lightweight materials so I can build as much as I can, so it’s hangable.”
Another piece is made from intricately cut pieces of paper that Hall hand cuts with an X-Acto knife in free form, meaning without a design drawn out in advance. Some of his other mixed media pieces use hand stitching and beading.
Wooden Trout Art Gallery’s grand opening falls on Sept. 1, a First Friday. Hall said there will be live music and refreshments for the event. He plans to have the gallery fully stocked by the grand opening.
“I’m hoping within a month or two I can do monthly shows so I can participate in the First Fridays, so that when people come, there will be something new to see each month,” Hall said.