newssmith house galleries features works by mauricio esperon arnita taliaferro

Smith House Galleries features works by Mauricio Esperon, Arnita Taliaferro

Crystal Graham

arts council of the valleyArts Council of the Valley opens two new exhibitions at Smith House Galleries on Friday, with a reception during First Fridays of the Valley, from 5 to 7 p.m.

Mauricio Esperon uses large-scale acrylic paintings in Mind Heart, Soul; while Arnita Taliaferro focuses on Unity, with works in acrylic, watercolor and charcoal.

The reception – open to the public – is sponsored by GreeneHurlocker, PLC.

Both exhibitions run through Feb. 24, with in-person visits Monday-Friday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (closed Feb. 20), and Second Saturday (Feb. 11, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.).

Esperon, born in Montevideo, Uruguay, was self-taught before working with a Cuban artist. He uses composition, color, and expression in his paintings to “shock” and grab the attention of viewers.

“My works are inspired by the Modern Art Movement,” Esperon said. “I want to show someone looking at my art something different and introduce the viewer to a new world away from traditional artwork.

“Working with art helped me go through some serious health problems,” he said, “so I believe that art is very important for individuals and for society.”

Taliaferro, who currently lives in McGaheysville, trained as a computer support specialist before a career in the supply chain sector at Newport News Shipbuilding. After retiring, she moved to California, making her way to the Shenandoah Valley several years ago.

Six years in California provided a chance to develop her art skills, Taliaferro said, noting that she is passionate about painting people and telling her story, using acrylics to create texture and meaning.

“I am fascinated by the facial features of many cultures,” she added, “but mostly focus on African Americans.

“My vision is to share my art with the world and tell my story expressing unity, peace, and love – and showing cultural awareness of the people of color using various mediums such as acrylic, watercolor, charcoal, wine work and sometimes digital,” Taliaferro said.

Smith House Galleries is located at 311 South Main Street in Harrisonburg.

The exhibitions will also be available online through

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.