Smith House Galleries hosts two exhibitions in August

Arts Council of the ValleyArts Council of the Valley opens a new exhibition, Wendy Lam: A Retrospective, at Smith House Galleries during August.

The Upstairs Gallery features The Keepers of Secret Selves: Photography as a Counter-Narrative to Ageism (black-and-white photographs by Deborah Pugh).

An in-person opening reception is scheduled Aug. 6 during First Fridays Downtown, 5 to 8 pm at

Smith House Galleries, 311 South Main Street. Visitors are also invited to view the exhibitions Monday-Friday from 11 am to 4 pm.

Both exhibitions are available online Aug. 2-27 at Smith House Galleries is supported in part by ACV’s 2021 Cultivating the Arts Platinum Sponsors: Kathy Moran Wealth Group, Matchbox Realty, and Riner Rentals.

Lam, whose preferred medium is oil painting, also creates botanical, insect, fish and bird drawings using ink, colored pencils and watercolor paints.

“My art expresses the everyday world with color and whimsy,” she explained. “I create impressionist style paintings using vivid hues, vibrant colors and a slightly flawed perspective. Color and quirk are a part of every landscape, still life, floral or animal portraiture I create.”

Lam said her paintings are not an attempt to be realistic. “Some objects – and especially my perspective – are a little bit ‘off’ in depiction,” she explained. “I personally feel a piece is more interesting, approachable, and comfortable when the painting is not perfect.”

The Keepers of Secret Selves photography collection was inspired when Deborah Pugh saw an older couple holding hands in a park. She received a 2018 ACV Advancing the Arts grant to use low-key portraiture as a counter-narrative to ageism.

“The truth is that there is little photographic representation that conveys images of beauty, vitality, or essence when it comes to older people,” Pugh explained. “My hope for this exhibit is that these portraits will inspire everyone, young and old, to question ageism and discover the value in themselves and in each other through dialogue and inquiry.”

Pugh will give an Artist Talk Aug. 17 at 10:30 at Smith House Galleries. She will be joined by several authors from the book Better Better with Age: Creativity, Discovery & Surprise, including co-editors Robert Bersson and Jack Greer. Christine Edwards and Robin McNallie will also read their contributions to the book, which contains essays, poems, and a song on how to keep things fresh over the course of a lifetime.

Arts Council of the Valley is a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to cultivating the arts and connecting communities in the City of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County. Since it was established in 2000, ACV has grown into a multi-faceted community organization that fosters innovative partnerships among area businesses, civic organizations, schools, and artists.

Today, ACV manages the Smith House Galleries, funds local art projects through its Advancing the Arts grant program (awarding more than $412,000 since 2001), and coordinates monthly First Fridays Downtown community gatherings. The Board of Directors recently voted to reopen Court Square Theater, shuttered since July 1, 2020.

ACV is supported in part by the City of Harrisonburg, Rockingham County, and the Virginia Commission for the Arts, which receives support from the Virginia General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

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