Featuring the Artists’ Undertaking Gallery on its 45th Anniversary

October 3rd - November 6th

“45 Years of Art and Ghosts”

by Mary Rose Janya, Watercolorist and the Gallery’s Historian

Forty-five years ago, in 1977, a small group of visionary artists converted a former undertaking establishment into an art center in Occoquan, Virginia. In the South County Chronicle, June 2007, local art enthusiast, Eleanor Gomolinsky-Lally, described how these intrepid artists cleared out the mud and debris in the basement of the funeral parlor that was left after Hurricane Agnes devastated the town in 1972.

The artists set up as a cooperative and organized studios, classrooms, and display spaces in the basement. Unfortunately, flooding episodes continued, and the co-op rented upstairs space in 1982 for a Gallery, while still using the basement for studios and teaching. In 1984, they gave up the basement space. Major renovation took place in 2006 as the co-op nearly doubled its display space. Like a lotus arising from muddy roots, despite ups and downs, The Artists’ Undertaking Gallery has flourished all this time, with over 150 artists participating over the years.

It seems that Mr. Hall, the owner of the funeral parlor, although deceased, has also never left the building. At various times, an artist opening the Gallery in the morning has discovered a painting on the floor in the middle of the Gallery, even though no one had been there since the day before! Some folks have heard the sound of an elevator that used to carry caskets down to the basement, although the elevator has been long gone. One artist even saw a shadowy figure at the end of the long hallway outside the Gallery! She left, never to return.

Fortunately, most of the time, things have remained calm. The only “ghostly” disruptions most Gallery members experienced came from a talking Halloween figure decorating the Gallery.

The Gallery will be hosting an Open House to celebrate the 45th Anniversary on Saturday, October 15 from 1-6 p.m., 309 Mill Street, Occoquan. Come meet some of our current 18 local artists and see their amazing artworks, including pottery, hand crafted jewelry, turned wood, watercolors, oil paintings, encaustics, photographs, fused glass, fiber art, sculpture, pressed flower art, block prints and more. Yes, there is something for everyone!

Artists’ Undertaking Gallery has been providing fine art and crafts for 45 years


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