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Artist exhibitions in the old Criglersville store turned gallery | Virginie News

By ALLISON BROPHY CHAMPION

CRIGLERSVILLE, Virginia (AP) – Multimedia artist Sharon Zarambo, like everyone else, has suffered a lot of losses in the past year.

“Seven people have died, including my mother and my dog,” said the 66-year-old, who grew up on Long Island and has lived in Etlan’s countryside in Madison County for 23 years.

Amidst grief, Zarambo channeled her energy into the “tedious work” involved in creating the complex, layered art she creates.

“Keep your mind busy,” she said. “That’s why I do repetitions and beads. It’s great, and endorphins come into play, like finding a piece in a jigsaw puzzle. “

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Art was salvation in the darkness of death. The result of his efforts is glorious and joyful.

An art teacher at a college in Houston for 10 years, Zarambo has been creating detailed 3D pieces for the past ten years reminiscent of mosaics with a Gustav Klimt touch.

Now she has an exhibit at Possum’s Store Arts & Artisan gallery in Criglersville, and it’s something to see. The designs are large and captivating, with expansive perspectives and details to explore.

His show can be viewed Friday through Sunday through the end of December at the historic general store along the Old Blue Ridge toll highway. See possumstoreva.com for timetables.

Zarambo produced the art while caring for his elderly parents in the midst of COVID quarantine. She worked on each piece with a specific person in mind, but all of the works are untitled. She is not on the internet, but intends to do so next year when she has time.

Deliberate patterns and distinctive designs emerge when viewing his work, which is made up of thousands of tiny pieces of material that make a bigger picture.

Pearls, shells, buttons and jewelry. Bottle caps, doll parts, license plates and crosses. These are all elements Zaramabo uses to create his art.

“It’s no accident,” she said. “Hope you can see the design elements I put there. And I’m still learning. Whatever works becomes part of the next piece, which is why you see the repetition of materials.

The art evokes Aboriginal culture as well as India and American Indians. Resin and other glue mixes hold it all together, affixed to canvases or thrown doors and oversized shipping boxes. All the colors of the rainbow are represented. Some of the larger pieces take several months to complete.

“I’m not a black and white person – the texture and the color, they make me happy,” Zarambo said. “For the most part, I think it’s an upbeat joy. This is my intention. It’s not about being on the dark side.

Although she attended an art school and holds degrees, the artist is self-taught in mixed media. It supports her.

“I can’t imagine not doing art even though it’s shown,” Zarambo said. “If no one sees it, I still have to. “

Possum’s Store co-owner Renee Balfour of Charlottesville said the gallery’s vision is to show contemporary works such as Zarambo’s.

“Sharon lives up the street so it’s very wonderful to have her here – we love her job,” she said.

Balfour and her husband, Jim Howe, bought McAllister’s general store around 1890 in late 2019 “by chance,” she said, at the onset of COVID. They have since worked on renovating the place and have organized various art exhibitions and musical performances in the multi-story space, which retains most of its original architectural features.

“We want to expand, make it more of a center for the arts and music, keep it active and vibrant,” Balfour said.

The old general store retains a lot of history, which they want to preserve and honor, she noted. Dozens of community members gathered in the store during WWII to listen to CBS broadcaster Edward R. Murrow on the radio. And President Herbert Hoover would stop there frequently on his way to his Rapidan River fishing camp.

“The idea is to create a place where the community wants to come together for art and music,” Balfour said.

She is a painter and sculptor who teaches art in Charlottesville. Balfour has a carpentry workshop upstairs in the old general store where she makes her sculptures and a spring exhibition planned for a DC gallery.

She and Howe set up an upstairs apartment for their retirement. He is a professor of materials science at the University of Virginia and a leader in the field, focused on the study of electrons. Howe plays the drums on the side, something he picked up in his youth.

“People come into our gallery, and it’s not what they expect,” Balfour said. “I agree with that. We stay true to our vision and respect the store’s history. She is a hidden treasure here in Madison County.

Howe grew up in Kentucky and moved to California when he was young to try and become a musician. Instead, he found science, got an engineering degree, and gave up music for 25 years.

Now, on drums again, Howe is excited about the next chapter of the old McAllister general store. He is in charge of recruiting the jazz groups they have hosted. He also respects the history of the building.

“Curtis Gibbs has owned it for over 60 years,” said Howe. “I worked as a kid at McAllister and bought it later. “

He pointed out perfectly round footprints in the old parquet.

“It speaks to the history of the store – the footprints of the stools where the men played cards at the counter,” he said.

Zarambo is delighted to show off her art in the vintage space with high ceilings and great light.

“Doing what I do is my calling,” she says. “For someone to really love her, that’s rare.”

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