Old Town Fredericksburg
There’s a long–standing tradition of the arts in the Fredericksburg area. From its colonial beginning, craftsmen and artisans – a silversmith, coopers, blacksmiths, and others were an integral part of the landscape with the focus on utilitarian arts and crafts. Old Town Fredericksburg has an aesthetic appeal to the artist’s soul. The architecture, proximity to urban areas, an enthusiastic market for original artwork, and the community of kindred spirits for support and inspiration have combined to give rise to a remarkably active arts community. The 18th and early 19th century buildings along Caroline Street make appealing settings for art galleries and shops.
On side streets and within blocks of the retail district in former industrial and commercial buildings, studios and workshops can be found. The arts can be enjoyed virtually everywhere in downtown Fredericksburg. Galleries feature local, regional and national artists. On each first Friday of the month, galleries change their exhibits and welcome guests to experience their new art collections with evening receptions. Restaurants display the works of local artists on their walls. There are also cooperative artists’ workshops and studios. Find them soon in a pleasurable visit to Fredericksburg’s wonderful and artsy downtown or in other shops in the area.
The early 20th century artist Gari Melchers, whose works hang in galleries throughout the world, found the Fredericksburg area both a respite and an inspiration. Melchers and his wife, Corinne, in 1916, purchased Belmont, a home in Falmouth overlooking the Rappahannock River. People and places in Falmouth, Fredericksburg and the surrounding countryside were the subjects of Melchers’ works.
The artist and his wife used all of their artistic skills to combine the Georgian–style house, the studio, the many gardens and wild spaces into one living, organic portrait. All of which combine to make for an interesting and compelling visit. The stone studio and galleries house the largest collection of Melchers’ works anywhere with 1,677 paintings and drawings by Gari Melchers and an additional 414 works by other artists. Melchers home is warm and inviting, like a moving romance novel that draws you in to the couple’s 29–year marriage, bringing the artifacts to life and creating a deeper connection to Gari, Corinne and their lives together on this lovely estate. Many of the pieces come from the time the two spent together while Gari was painting in Europe and include a water color painting by Jan Brueghel, 19th century works by Rodin, as well as a French Savonnerie carpet, a Dutch Rococo secretary, and stacks of Chinese export china, as well as other interesting objects d’art. Gari Melchers was one of the most decorated artists of his day. His role in the history of American painting is secured because of the legacy of his work preserved at Belmont and because, like countless other Americans who made a living through their craft, his story testifies to the full breadth of our country’s artistic vibrancy at the opening of the 20th century.
With the many galleries and studios in the area, it is hard to look anywhere without seeing all that the Fredericksburg art community has to offer. Anyone can transform themselves into an artist for a day, thanks to the many art classes that are offered in various locations. Learn how to create pottery, weave a table runner, make glass beads or construct a stained glass panel. LibertyTown Arts Workshop is just one example. Forty artists in twenty studios have joined the gallery and pottery school. LibertyTown Arts workshop is a colorful haven for local artists and craftspeople.