Florence Art School moves to West Jefferson
A grand opening is taking West Jefferson to school.
The official announcement came in February that the Florence Thomas Art School was moving into the historic Ray’s Hardware building in downtown West Jefferson.
Since that time, the building at 10 S. Jefferson Ave., which was previously home to Sallie Mae’s Emporium, has been undergoing renovations, and the school will open later this month. The 3,500-square-foot space will include a workshop studio, retail gallery space and offices.
A grand opening, ribbon cutting and open house will be held Thursday, May 16. Events will begin at noon and last until 7 p.m.
A ribbon cutting will kick off the celebration at noon, with artist demonstrations to follow from 12:30 to 5 p.m. A reception will be held from 5 to 7 p.m.
“We will be dedicating two benches in honor of the late Dr. C.E. ‘John’ Miller during the day’s events,” executive director Meghan Minton said.
During the festivities, guest artists and instructors will set up and offer demonstrations on watercolor and oil painting, basket making, book making and other activities.
Artists scheduled to be part of the demonstrations include Stephen Shoemaker, Robert Way, Cathey Purvey, Sue Boggs, Cora Mae Pipkin, Sharon Sharp, Cheryl Roberts, Doug Munroe, Lenore De Pree and Wes Waugh.
During the reception, speakers will include Minton, school president Ed Perzel and foundation president Pat Considine. Scot Pope will perform at the reception.
The school’s board members and staff members said they are excited to be relocating into downtown West Jefferson.
“Being in the heart of the West Jefferson Arts District offers the school greater visibility and exposure for the school and to Florence Thomas’s work,” Minton said. “The new location also provides the convenience of shopping, dining and lodging for our students and instructors.”
Minton said the school is also beneficial to the community.
“The school enhances and complements the downtown area and community by offering onsite classes to adults and children, many from other areas of the state and beyond,” she said, “and the gallery will exhibit many of Florence Thomas’ own works of art for all to enjoy.”
The school’s gallery will display and sell paintings by the late Florence Thomas.
The feedback from the community and area residents has been positive, Minton said. “People are excited to learn more about the school, in addition to having a new business in town,” she said.
In regard to limited parking, Minton said organizers are aware of the situation and plan to encourage students and instructors to park on side streets and in other town lots.
The school’s gallery will be open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Workshops will be held 9:30 to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with evening classes from 6 to 9 p.m. on scheduled dates.
For more information about the school or classes planned, visit http://www.florenceartschool.org or call (336) 846-3827. Individuals can register for classes at the new location after the opening day, when catalogs will be available.
About Florence Thomas Art School
The art school was established in 2007, with the mission to provide instruction and experiences in the fine arts, master crafts and heritage crafts and promote the legacy of its namesake, Florence Thomas. The school endeavors to foster an environment for creative thought and artistic expression.
The school was originally located in Glendale Springs and held its first workshops in summer 2008.