The NRV Gets Creative

by Aaron Wilson

What do small eclectic towns with local artisans and shops do when faced with a pandemic like they’ve never encountered? They find ingenious ways to stay well, be creative and bring their goods to customers in innovative ways.
A recent report from Brookings Institution estimates losses of 2.7 million jobs and $150 billion in sales of goods and services for creative industries nationwide. This ranges from painters and sculptors to musicians and photographers, all mainstays at some of our favorite NRV events and festivals. With those occasions and businesses shuttered, the New River Valley has stepped into a new form of a creative economy.
Locally, Rock House Marina in Pulaski features all types of water sports and now is hosting local musicians on weekends. You don’t even have to be a recreation enthusiast to enjoy live music while sitting on the covered deck overlooking Claytor Lake and enjoying food and drink.
Floyd is home to many artisans who have not been able to bring their handmade crafts to events and gatherings, so they’ve added virtual visit and shop pages to their websites with direct links to locally produced art and crafts, jewelry, music and homegrown delights. An online campaign will begin in October and offer discounts through the holidays. Many local shops are beginning to open with Friday to Sunday hours, and their renowned 16 Hands Studio Tour plans to go virtual this year.

Have you enjoyed winery tours and planned vacations around them? New River Vineyard & Winery in Fairlawn is open for limited reservations and offering take-out bottles and wine slushies (we hear they sell out quickly!) and has partnered with Downey Dog Yoga to offer “yoga in the vines” classes. That’s a win/win for best practices of how to deal with a pandemic by combining exercise and wine!
Pearisburg Town Park is home to a River Sculpture Walking Trail that can be enjoyed by everyone. It is an easy, peaceful walk sprinkled with sculptures that local artists have created from items collected out of the New River.
This fall, Stafford Glass in Newport is hosting classes that teach the ancient art of glassblowing, and the blow your own pumpkin class promises to be a favorite way to get in the harvest mood.
Finding inspiring and unique art pieces is easy in Montgomery County! Discover a variety of studios and galleries that feature crafts and art from local and regional artisans. Check out ARTS on 8 in Riner, Matrix Gallery Fine Crafts in downtown Blacksburg, and KDR Studios in downtown Christiansburg for your next gift to yourself or a friend.
An outdoor art exhibit at the Central Depot Courtyard in Radford welcomes the public to share in their response to the pandemic with artful expressions created by local artisans. The NRV’s vibrant and bustling calendar of events may not look like it did a few months ago, but the creative economy of the NRV is showing improvement. Our local artisans have proven that they are resilient and resourceful, and they all welcome the community to share in their spirit.


Text by Deborah Cooney

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