ART ASSOCIATION BRINGS FOCUS ON ART TO RIDGE SPRING
Since its inception in November of 2007, the main goal of the Art Association of Ridge Spring is to encourage art talent and appreciation on the Ridge. In addition to a gallery, AARS has achieved this goal by hosting yearly student art shows, by offering a variety of art classes and a 3-day summer art camp.
AARS is the brainchild of Ridge Spring Mayor Pat Asbill. She approached some local artists about the possibility of beginning an art group in Ridge Spring. Since AARS did not yet have a place of their own, the organizational meeting was held at the Ridge Spring Library and had five in attendance. Barbara Yon became the acting director until elections could be held, and later served as the first president. Current officers are Joanne Crouch, president; Yon, vice-president; and Donna Minor, secretary. Gloria Grizzle serves as bookkeeper and webmaster.
The Town of Ridge Spring offered the use of one of the former Ridge Spring School buildings behind the Ridge Spring Civic Center. Funding was raised from line dance classes and other classes, but many members of the community came forth with money and supplies. The Harvest Festival Committee also granted the request for “seed money” in the first year of operation. Initially, only the foyer and the front room of the school building were renovated, but rooms quickly filled with art. The group membership continued to grow and members renovated and filled three additional rooms. One larger room is available for community meetings and classes. Fifteen artists now display their art in the gallery.
The Art Center offers many types of art for the public. Watercolor, acrylic, mosaic, gourd art, pottery, photography, oils, encaustic wax, and jewelry fill the gallery walls. Gallery hours are Fridays and Saturday from 10-4. The gallery is free to the public.
The Ridge Spring Student Art Show and Sale has been held for many years. It allows students to display their art and the public to view the art. RSM High School art teacher and AARS member Carmen Holley, along with RSM Elementary/Middle School art teacher Ramey Fulmer, chaired the show this past year. Last year’s event had about 500 pieces from area schools.
In 2010 AARS held the first Summer Art Camp. The three-day camp hosted 21 children, who ranged from 4-18 years of age. The students created a watercolor painting, painted a gourd birdhouse, tie-dyed a t-shirt, and created a clay bowl. The group, led by member Danny O’Driscoll, painted a mural that features the mosaic tractor in the town and the caboose. The collaborative mural will be a permanent installation in the Ridge Spring Civic Center.
Membership for AARS is $25/year (July-July). Monthly meetings are held the first Tuesday of each month @6:30 at the Art Center of Ridge Spring, and new members are welcome.
Thanks for the History Lesson
Thanks to all of you who came by to share your memories of the building that AARS is using. We now know that it was built in 1938 as a WPA project and was a part of a three-building school complex. H. M. Watkins, a member of the school's board of trustees, supervised the construction of the school. Agriculture and home economics were taught here. Home economics space included a banquet hall, kitchen, and sewing room. Originally the school had only one large agriculture room where two of the gallery rooms, the corridor, the storage room, and the bathrooms on the lefthand side of the building are now located. The cannery and the shop were in the basement. The community cannery included a boiler and pressure cooker. FFA students used the work shop for wood work and repairing machinery and farm implements. There were no indoor toilets during the early days of the building. And yes, we were told, Strom Thurmond did teach agriculture in the Ridge Spring school, though not in this building. He lived with the Horne family while he taught here.
In the 1980s the Council on Aging, first led by Mary Young and later by Bernice Rowe, used the building for a seniors' program. Senior citizens came daily for dinner, conversation, puzzles and games. After this program ended, it is believed to have been used for an after-school program and a clothes closet.
The large two-story school building that stood next door was built in 1916. Mr. John Burton of Monetta took a picture of this building in 1927 while he was a student there. He was kind enough to share this picture with us. This building fell into disrepair and was razed in 1974.