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Fuquay-Varina Downtown and Open Art Society partner to produce Pop! Fuquay-Varina Downtown, a series of seven storefront window installations by artists from around the Triangle, February-May 2015. Filling vacant storefront windows with site specific art about Fuquay-Varina’s own love story, this second round of installations by North Carolina artists in Pop! Fuquay-Varina Downtown art series puts love in the air.

The Love Story goes something like this: As was custom in the day, a young woman named Virginia Arey, sent anonymous support letters to soldiers fighting in the Civil War which she signed “Varina”. Intrigued by his correspondence with the young school teacher from Fayetteville, JD Ballentine visited her upon his return from the war. Romance blossomed, they married, and Ballentine brought her to live in his home town of Fuquay Springs. Sometime later, JD Ballentine named his mercantile and post office in honor of his wife, whom he still called Varina. When the Durham and Southern Rail came through the area, they named their depot Varina Station, thus the Varina in Fuquay-Varina was born.

The artwork created for Pop! Fuquay-Varina Downtown explores both the history of Varina and the many facets of Love. The installations will be on display through May 2015. An artist tour and reception will take place during Art After Dark on March 6th. The tour will start at 6pm at 502 E. Broad Street. The tour will end at 7pm with an artist reception at The Mill, 146 S Main St. in the Fuquay District.

Pop! Fuquay-Varina Downtown started last fall and was the first of its kind in Wake County. Naomi Riley, Executive Director at Fuquay-Varina Downtown, invited Open Art Society to produce the series as a way to introduce temporary public art to the downtown districts and complement existing arts programs like En Plein Air Paint Off and Art After Dark second Friday art walk.

Open Art Society is an L3C based in the Piedmont region of NC and works with artists to produce art everywhere for everyone. The LOVE series of Pop! was produced by artist Helen Seebold. Fuquay-Varina Downtown is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote the thriving business and residential historic districts of Fuquay-Varina, NC. They promote preservation, educate the public, support the business environment and grow community.

Thank you to the downtown building and business owners who are contributing their time and space for the project; Shirley Simmons of the Fuquay-Varina Centennial Museum for sharing her knowledge and resources about the history of the town; and The Mill for hosting our artists’ reception.
Installation descriptions:

LOVE NEST – located at 124 S. Main St. Next to TR Ashworth Tire Shop
Artist team Brenda Brokke and Leatha Koefler have created Love Nest, a large nest built with natural elements such as sticks and grass, that features envelopes and love letters (sealed with a kiss) reminiscent of the letters Varina would have sent to JD Ballentine. The nest is lined with feathers and pillows to give it a boudoir feel and love birds fly above with love letters in their beaks. Leatha and Brenda work as a team in building site specific nests around the Triangle, having created installations for Spakrcon in Raleigh and Halle Cultural Art center in Apex to name a few.

LOVE POEM – located at 502 E Broad St.- Edward Jones
Poet Nancy Young and artist Flora Pinkham have teamed up to create an interpretation of Nancy’s poem on the meaning of love. Both Nancy and Flora hail from Fuquay-Varina and are active in the local art scene. This will be Flora’s fourth public art project in Fuquay-Varina; other projects include a mural bench for the Growers Market, a winning plein air painting, a print of which is displayed in downtown Varina, and a window project for the Revitalization Association.

VALENTINES FOR VARINA – located at 134 S Main St. – Jazzercise
Created by artists and members of the Fuquay-Varina Arts Council and installed by Randy Bryant, Valentines for Varina features handmade valentines strung together to form a heart. Each card is an artist’s interpretation of the historical love story that inspired the town’s name. Artists Shirley Hunsberger, Kellie Walker, Gesine Noonan, Sandy Albery, Andrea Wilson, Katrina Wilson, Vonda Gray and Ann Mayer, Denise Fuehrer Burnette, Dina Jacobs, and Deadeye Dee all participated.

FOREVER LOVE – located at 101 N Main St – Center Stage School of Performing Art
Artist John Suteu has incorporated history in two ways with this installation. Using a reclaimed window from a 100 year old Wake County home, John has created homage to Varina and JD Balentine’s life with historical pictures of their house, post office and various images from the era. John Suteu is an accomplished artist and woodworker based in Apex, NC.

MEMORIES FROM AN ATTIC- located at 515 Broad St. – Glittery Frog Boutique
Home School High School students Patrick Seebold, Alanah Reid and Kevin Seebold created this installation to explore themes of peace and love during war, as well as, Fuquay-Varina’s local history. The scene is set with an old rocking chair, a hand made trunk, and a backdrop of painted canvas portraying a book shelf. Scattered about are framed photos, letters, and keepsakes that reflect a peaceful home during the Civil War era. An old wedding dress and love letters draw connections to the love story of Varina.

FROM A STORY OF TRUE DESTINY, A TOWN IS BORN – located at 508 Broad St – Diane Kristan Salon
Emerging student artists from Fuquay-Varina High School under direction of Blair Hale retell the historical love story of JD Ballentine and Varina from research they gathered from the Fuquay-Varina museum. To encourage community participation, and explore love in a community setting, the students invite viewers to leave their own love letters that will then be added to the installation. This was a group effort with team leaders Taylor Forzaglia and Jasmine Hicks and team Megan Singleton and Alyssa Hartzheim.

THIS ONE, THEN THE ONE located at 110 N Main St. – Parker’s Carpet & Flooring
Artist Yvette Marie Fain explores the idea that loving oneself is an important step before loving another. Using chopped wood and hearts to symbolize the futility of trying to find happiness in someone else, she invites viewers to peek in the mirror and remember to love themselves for who they are. The Amaryllis bulb growing during the installation symbolizes true growth of love and connection to others. Yvette has been active in the Raleigh arts since 1996 and exhibits throughout the Triangle.

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