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Martinsville Bulletin, Inc.
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Martinsville, Virginia 24115
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Crawling with culture
Art, music fill the night
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Patriot Player singer Bridgette Burnette performs for the crowd at FAHI during the Culture Crawl in Martinsville. (Bulletin photos by Mike Wray)
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Sunday, September 8, 2013

By HOLLY KOZELSKY - Bulletin Staff Writer

Martinsville was crawling with art, music, theater and more Saturday evening.

It was the area’s first Culture Crawl, and it brought the uptown area to life.

It included art and entertainment in uptown Martinsville and the surrounding area. A number of centers and shops were open from 4-8 p.m. Several restaurants were open late.

“I’m visiting places I never go, even though I live here all the time,” said Margaret Lewis. The teenager and her mother got an early start, arriving at Piedmont Arts at the 4 p.m. starting time.

The Patriot Players, Patrick Henry Community College’s performing arts troupe, set the pace for the event. They gave well-attended performances in two locales.

There was a party atmosphere at the Artisan Center, which served up hors d’ouerves and music as the Patriot Players members and the cast of their upcoming production of “Purlie — The Musical” performed several songs.

Brandon Martin’s rendition of “Don’t Let Me Go” flirted with the crowd as his voice soared and then again beckoned them in for quiet attention when he lowered his voice and looked people in the eye.

Patriot Players Artistic Director Devin Pendleton normally is behind the scenes, but Saturday he went in front of the audience. He and Amber Crum sang “Falling Slowly” while Alyssa Arminian played the violin and Austin Janey played the guitar. Jenni Gregory sang a sultry “Snap Your Fingers” while Sydney Coulson and Stacey Davis danced. Then the entire cast rocked the room with “Signed, Sealed and Delivered.”

The group performed later at the FAHI museum.

At FAHI, Edith Grevious read an essay about uniting a community while Austin Janey played a mandolin softly in the background. Then Louandrea Young and her 13-year-old son captivated the audience with a rousing rendition of “Smile.”

Singer Bridgette Burnette toyed with the audience with “I Got Love” from “Purlie.” Brandon Martin sang “Shadowland” from the Lion King.

Virginia Museum of Natural History Executive Director Joe Keiper showed his funky side. Outside the front entrance of the museum, he played an electric guitar with a fun beat. A few museum visitors danced past him as they left the building.

On Church Street, Virginia King played a violin outside Steve Rucker’s building. Rucker bought and renovated the former social services building. Several people stopped in to see the antique shop on the ground floor and his telephone museum upstairs.

In the back rooms of the Artisan Center, Bill Fain and others gave demonstrations of the Fab Lab. Karen Despot demonstrated sewing techniques. She was on the schedule to demonstrate quilting, she said, but instead she was working on a wedding dress, which caught many peoples’ attention.

“Someone asked if it was for a production,” she laughed. No; it actually was for a bride-to-be who had just discovered she could not fit into it, and she was due to have her portrait taken in half an hour. Her wedding will be on another day.

At Piedmont Arts, volunteers from the SPCA had dogs on the lawn. One was Teapot, a small poodle being cared for by volunteer Jodelle Woods. Woods said she never misses helping out at an SPCA event and was hoping people would leave plenty of donations.

One of the biggest events on the Culture Crawl wasn’t even on the schedule. It was a wedding at the former Henry County courthouse. Bedecked chairs were arranged across the lawn. The bride arrived in a horse-drawn carriage. The event was watched and talked about by people throughout the evening.

Browsing about Studio 107, Terri Tobin remarked that she wished more people had come for what turned out to be a fun evening.

“It’s really nice,” she said. “I’m glad all these stores stayed open. I’m surprised not to see more people.”

Dianne Vann echoed a similar sentiment. “I’m enjoying it. It’s wonderful,” she said. “I wish I saw more crowds out.”

A shuttle, courtesy of the city of Martinsville, gave free rides to Culture Crawl wristband-holders.


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