Nicholas DeMayo/Old Gold & Black
Nicholas DeMayo/Old Gold & Black

The Art of Local Charm

Village Smith Galleries opened shop in Reynolda Village in 1977, and today  it houses exceptional artwork, jewelry, pottery and framing from artists from Winston-Salem and around the world.

Owner Sue Poovey bought the gallery four years ago and continues to pursue new artists for her selections.

“I love to find new and exciting art to add to the collection,” Poovey said. “I hate being bored when it comes to the art.”

From the outside, the shop is unsuspecting. The gallery was created out of what used to be a residence for the Reynolds family’s personal plumber. But on the inside, the atmosphere is warm and inviting. Plenty of sunlight floods the rooms through the bay windows and covers the artwork with a natural glow.

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Poovey is quick to welcome new faces as if they were old friends. The sheer quietness of the shop may be unsettling for the average college student at first, especially when compared to the hustle and bustle of the nearby university.  A stroll through the shop will prove, however, that the place is anything but boring.

There is a surprising amount of artwork within the three small rooms of the gallery. Plenty of nooks in the walls, shelving on the windows and tables spread around the floor add space to fit artwork. Poovey exhibits her collection masterfully, making the gallery feel more like a living room than a stuffy museum.

Poovey sits at her desk in front of a wall of ornate frames, some made in shop and some brought in from countries around the world. Village Smith Galleries offers framing services where customers can bring in nearly anything and frame it. The shop has even framed a seat back from the old Yankees Stadium.

The frames surround artwork from local artists such as Bowman Gray IV, Fran Speight and Diana Kelly. These artists work in a wide variety of media, such as photography and landscape painting.

Gray is the great grandson of Bowman Gray, for whom the Wake Forest Medical School is named. His photography is featured in the medical school and will be installed in the new Innovation Quarter. He works mostly in still life, but some of his most striking photographs are landscape and  long exposure. He prints his photos on aluminum, which adds a natural glossiness to the print and reflects less distracting light when compared to glass frames. The aluminum prints also play with the light and change the mood of the photograph depending on which angle one looks at it. For this reason, many find it interesting to hang Gray’s photos outdoors in the sunlight.

Fran Speight is a former Village Smith Galleries employee and a self-taught artist. She typically works in pastel on canvas and woodland landscapes are some of her favorite subject matter. Her painting is some of the most popular available at the gallery.

Diana Kelly is another local artist whose oils on canvas can be found on the walls of the gallery. She, like Speight, paints landscapes but also has a keen eye for local imagery. Her picture of the gate house on the Reynolda Village property is painted in vivid colors and is reminiscent of a late-fall day at Wake Forest.

Another artist that catches the eyes of many customers is Joanne Rafferty of New Jersey. She creates mixed-media collages and her work is abstract, but contains some recognizable landscape symbols such as the sun and clouds. She uses a variety of a material in her work, including gold flake, acrylics, newspaper clippings and even neon-pink paper.

“You would never get tired of looking at Rafferty’s work,” Poovey said. “There’s something new to discover every time.”

Even though Village Smith Galleries boasts for a great number and variety of art, many Wake Forest students have never stepped foot in the gallery or even know of its existence.

“I love when Wake Forest students come into the shop,” Poovey said. “I really feel like they leave with a greater appreciation for the local artist and small, independent galleries.”

I stumbled upon the gallery just the other day as I walked through Reynolda Village with nowhere to go in particular. The day was very hot, and I wanted to step in somewhere to cool off for a bit. When I got inside and felt the charm of the place and the care that the owner, has for it, I knew that there was a story to be told there.

“There is always a story to be told when it comes to art,” Poovey said. “And I love when people come in and talk to me about what they see in a piece and how it makes them feel.”

We are very fortunate that we, at Wake Forest, can enjoy museums and art galleries that are just a short walk away in Reynolda Village.

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