At the McGuffey Art Center downtown, housed in a building that has stood since 1916 and used to serve as a school, you will find jewelry-maker Charlene Cross’s studio, among 44 other artists renting space. Among those other artists is painter Jean Sampson who describes Cross as “a wonderful and extremely creative jewelry-maker.”
The McGuffey Art Center is open six days a week and invites visitors to venture into any studio with an open door. You will also find three galleries and a gift shop where you can purchase members’ work. Check out new exhibitions at McGuffey on the upcoming First Friday, March 6th.
Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? If not the Charlottesville area, what brought you here?
I came to Charlottesville from St. Augustine, Florida where I lived for several years, however, I’m originally from Baltimore, Maryland.
What are you working on right now?
I’m preparing for a solo show at McGuffey Art Center where I also have a studio.
When and why did you become an artist?
Starting as a young child, I’ve always had a desire to be creative and make things.
What artists influence(d) you most?
Artists I find most exciting are the ones breaking the rules and following their own path. Other times I’m inspired by those who are famous – Dali is a favorite. Other times it can be work I stumble across online, in a small gallery, or just a really creative idea not related to art at all.
What aspects of life excite you, stir your affections, fuel your passions, inspire your art?
I’m excited by the freedom I have as an independent artist. When I get into my studio, I sometimes start experimenting on something totally unplanned and become inspired by where I’m taken.
I’m happy when people see my work and become excited by a piece. To me this means something in my work is resonating with the viewer and that’s the ultimate take away.
Finish this sentence (be creative!). Jewelry-making to me is…
the process of bringing materials together in ways that are fun, exciting and often surprising.
What does a day in the life of an artist look like from your perspective?
Spending the day in my studio working on multiple projects. When I find I’m not moving on a piece, I’ll change to another piece. I always have several projects in various stages of development, which, for me, keeps the creative fire going.
What does the not-so-distant future hold for you and your art?
Continuing work on a series I’m calling Nature’s Transformations which are wall pieces about pollinators and creatures that are able to change their appearance, either as predator or in defense. These are three dimensional copper pieces that have been hammered, etched, and enameled. I’m also developing a spring line of jewelry.
What showings/events/classes of yours should we look forward to?
The show at McGuffey opens in March. I’m also very excited about an opening of my work at Lynne Goldman Elements in April. In addition, I will be teaching Intro to Metalwork workshops in April, May, and June. I will also be teaching enameling workshops during that time.
What advice do you have for anyone who wants to pursue a career as an artist?
Jump in now! Find a teacher or just do what comes from your heart, but don’t wait for the perfect time!
What makes Cville special for artists of all forms?
For me it’s the laid back lifestyle yet close proximity to DC, Alexandria, and Baltimore.
Favorite place in Cville to… be creative?
My studio, hands down!
Favorite place in Cville to… see art?
I don’t have a favorite but I do like to take advantage of the many opportunities in and around Charlottesville that show such a wide range of art.
Favorite place in Cville to… grab a bite?
Christian’s Pizza, Now and Zen, and Hamilton’s.
Favorite place in Cville to… get a drink?
Miller’s in the winter and Skybar in warmer weather.
Any other Cville favorites?
One of my favorite Cville features is, in warm weather, walking the mall and enjoying all the people sitting outside having a drink and a bite to eat.
Lastly… Describe yourself in 10 words or less.
An enthusiastically creative individual who loves friends and family.