NSA art show stays virtual

Published 2:22 pm Thursday, January 20, 2022

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The featured artist at this year’s 36th annual Nansemond-Suffolk Academy Art Show and Sale said she regrets that, for the second year in a row, the event cannot be held in person due to COVID-19.

On the other hand, in last year’s virtual format, Laura McGowan sold more of her oil paintings than in any other year she had participated in NSA’s show.

She and organizers for the art show accentuated the positive in the virtual format. Last year, artists sold about $90,000 worth of art, with about $40,000 of that returning to the school and its visual and performing arts programs. The other benefit for McGowan is that she can tell her contacts and collectors about the show, and they can buy art from the show wherever they are.

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“The good thing about it is that more people can see your work from no matter where they are,” McGowan said. “It’s hard because you don’t get to have the personal contact with people and talk with people that come to a show.”

McGowan said she likes that NSA asked not only for photographs of her artwork, but also for photos of the artwork in a frame for people to get a better idea of what they’re buying. The goal, according to NSA Director of Advancement Melissa Hlinovsky and art show co-chair Mary Kemple Henderson, is to answer any question a potential buyer might have, from the frame color, to the size of the mats in the frame and the size of the painting unframed. Camille Harrell is the other co-chair of the art show, and Director of Advancement Kenda Council along with other NSA staff and volunteers have key roles in making the show a success.

“I think that’s a real bonus for a lot of our patrons is that they’re able to measure their artwork,” Hlinovsky said. “And seeing that is helpful because a lot of people are like, ‘Oh, I think that’s so pretty, but I don’t think it’s going to fit.’ They’ve got all those specifics on our website, which is really fabulous.”

Beyond that, they had more than 7,000 visitors representing 23 countries perusing and purchasing the art online. NSA’s teachers incorporated the art in their lessons, and they will do so again this year.

During the show, which runs from Jan. 29 through Feb. 6 at www.nsaartshow.com, more than 130 artists from across Hampton Roads, North Carolina and beyond will have their works displayed on the website. All artists are listed in alphabetical order, and are also listed by their collection category — featured artist, multimedia art, flat art and past featured artists. The multimedia art includes works of glass, pottery, woodturning and more.

“Just like last year, we’re looking forward to sharing this virtual show with, really, the masses,” Hlinovsky said. “It was interesting to see how many people logged in last year (from) all over the world. That was one very interesting thing we don’t normally get. You have to normally be here in person, obviously, to see the show. But this virtual show reaches more people than we ever imagined.”

Hlinovsky said organizers kept the art show consistent with last year’s event, and customers had a good experience with the Shopify platform to pay for purchases. Henderson said when people see artwork on the site on one day, when they check the next day, there will be additional works posted the following day.

“There’s going to be continuous replenishment of artwork,” Henderson said. “Just like we do when we’re in person, we’ll continue to replenish artwork online. Just because you’ve bought one piece doesn’t mean you can’t come back and buy 20 more, because there’s new work every day.”

McGowan, who does the majority of her art out of a studio in the Historic Onancock School in  Eastern Shore hometown where she has lived for 27 years, delivered 40 of her paintings Jan. 19 to NSA, the last couple of which she was racing against the clock to finish ahead of the show.

Her work is inspired by Eastern Shore landscapes and seascapes, as well as from New Jersey, where she grew up near the beach. McGowan is also inspired by the light she observes at different times of the day that translates to her paintings. She also likes to do plein air paintings — working outdoors — and she doesn’t like to repeat subjects.

She learned from a previous featured artist, Carole Boggermann Pierson. The two are now friends and occasionally paint together. It was Pierson who first told her about NSA’s show.

“I was so excited when they asked me to be the featured artist back in the summer last year,” McGowan said.

Henderson said many who might not have been able to come to an in-person show have appreciated the virtual show. Doing such a show for the first time, the school didn’t know what to expect, but everyone was pleased by the outcome and they are expecting it to be another virtual success.

“I think it worked out really nicely last year,” Henderson said, “so I’m expecting it’ll be even better this year. … We’re looking forward to knocking it out of the park this year, and doing even better and reaching more people. We do have more artists this year, and those artists are very excited to see what the 2022 show has in store for them as well.”


2022 Nansemond-Suffolk Academy Art Show and Sale

When: 10 a.m. Jan. 29 through 4 p.m. Feb. 6

Events: Virtual Sponsors’ Reception from 6:30 p.m. Jan. 28 to 9:59 a.m. Jan. 29, Opening Day on Jan. 29, Kids’ Days on Feb. 5-6. Sponsors will receive messages from presenting sponsor Farmers Bank and NSA Head of School Debbie Russell along with a password to allow access to view and purchase art at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 28.

Viewing artwork: At www.nsaartshow.com, everyone is listed in alphabetical order and there are collections for featured artist Laura McGowan, previous featured artists, multimedia and flat art. Purchases can be made through the Shopify platform.

Artwork pick-up: All purchasers will schedule a time to pick up their artwork from NSA’s main campus Feb. 15-16. Options for pick-up times will be listed on a link on the website.

Art show sale and office hours: Anyone needing assistance during the show should contact NSA’s Office of Advancement from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., or contact Melissa Hlinovsky at mhlinovs@nsacademy.org.