Bower Center is home to working studios of local artists covering many disciplines from painting with oils, watercolors, acrylics, to mosaics, installation art, photography, stained glass, sculpture, torn paper collage, pottery, and more.
Most studios are open to the public during Bower Center hours of operation.
Fine Art Photography, Mixed Media Art
Virginia Lee Dickens (a.k.a. FRATCH), born in 1963, is a photographer, artist, and graphic designer. She graduated in 1984 from the Ringling College of Art and Design. Her major was illustration. Directly after Ringling, she continued her studies in Advanced Portfolio at the School of Visual Arts, NYC.
Virginia began her professional career freelancing at several well known New York advertising firms and illustrationing for the publishing industry. In 1987 she established Visions Advertising, a firm with its roots in publishing. By 2006 the firm began specializing in Retail Technology. She packed up the paints and got down to the nitty gritty of computer generated design and marketing. Indeed, these were the skills which would lead to her photography passion and mixed media direction. “I loved the fact that I could combine so many of my skills to create unique and personal works of art,” says Virginia.
In 2009, a Near Death Experience (NDE) opened up a strong spiritual relationship with nature, human consciousness and her understanding of death and grief. While weed whacking in the yard, she disturbed a yellow jacket nest and was overcome by bee stings. The paramedics and her family were instrumental in saving her life. What the artist experienced that day soon became the underpinning of her latest creations.
Virginia creates her art by combining her photographs, paintings and sketches in Photoshop. The mixed media piece is then built up layer-by-layer, adding pieces of her photographs as she goes. Virginia says, “When I create my art, I fall away from myself... almost trance-like. I feel I am simply the conduit for some other intention.” These creations may have 60 layers or more and take 20 hours to complete.
Virginia prints her creations on many varied substrates, including canvas, metal and fine art paper in her studio. She assembles the frames and hand stretches her canvas works. Some canvas prints receive another round of painting with acrylics and gel mediums.
In 2015 Virginia sold her home of 18 years in Montville, NJ. She parted with most all of its contents and purchased a small motorhome. After spending the better part of 3 years exploring and photographing the United States and Canada, the artist has now settled down near her mom, in Bedford, VA. Virginia says she is looking forward to beginning the next chapter in her life and continuing to pursue her passions for making new friends and creating art in all forms.
Interpretive Exhibit Designer, Content Developer, Visual Artist
Painter, Stained Glass
What I like most about art is that it gives you an outlet for your creative mind, a world in which there are no hard and fast rules. I also like making art because it creates beauty and it inspires and elevates people. Heaven knows, we all need more beauty, elevation and inspiration in our lives! It feels good to me to be a part of something that does this for people.
I love the challenge of painting with watercolors! Although I also work in acrylic and pencil, watercolors are my preferred medium. Painting allows me to take the chaos of the world and to slow it down. To focus on my subject matter and create how I see the subject using pigment and water is my personal form of meditation. Painting layer upon layer of watercolor glazes gives me the depth and light I see in my subject matter and enables me to share that vision with my audience.
Suzanne V. Paddock
Suzanne V Paddock grew up in Putnam County, NY and earned a BS in Visual Arts at SUNY New Paltz in 1993. Her early career was in production at various places including Archie Comics, in Mamaroneck, NY. Her next big step was into a community of outsider artists in the Hudson Valley which garnered exhibits, studio tours, and representation at Varga Gallery in Woodstock, NY.
Paddock moved to Central VA in 2012 and joined the local arts community of Bedford County in electrifying its’ amazing potential. She was a founding member of the first co-op art gallery in the town of Bedford, worked at the Sedalia Center, in Big Island, taught drawing classes, presented art talks, held studio tours, and showed in solo exhibits. Paddock joined the exhibition committee at Bower Center for the Arts, in the town of Bedford, in 2015. In early 2019, she was asked to assist in curating “This Is Our Service: America’s Veterans Make Art”, an exhibit presented by Bower Center in partnership with the National D-Day Memorial to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of D-Day.
Her most recent adventures were in Lynchburg and included completion of the Artthrive business for artists program at Riverviews ArtSpace in 2018, participation in Art on Main at Bailey Spencer Hardware, and competition in the 5th Annual Riverfront Chalk Festival and Art contest at Amazement Square. In 2020, she was awarded a grant from the James River Arts & Cultural District Program for her solo exhibit at Riverviews ArtSpace, “Coincidental Feminists: The Women Portrait Project”, a continuing series exploring interconnectivity between feminism and beauty.
Paddock works most often out of a residential second story studio, enjoying tree-house views and a small murder of crows for company. Studio tours are offered by appointment. She is currently represented by the Market Gallery in Roanoke, VA, and co- chair of the Exhibition Committee at Bower Center. Over the years her work has been accepted into several judged and juried shows across the country, honored with awards on four separate occasions, and supported with a James River Arts & Cultural District grant from the city of Lynchburg, VA.
Oils, Wire Sculpting "Wire Woods and other Whims"
My artistic talents developed right alongside this furred and feathered obsession and for thirty years I painted animal portraits. Stepping outside of my comfort zone in 2002 I began producing works from my head and heart and exploring new mediums. Wire sculpting, oil painting and the study of trees and water are all current areas of interest My work has been featured on the covers of an international veterinary magazine and homes across the country.
The timeless beauty and versatility of ancient mosaics and the ease with which it integrates into modern society is what attracted Stone to this medium. Creating mosaics and inspiring others to enjoy, appreciate and learn about this versatile art through exhibiting and teaching is her passion.
Dawn Richerson - 2022 Recipient of Suzie Viemeister Emerging Artist Residency Program
Dawn is an artist who is inspired by the soul of place and the natural world. On long walks in the woods, she often documents what she sees and experiences with photography and writing. Later, she takes these field notes and explores her subject matter further, primarily through painting.
Her paintings are both an interpretation of and an invitation to the story of life unfolding around us and within us. During her residency, she hopes to explore the natural beauty of Virginia through painting and photography. Dawn has always wanted to live in a rural area and has recently relocated to Bedford County.
"It is the experience of life that is at the heart of who I am and what I do," she says. "I think it is the desire to reconnect with life and all that is alive in me that is at the core of all my expression. I hope my paintings connect those who encounter them with that sense of wonder—and even mystery."