Art appreciation in Port Warwick this weekend – Daily Press

Seven or eight years ago, Jill Stasium, an oil painter from Jersey City, NJ, sold a few pieces to a New York businessman.

His name was Bobby Freeman, and he was so fascinated by his work that he suggested he come to Virginia for an annual art show when he was developing in Newport News. She accepted it and has since exhibited her paintings at the Port Warwick Festival of Art and Sculpture.

This year’s festival is on Saturday and Sunday, starting at 10 a.m. each day.

“People who come to the show are always a very good caliber of people who understand fine art,” Stasium said. “I do a lot of exhibitions, and in some of them people are just looking for the print. In Port Warwick there’s an obvious appreciation for original paintings, and that’s one of the things I’m looking for when I do an exhibition.

Debi Ernest, executive director of the Port Warwick Foundation, said this year’s festival will feature the work of around 80 artists in a dozen different media. She said the work will span a wide variety of sizes and price ranges.

Now in its 11th year, the art and sculpture festival features food vendors and live music, plus the chance to meet performers from across the East Coast.

“The square is such a nice setting,” Ernest said. “People just come for a walk and listen to music, eat and see different works of art. Throughout the year we have a committee looking for artists to come here. We always make sure that it’s original and not manufactured. We want to stay true to that.”

This year’s entertainment program includes popular local bands such as Mercy Creek, Narissa Bond, Ron Fetner and Jackie Scott and the Housewreckers. There will also be performances by the Arts Ballet Company of Newport News.

There will be a Young Collectors Tent, where students can purchase and learn about artwork.

“Money from the Young Collectors Tent will be used to purchase three tents and a booth for emerging artists,” Ernest said. “It’s our way of giving back to certain artists who are rising but who may not yet have the money to do festivals.”

Brian Murphy, an oil painter who grew up in New York, has attended every Port Warwick art and sculpture festival since the first in 2005. It was at this inaugural event that he met his wife, Anne. They got married less than a year after this festival.

He moved to Newport News, and today he and his wife operate the Murphy-Montgomery Fine Art Gallery in Port Warwick. Murphy said he looks forward to the festival every year — partly for sentimental reasons, partly to promote the gallery, but mostly because it’s a good art show.

“The venue and the square itself is a great place for a show like this,” he said. “Also, the quality of the art is very high, considering it’s a relatively small boutique exhibit. It’s the kind of exhibit you want to be a part of.”

Holtzclaw can be reached by phone at 757-928-6479. Follow his entertainment blog at

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Want to go?

What: Port Warwick Art and Sculpture Exhibition.

Or: Port Warwick Square in Newport News.

When: 10am-6pm Saturday, 10am-5pm Sunday.

Admission: Free.

Schedule of activities: Saturday — 10 a.m. Ron Fetner; 11:30 a.m. Kim Person and Lana Puckett; 1 p.m. Dustin Furlow; 2:30 p.m. Jackie Scott and the Housewreckers; 4 p.m. Doug Allen Wilcox; 5 p.m. Barbara Martin. Sunday — 10 a.m. Narissa Bond; 11:30 a.m. Dikon and Vallet; 1 p.m. Matt Thomas; 2:30 Swing sound; 4 p.m. Mercy Creek.

Information: 757-223-0284 or

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