Dorothy Gillespie outdoor sculpture exhibit ends Monday

Photos courtesy of the Radford Visitor’s Center – More than 50 of renowned artist Dorothy Gillespie’s colorful sculptures have been dotting Radford’s landscape for the past several months.The art will move on to North Carolina June 15.

RADFORD – Visitors and residents in the New River Valley have only a short time left in which to enjoy Dorothy Gillespie’s brightly colored outdoor sculptures throughout the City of Radford.

The exhibit, which celebrates the centennial anniversary of Gillespie’s birth in nearby Roanoke, ends on June 15. The sculptures will be picked up and trucked to the Cameron Art Museum in Wilmington, N.C.

The collection of more than 50 works features a variety of large and small enamel-painted aluminum sculptures that once were part of a major exhibit in the Channel Gardens at New York City’s iconic Rockefeller Center.

Gillespie, an internationally recognized sculptor and painter, passed away in 2012 but is well-known in Southwest Virginia. From 1981 to 1983, she served as a visiting professor at Radford University, was on the faculty of the 1986 Virginia Governor’s School for Visual and Performing Arts held at RU and eventually was named a Distinguished Professor of Art at the university. She also is largely responsible for the establishment of the university’s permanent art collection.

A large collection of her works will still be on display in this region in two separate exhibits when Roanoke’s Taubman Museum of Art reopens, according to Gary Israel, Gillespie’s son. One of the exhibits, titled “Dorothy Gillespie: Still Enchanting Virginia’s Blue Ridge,” features works from private collectors in the New River Valley, including several City of Radford residents. In addition, one of the artist’s pieces, located in the Mary Draper Ingles Cultural Heritage Park, will remain on loan to the Glencoe Mansion Museum & Gallery. 

Israel said he’s happy that the citizens of Radford got to enjoy the art.

“My mother believed in public art and often said that people should be able to grow up with art and live with it,” he said. “She felt it was not just something to go see in a museum.”

The Radford installation has been made possible through the efforts of the Dorothy Gillespie Foundation, the Radford City Council and the Radford tourism commission with assistance from the Beautification and Municipal Forest Commission and the Radford public works department. More information about the Public Art program is available at VisitRadford.com/ArtTrail.

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