MILFORD—If all goes well, a new arts center could open this summer in Bowling Green where artists could sell their work and students could take art classes.
The Caroline County Board of Supervisors gave its unanimous OK to a proposed arts center that will be located in vacant space in the old courthouse annex building.
It will be called the Sidney E. King Arts Center because it will house 12 original paintings by the artist, who died at age 95 in 2002 after spending much of his life in Caroline County. The paintings were commissioned by the National Park Service and were displayed at battlefields around Fredericksburg. A 13th painting will be displayed in the Caroline County Visitors Center.
Valued at $3,000 each, the paintings will be on loan to the arts center from the park service.
The supervisors agreed for the county to partner with the Bowling Green Arts Commission, Caroline County Public Schools, and the Caroline Historical Society to establish the arts center. The county will continue to maintain the utilities, wireless connection, insurance, and landscaping.
The arts center will occupy the area of the annex building from the lobby to the south end of building. The historical society houses artifacts in the north end of the building. A grand opening is planned for July.
The Bowling Green Arts Commission has received a $5,000 grant annually from the Virginia Arts Commission, and the Bowling Green Town Council has matched that grant. The funds have been used to promote art, especially in schools, through events showcasing artists.
The county’s department of economic development and tourism will list the arts center in its visitor guide and promote the center through the county’s visitors center and website.
Admission to the arts center will be free. Art classes, art instructors, and supplies for classes will require a fee. The arts commission will determine the fees and collect the fees.
Art classes for adults will be during the day and evening. The proposed classes will focus on oil painting, acrylic painting, watercolors, clay sculpture and pastels, according to a business plan for the center.
Classes for children ages 6-17 will be held during the weekdays in the summer and on weekends when school is in session. The proposed classes will teach drawing, acrylic painting, watercolors, monoprinting, silkscreen printing, paper mache, mosaic, clay sculpture, and pastels.
Artists will be able to sell art, including jewelry, framed paintings and pottery. A 20 percent commission will be paid to the arts center for each work sold. Art can be on display for up to 60 days.
Prints of King’s paintings will be sold in the arts center.
King traveled the country in a Model T Ford during the Great Depression and painted scenes in watercolor after losing his Boston art studio. He wound up almost penniless and stranded in 1939 in Fredericksburg, where he painted signs and drew newspaper advertisements. He worked at Quantico Marine Base during World War II and camouflaged combat aircraft and designed aircraft insignia and recruiting posters.
King married Peggy Taylor, and they lived in Caroline County in her ancestral home, ‘The Willows,’ near Bowling Green. She became his assistant and handled the business part of his career. He worked in a shed-like studio that he built near their home.
King painted nearly 200 historic murals in national parks across the eastern U.S. He worked six days a week into his 90s, painting landscapes, people, animals, flowers, still lifes, religious, and historical subjects. He also taught art in Caroline County, Warsaw and Tappahannock.