2017-09-06 / Families & Friends

Pro-Art — For all the arts

By JON HENRIKSON

Up Payne Gap and over Pine Mountain into Wise County, Virginia, there is another world that few Letcher Countians seem to know about or enjoy.

For over 40 years Pro- Art Association has offered close by, wonderful, free or inexpensive, artistic and educational program opportunities for our adults and youth.

It’s time that many more Letcher Countians cross the state line to treasures of drama and all kinds of music offered at the J.W. Adams School Perform Arts Center in Pound on U.S. 23, the University of Virginia at Wise, and Mountain Empire Community College on U.S. 23 in Big Stone Gap.

Already this season Pro- Art has provided for free, the excellent Tri-Cities regional Symphony of the Mountain, performing by the lake at UVA-Wise with a beautiful Irish tenor, and the U.S. Navy Bluegrass/Country Band playing amazingly at the J.W. Adams School.

This coming week the best fun-filled Shakespeare I’ve ever seen will be put on at UVA-Wise’s Gilliam Art Center by the American Shakespeare Center from Staunton, Va., with “The Taming of the Shrew” on Monday, Sept. 11, at 7:30 p.m., plus Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility” at 3 p.m. on Sept. 10. Later in the week Grammy winner Dave Eggar will play his wild classical to jazz cello music to limited seating at UVAWise’s Gilliam Center on Thursday, Sept. 14 at 8 p.m.

On Sept. 22 at 7 p.m., there will be a concert at Mountain Empire Community College as part of the Big Stone Gap Celtic Festival that has brought outstanding performers from the British Isles to Wise County. Rounding out Pro-Art program for the next month will be a presentation on “The Comic Book in Film” by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts at UVA-Wise’s Cantrell Hall on September 27 at 7 p.m., and another Symphony of the Mountains concert at the J.W. Adams School on Oct. 1 at 3 p.m. featuring George Gershwin’s jazzy piano “Rhapsody in Blue” and Resphigi’s beautiful “Pines of Rome”.

These and the rest of Pro- Art’s free or inexpensive season program, including Barter Theater, Montana Repertory Theatre and Virginia Opera and Ballet, can be best and most cheaply enjoyed by purchasing season tickets at the door for prices ranging from $15 for K-12 students, $40 for adults $35 for senior like me, or $110 for a whole family pack — a great deal for 2+ adults/ seniors and 2+ children in the same household. I wish our Letcher County schools would take advantage of this great educational opportunity.

Letcher County has been culturally blessed by our Appalshop’s films, radio, theater, concerts and art exhibits, by our traditional mountain square dance at Carcassonne and musicians including almost 90-year-old Lee Sexton, by good music on Main Street in Whitesburg, by excellent painters like Jeff Chapman- Crane and Doug Adams (whose watercolor of the Blackey School I gave to the Blackey Library), and by the wonderful new tradition of student musicals at Letcher County Central High School. But I ask you to look across the eastern horizon to all the fine arts opportunities offered by Pro-Art, for all the art that we can enjoy and that can make us more fully human. Once upon a time all of Kentucky was a county of Old Virginia, which is just over the mountain in Wise County.

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