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Hampton’s Art Central is sought after to sell work and share ideas

Art Central in Hampton features work from owner Everna Taylor and 15 other local artists.
Photo by Nick McNamara
Art Central in Hampton features work from owner Everna Taylor and 15 other local artists.

Art Central in Phoebus has a waiting list of artists who want to show their work there because of its warm atmosphere, its administrator said.

Art Central Gallery’s mission is simple - be a place for local artists to sell their work.

Owned by artist Everna Taylor, it’s a perfect fit among Phoebus’ quirky vibe of unique restaurants, antique stores, independent bookstore and other small businesses.

There are two parts to the gallery: one side features Taylor’s work and the other side showcases pieces from 15 different Hampton Roads artists.

“We have so many talented artists in our area,” said the gallery’s fine arts administrator LaVonne Allen.

A self-taught artist, Taylor specializes in folk art.

“He considers himself a pictorial storyteller. In every one of his works, if you stand and look at it for a while, you will see a complete story,” Allen said.

Each month, there’s a different art show. Three generations are featured in the current show with works from Newport News native Jerome Johnson, his daughter, Janai Macklin, and her daughters (Johnson’s granddaughters) Kindell Macklin and Ryan Macklin.

“It’s rare we get three generations with so much talent. One of the granddaughters is only 15 years old. She has amazing talent. It’s in their genes,” Allen said.

Works by other artists include photos and paintings done in oil, acrylics plus mix media.

“Whenever you come in, you will see something different and unique,” Allen said.

There is art from a master woodcarver who Allen said, “has the most detailed work.”

The gallery is highly sought after by artists because of its reputation.

“We are running out of space. We have a waiting list,” Allen said.

Another reason artists want to sell their work there is because the artists support each other. They frequently bounce ideas off each other.

“Some galleries are cold. We have a warm atmosphere. We are like a family. I say I am the mom of the family with 14 children like the old lady who lived in the shoe,” Allen said.

In addition to selling art, there are periodic artist talks which allow people to get insight to the artist’s approach with their work.

The gallery recently got a boost along with four other Phoebus businesses with the receipt of a micro grant from the Retail Alliance and Phoebus Partnership as part of the Virginia Business District Resurgence from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.

In addition to the grant, they will receive retail technical consulting services.

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