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‘This Place Matters’: Evolve hosts grand opening to first art exhibit

By Staff | May 31, 2019

Mark Everhart, right, of Shepherdstown, speaks with artist Julia Springer about her digital artwork, during the grand opening for Evolve's first art show, "This Place Matters," on Friday evening. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN — Evolve’s first art show, which opened on Friday evening, is focused on highlighting the beauty of Shepherdstown, in connection with a national campaign held in May by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Twelve local artists’ works are on display at Evolve through Sunday.

The campaign and art show share the same title, “This Place Matters,” and, according to NTHP’s website, the purpose of the campaign is to encourage “people to celebrate the places that are meaningful to them and to their communities.” During the month of May, people are encouraged to take a photo of themselves holding a “This Place Matters” sign near a place that matters to them, and posting it online with the hashtag #ThisPlaceMatters. In return, NTHP would reveal its favorite photos at @SavingPlaces on Twitter and Instagram.

For the owners of Evolve, the art show was an opportunity to encourage more people to celebrate their community and join in the “This Place Matters” campaign.

“I wanted it to express our community, and the artists all had a different take on it. Artists always have an interesting perspective, and sometimes we non-artists take it for granted, but they take our love for these places and express it in a unique way,” said Evolve co-owner Jan Hafer. “Elise Baach and I put it together as a gift to the town.

“I’m very proud of Shepherdstown and the accomplished artists we have, and the beautiful buildings and sense of pride we have in our town. It’s always ‘evolving,’ just like our business’ name,” Hafer said, laughing.

Rebecca Ayraud, of Shepherdstown, looks at art in the "This Place Matters" exhibit at Evolve on Friday evening. Tabitha Johnston

According to Hafer, the exhibit’s artists were all local, and selected because they were known for creating locally-focused artwork. The inspiration for the exhibit, Hafer said, came from a lecture at the Robert C. Byrd Center on April 24 by NTHP Vice President Thompson M. Mayes, “Why Old Places Matter: How Historic Places Affect Our Identity and Well-Being.”

“We were inspired by his talk, and, of course, Shepherdstown is a historic town and we wanted to celebrate it,” Hafer said. “So we decided to have an art show.”

For featured artist Julia Springer, participating in the show was an opportunity to showcase three of her art pieces. Her art, which uses Adobe Photoshop on photographs she has taken, can now be printed on ceramic tile, metal or fabric, with a heat press and dye sublimation printer she has invested in.

“The spirit of the town — I think it’s a joyous place. My colors tend to be very vibrant, and I think that’s a reflection of the town as a vibrant place,” Springer said, mentioning each of her pieces reflects a different aspect of what makes Shepherdstown a place worth celebrating.

“They reflect the nature of Shepherdstown,” Springer said. “The library building most people view to be the heart of town, the church reflects the inclusivity of the place and the Freedom’s Run piece reflects the resilience of the people of the town.”