CULTURE- ART FEATURE-</span>Crafty collective: Waynesboro's stellar stash

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You've probably had this experience. You hear about something intriguing not too from Charlottesville and make a mental note to check it out. Yet months— maybe even years— go by without your ever putting that plan into motion (although you periodically think, "You know, I really should...").

Case in point: the Artisans Center of Virginia (ACV), located a zing over Afton in Waynesboro. Every month I get announcements describing its interesting exhibitions. But until last week I'd never made it to see the venue for myself. I'm not sure what I expected, but the ACV was an eye-opening surprise.

Located in a corner of the nondescript Willow Oak shopping plaza, just beyond an empty storefront next to Advance Auto Parts, the ACV doesn't exactly impress from the outside. But its doors open onto an unexpectedly large space brimming with first-rate crafts of every conceivable variety (the only restriction binding the ACV's 240+ members is work must not be two-dimensional— but even that rule seems bendable given several fabric and paper objéts d'art on display).

In addition to the nonprofit's vast retail area, the Center also contains two galleries. The front space hosts monthly showcases of individual members' endeavors. Currently, ceramics artist Janice Arone is exhbiting her playful and textured tea services atop furniture-maker Joe Sheridan's rustic tables with legs crafted from knotty maple branches. 

The joy of Arone's vessels, whether handbuilt or wheel-thrown, are their unexpected elements— a small bird may form the handle on teapot's lid, or beads might sparkle from wires embedded in the clay. Meanwhile Sheridan's furniture looks lifted from a fairytale; its branches' natural twists and turns make the tables and stools seem almost alive. His children's chairs, featuring Shaker Tape-woven checkerboard seats, are particularly charming.

The ACV also houses a second gallery dedicated to juried guild exhibitions. These six-week shows frequently pull in exemplary work from across the nation. Through September 5, "Capital Area Woodturners" presents 34 pieces by nine D.C.-area woodworkers. 

Among the show's highlights are Ed Karch's "Interstices" series of pecan vases, embellished with lacy cutouts (created with a dentist's drill!) and spot-colored with acrylics. Another striking piece is Jonathan Hess's large cherry platter: Hess has used five large copper staples on the lip to bridge a natural crack in the wood while filling several crevices in the bowl with turquoise.

Who knew a visit to a Waynesboro shopping plaza would prove so visually rewarding?

Janice Arone and Joe Sheridan's show, "Ceramics and Rustic Furniture," is on view at the Artisans Center of Virginia through August 31. The "Capital Area Woodturners" exhibition runs through September 5. 801 W. Broad St., Waynesboro. 540-946-3294.