New art exhibit each month

Posted: November 4, 2012

The Winchester Star

An 1801 log building that served as a warehouse for the Burwell-Morgan Mill in Millwood has been restored and turned into a gallery for art and hand-crafted funiture by White Post residents Jon and Peggy Duvall. An artist’s reception will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. today. (Photo by Jeff Taylor/The Winchester Star)
Jon and Peggy Duvall of White Post have restored an 1801 log building that was a former warehouse for the Burwell-Morgan Mill in Milwood and turned it into Duvall Design Furniture and Art Gallery. (Photo by Jeff Taylor/The Winchester Star)

Millwood — Duvall Designs Furniture and Art Gallery is an intriguing study in contradictions.

For someone entering the gallery in Millwood, which opened Sept. 1, it is difficult to know what to look at first.

Jon and Peggy Duvall have restored the ground floor of the 1801 building they lease to highlight its most striking original features — an exposed timber ceiling, a stone fireplace, and log walls with stone and mortar chinking.

Then there is the work on the walls and placed around the room — many of them modern pieces that should look out of place in the setting, but draw from it instead. The Duvalls like contemporary and original art, and though they are not limiting themselves, that is what they believe will be the specialty of the gallery at 2053 Millwood Road, Peggy said.

“There are places in the area that do antiques and more traditional art. That is what they do, and they are good at it,” she said. “This is what we love, and usually you are better at something you love.”

The art will change at the beginning of every month and usually will bring together the works of a few solo artists, Peggy said. No admission fee will be charged.

In November, spread around the gallery and on the porch are kinetic steel sculptures by Peter Wood of Middleburg, Jon said. They range from small pieces that could sit on a table to much larger works.

In a large sculpture called “The Victory Dance,” the viewer can almost see the movement of the figure that has burst into dance. On the much smaller “Firebox,” the twisted metal seems to be leaping like flames.

For October, the walls were filled with pastels by Tia Maggio of Millwood. The paintings are abstractions of landscapes, many with easily recognizable features such as mountains, trees or cloudy skies.

Also exhibited last month were pottery and painted shoes by Yu-Fen Chang-Pett of Paris. and wooden bowls by Jim Pitzvada of Front Royal.

On the walls are works by Jillian Lum, who paints large-format oils of stylized faces. Lum, of Brooklyn, is Peggy’s daughter and Jon’s stepdaughter.

“They are bold and graphic stylized faces,” Peggy said.

Also on the walls are paintings by Leigh Henry, who does watercolor still lifes and landscapes, Jon said.

Jon’s custom-made furniture is always in the gallery. He uses only storm-damaged trees and salvaged wood to create pieces using his sawmill and wood kiln. Some of the items now on display are small and large tables, chairs, cutting boards, and even earrings.

Jon chooses the wood he uses based on the grain and the natural edge and then “cuts the forms to what they tell me to.”

Before the gallery, his woodworking skills were mainly demonstrated in the custom houses made by his company, Jon C. Duvall Design and Construction in White Post. He made cabinets, the front doors and often furniture for his clients.

The Duvalls moved from Winchester to a 60-acre farm in White Post five years ago and the economy has slowed down new construction, so Jon has had more time to work on the furniture pieces to sell individually. Meanwhile, Peggy started Twisted Oak Flower Farm on the property three years ago.

Jon’s larger wooden pieces are put together using simple designs and joinery, which he doesn’t try to hide, Peggy said. “The joinery is part of the art; it is not to be hidden.”

Since he does not like to let material be wasted, Jon uses some of his larger scrap pieces to make custom cutting boards, which are “both beautiful and functional,” he said. Even the smallest scraps are turned into carved wooden earrings with modern designs.

Having a place to showcase Jon’s art may have been part of the original idea for having a gallery, but the couple also loves art and saw a need to highlight the “great talent in our region,” Peggy said.

They knew about the building in Millwood, which sits next to the Locke Store and across from Burwell-Morgan Mill.

The building originally was a warehouse for the mill, later became a private residence and returned to storage space for Locke Store about 30 years ago. The Duvalls leased the building about four months ago from Juliet Mackay-Smith, who owns Locke Store, and began renovations, which involved removing boards that covered the walls and the ceiling to reveal the original wood underneath. Some of the boards were used to make a dividing wall on the ground floor that also provides extra hanging space.

The Duvalls plan to keep the gallery uncluttered, having enough art to give visitors a wide selection but not so much that individual pieces are lost, Peggy said.

By the end of the year, the couple plans to finish renovations on the second floor and expand the gallery, Jon said.

The couple hopes to draw on the tourist traffic attracted to Millwood and the surrounding area by the mill, Locke Store, local antique stores and the horse industry in Clarke County. Judging by the reactions from people who have visited so far, word of mouth also will be a help, Peggy said.

“People are always pleasantly surprised when they walk through the door,” she said. “The building itself doesn’t hurt, but they are also surprised by the quality of the work. People see it is culturally significant.”

Information

The Duvall Designs Furniture and Art Gallery is open from noon to 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday and until 8 p.m. on the first Friday of each month. An artist’s reception will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. today. Admission is free. For more information, contact Jon Duvall at 540-336-9632 or j@jonduvall.com.

— Contact Laura McFarland at lmcfarland@winchesterstar.com