Tidewater Women’s Fran Ward recently interviewed Constance Fahey, director of The Artists Gallery in Virginia Beach.
Tidewater Women (TW): Constance, I’m pleased to meet you. The first time I saw you, you were walking up to receive an Alli Award from the Cultural Alliance of Greater Hampton Roads.
Constance Fahey (CF): Thank you. That was a big surprise!
TW: There were whoops and hollers and great applause. It sounds as if you have many supporters. What was the award for?
CF: Let me read the plaque: “Alli Award for Small Business: The Artists Gallery, Constance Fahey.” It honors individuals and organizations who work to sustain the region’s arts industry.
TW: 2014 was a big year for you. Didn’t you recently receive other recognition?
CF: Yes, I was presented with a Proclamation by the Mayor’s Office of Virginia Beach, designating November 6th 2014, Constance Fahey Day. It reads: “Congratulations to Constance Fahey for her life’s dedication to art and the arts community.”
TW: Congratulations. Tell the readers something about yourself, please?
CF: I paint five days a week. I have lived by the sea all my life and have a passion for the ever-changing beauty of the ocean. It inspires how I paint. I have to paint marine life, sand dunes, and the environment. I hope my paintings inspire the preservation of our shores and sea life so that they can be seen by many more people to come.
TW: Have you always been an artist?
CF: I have always painted. And my studies have always been in art—from the University of Miami to William and Mary to George Mason. Art was my hobby until I married a naval officer, moved back to Virginia Beach and joined Tidewater Artists, now called Tidewater Art Alliance.
TW: Have you always been actively involved in artist groups?
CF: Yes, both in already established groups and in developing new groups and activities.
TW: Such as?
CF: The Boardwalk Art Show and Stockley Gardens. And I am proud to be a founding member of the Artists Gallery Co-op.
TW: How did that come about?
CF: Founded in 1989, The Artists Gallery started out just as studio space. Then artists needed to display their work, so we added gallery space. Then it became a co-op so we could pay the rent. Then we incorporated. Twenty years later, we have forty artists, all creative differently. We provide space for creating, exhibiting, and showcasing original, fine art by local and regional artists. The Gallery is managed entirely by its artist members.
TW: What is your involvement?
CF: I have been director for twenty-five years. I have grown with it. We have artists, a board of directors, members; contributors; and we, in turn, donate to charitable organizations.
TW: What kind of artists?
CF: Resident artists work in their studios. They love to meet visitors to the gallery and talk about current projects. There are also exhibiting artists, associate artists, invitational artists, and others.
TW: Who are the others?
CF: There are volunteers and levels of supporting members, including VIP. Support helps us continue bringing art events and programs to the community. We host free exhibitions monthly for the public and offer educational workshops.
TW: This refers back to your Alli Award: “For outstanding contributions to the cultural life of Greater Hampton Roads.”
CF: Yes. We are almost ready to apply for 501c3, nonprofit tax status for an organization with activities of educational and charitable purposes.
“Fabulous Forgeries,” our most popular exhibit opens January 9, 2015 and ends February 1. The annual exhibition and sale give tribute (realistically or humorously) to The Great Masters by recreating their paintings, this year from the Chrysler Museum. We are happy that proceeds benefit one of our most deserving charities.
TW: My final interview question is always: “What would you like the readers of Tidewater Women to know?”
CF: It is never too late to follow your passion and achieve your dream. In my case--a working studio in a very successful artists cooperative close to the sea!
For more information, contact Constance Fahey at 757-425-6671 or visit www.theartistsgallery.org. The Artists Gallery, An Artists’ Cooperative, Studios & Gallery, is located at 608 Norfolk Avenue in Virginia Beach.