I am often asked what made me move from Vermont to Virginia. The short answer is this, I blew my knees and couldn’t ski anymore. The long answer is a little more complicated.
A few years before it happened I began to think of where I might go if I did leave Vermont. I didn’t want to go back to New York as my life had changed since my days in the city. I had been reading about the rapid growth of the corporate world in the triangle of North Carolina and I began to make a few trips a year to Chapel Hill to search out that area. It was warmer climate, still relatively small towns but a potentially strong art market.
Driving from my home in Vermont to NC put Fredericksburg in the right spot to split the trip and a nice overnight. I made the trip so often that I began to make friends there. On one trip someone said “Why are you going to North Carolina, have you considered moving to Virginia?” I had not but since nothing was showing up in NC I began to use Fredericksburg as a base and I drove most of the state. I think I have the only map of Virginia that is inked out except for the corridor from Charlottesville and Gainesville. It is there that I zeroed in my search or a suitable property.
I found what appeared to be the right place in Culpeper. I put my property on the market and serious negotiations began. In the end the Culpeper deal fell through but I had a contract on my place in Vermont and I had 2 months to get out.
Now I’m back to searching NC and I found a farm in Winston Salem that I wanted to see. Driving from Fredericksburg to pick up RT 81 I passed through Orange. On Main Street I saw this huge empty building. It wasn’t what I was looking for but it was big and I had a lot of sculpture to move out of Vermont. If nothing else it would be a place to store everything. I stopped into the real-estate office in the next block and asked if the building was for sale. It was not. Did they know who owned it. They did. Would they call him and see if he wanted to sell it. We walked the building on a Tuesday and that Thursday I had made an offer on it subject to the town allowing me to rebuild the inside and to also include my residence in there.
After taking all of the measurements I drove back to Vermont and waited for a call from the town. The call was positive and I owned a building in Orange. Now the question was what was I going to do with it.
When I left Vermont it took two trailers to move all of the art and furniture. We put what we could carry into the basement of my new building and left the rest of the large sculpture outside in the parking lot. I moved into the second floor space, had a temporary shower and kitchen installed and began making the blueprints for the reconstruction. It was November 1993.
I acted as the general contractor and soon found the crew that I wanted to work with. I have to admit I wasn’t so sure about how the crew wanted to work with me. As far as they knew I was this Yankee from New York so what did I know about construction. We began the job on 3 January 1994. It didn’t take long before they found out that I knew what I was doing and we became a good team.
When we had 141 day left in my schedule I told them I wanted to have my opening in the gallery that June. They all said it was impossible to rebuild this whole building in that time. Having done it before I was confident it could be done. As an incentive I had a large flip chart made and put it in one of the front windows. It was a count down from the 141 days we had until my opening. Each day I would tear off a page. It got to a point where strangers on the street would ask me how many days we had left. The crew thought it was a joke until we crossed through 100 then the contest began. We beat the schedule by 3 days.
….and now you are up to date.
The archived posts can give you all of the background leading up to here if you like. If you don’t want to go digging I’ll do a repost one once in a while..