Temperatures may be soaring, but before you know it we’ll be talking about football, snowfall, and holiday plans! With Santa Claus coming to town in just five short months, there’s no better time to start gathering gifts in all shapes and sizes. A one-stop shop for one-of-a-kind gifts sure to spread year-round joy is the Gallery at York Hall. This local gem at the corner of Ballard and Main Street not only acts as a welcome center for visitors, it also displays paintings, pottery, jewelry, stained glass, quilts, and other beautiful creations from more than 300 local artists. And right now the Gallery is having its first-ever Christmas in July Sale with 15% off everything.
Shopping for others always brings me joy! I can’t wait to share the gift with the person who inspired it. But in recent years I’ve had trouble thinking of a perfect present for those closest to me. You can probably relate—when you’ve bought gifts for someone (like your husband or mother) for so many years, you can feel like you’ve run out of ideas. That’s the great thing about shopping at the Gallery at York Hall—you’re not choosing from a selection of clothes, jewelry, and tech gadgets you’d find at a typical retailer; instead, you’re picking from an assortment of unique art. These are gifts they’ll cherish forever.
One of the best parts about shopping at the Gallery is knowing a portion of the proceeds from each purchase goes back into the community, supporting performing and visual arts in Historic Yorktown! These dollars help pay for events so many of us love, like the Celebrate Yorktown Committee Summer Concerts, free Virginia Symphony Concert at Riverwalk Landing every Labor Day Weekend (don’t miss it August 31 from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.), and the Lighted Boat Parade in December.
The Gallery at York Hall is a partnership between the Celebrate Yorktown Committee and York County, and is run solely by volunteers. So, shopping here means you’ll also be supporting the men and women who devote their time, energy, and love into keeping local artists’ work on display. Manager and full-time volunteer Sharon Owen opened the Gallery back in 2002. Back then, the only thing on display was quilts. Today, you’ll find gorgeous artwork at every turn. Sharon says the holiday artwork is always a big hit with customers. “They’re buying Christmas ornaments and anything Christmas right now,” Sharon told me. “Jewelry is a big seller all of the time. Right now we also have a lot of history books, and I’ve just gotten some new cookbooks.”
Most of the artists find out about the Gallery through word of mouth. That was the case for Christine Rich, who started putting her creations on display about three years ago. She believes Sharon is the key to the Gallery’s success. “She’s just a wonderful person and the most organized person I’ve ever known,” Christine told me. “She does an amazing job. That’s what makes it so easy for artists to go there. She’s a very friendly face and makes it run so well. It’s a very interesting gallery. I love getting people up there to see it.”
Christine’s best-selling pieces of art at the Gallery are owls made of oyster shells. These would be great gifts for that friend with a beach house. And her cat art is perfect for the feline lovers in your life. These gorgeous pieces are made using… of all things, coffee! It turns out a little caffeine really does go a long way. “I used coffee granules—you can’t just use plain coffee,” Christine shared. “You can’t get the colors that way. You have to use concentrated granules with just a little bit of water and you get some nice darks that way.”
Another local artist, Margaret Benton-Jones, discovered the Gallery at York Hall when a fellow artist invited her to take a trip there. “I was surprised how the Gallery is a treasure full of so many wonderful items from photography and historical books to local art,” she told me. “There are so many things to look at that you must visit often to see everything. I always discover something new each time I stop in.”
Margaret’s best-selling pieces at the Gallery are small paintings and glass-painted ornaments of the Yorktown Onion. The art you see below was inspired by the Fifes and Drums and the history of our area. Her acrylic painting, "Going to the Carrot Tree," represents her favorite place to grab a sandwich and delicious baked goods at Riverwalk Landing.
Each month, you’ll find new featured artists and interactive demonstrations in the lobby on Sundays. August’s special exhibition is already up and drawing lots of attention for its stunning photography of sunrises and sunsets on display. One of these would add a beautiful touch to any home! Click here for a printable version of the 2019 Exhibit Calendar.
Sharon says her favorite part of managing the Gallery is meeting people from all over the world. This year, more than 17,000 people are expected to pass through the doors! And she says none of it would be possible without the people who help her. “I have 30 volunteers who are very dedicated, and without them this wouldn’t exist. We can always use more volunteers!” If you’d like to support the Gallery at York Hall, Sharon would love to hear from you (757.890.4490).
We hope a trip to the Christmas in July Sale at the Gallery at York Hall will make your spirits bright this summer. To get 15% off, just mention “Christmas in July” when you get to the register with your fabulous finds. Remember, York County residents can also use their Citizen Rewards Card to get 10% off the Gallery any time of the year (click here for information on how to get a card). Hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday afternoons from 1 to 4 p.m. The Gallery is closed on Mondays.