The “Portrait of Floyd exhibit currently running at The Jacksonville Center has generated more discussion in the community than most shows that run at the old dairy barn on Virginia Route 8 just south of Floyd.
The Center departed from its usual practice of using the Hayloft Gallery for shows featuring local artists and brought in North Carolina arts consultant David J. Brown — former assistant director at the Taubman Museum in Roanoke — to “curate” a project that it hoped would bring more widespread attention to the operation.
Brown recruited Norfolk-based photographer Glen McClure to shoot portraits of people from and visiting Floyd to create a black-and-white photography show called “Portrait of Floyd.” The Center recruited sponsors to help fund the show, including a $15 book of selected images from the show.
The result: 76 images, large and small, that overflows the Hayloft Gallery and fills the hallways and stairwell of the Center.
McClure is an accomplished portrait photographer with a strong reputation. His photos, taken over two days spent in Floyd, include those who wandered by on Friday nights and a selected group of others like musician and instrument builder Arthur Connor and local businessman and former Supervisor David Ingram.
The display has brought mixed reviews: Some like it, some say it’s too dark, proving the old adage that art is indeed in the eye of the beholder.
McClure’s work is good but I have two problems with the project: I’m not sure that two days in Floyd is enough to capture a true portrait and I wish The Jacksonville Center had considered using the county’s excellent stable of portrait photographers like Jeri Rogers, Chelsa Yoder and Ladonna Cherrell Yearout-Patton.
But that’s just my opinion — nothing more, nothing less. I originally wrote a stronger piece about the show but pulled it after taking a second look.
The Jacksonville Center is free to do whatever it wants and resident of and visitors to Floyd are free to see the show and express their opinion. I think the show is worth seeing and urge folks to visit the Hayloft Gallery and make up their own minds.
The show runs through Nov. 24.
(Updated on Oct. 19 and again on October 25, 2012)
(WRITERS NOTE: Some of the comments below were posted in response to an earlier, more strident version of this article)