Sunday, July 23, 2017

Article in the New Bern Sun Journal

Thank you Sun Journal for this nice article!

Cultural icon retires from retail, continues artistry

Sun Journal Staff

Jan Francoeur, left, and Virginia Spencer, recently hosted ArtWalk at Carolina Creations on Polloock Street, where Spencer is the new owner. Francoeur, who opened the business 27 years ago, remains as the resident artist. [CHARLIE HALL / SUN JOURNAL]

One of the origins of cultural fabric for downtown New Bern – Carolina Creations – is changing hands after nearly three decades.

Jan Fancoeur, a New Bern artistic icon who opened the longest-lasting art-related shop, has decided to retire as a store owner – although she will remain as the resident artist for Creations, 317 Pollock St.

The new owner is Virginia Spencer, who has lived in North Carolina since 1981.

“I have fallen in love with the New Bern area,” she said. “We have fabulous artists in our proximity as well as many talented artists within our state and our country. Carolina Creations has been my favorite store for quite some time and I am so pleased at the opportunity to take the reins.”

Francoeur has been not only bedrock of downtown retail and culture, but a mover and shaker in the overall art perspective that now permeates the core area.

She was around for the beginnings of MumFest, now the largest outdoor festival in the area.

She and friend Carol Tokarski, executive director of the Craven Arts Council, were instrumental in getting art into downtown, beginning a decade ago with Dickens of a Christmas murals in store windows, which eventually evolved into a month-long downtown holiday celebration.

“Jan’s gallery was the first to really invest in downtown New Bern; in effect, she was instrumental in creating the city’s art district,” said Tokarski, adding that Francoeur “has that rare combination of outstanding artistic ability and business and marketing sense that is critical to giving art a strong place.”

Francoeur first opened her shop on Middle Street and later moved to the first of two locations on Pollock Street.

“I have had the privilege to meet and work with hundreds of amazing artists and wonderful customers through the years, many of whom have become dear friends,” she said. “I’m ready to go back to being a full-time artist.”

She said that there were some rumors that she was leaving New Bern.

“I’m not going anywhere. My studio will still be just a block away from Carolina Creations. I will still be the featured artist at Carolina Creations and do all the pottery and paintings you’ve become accustomed to from me as well as the custom paintings, house portraits, baby sets, platters and tiles.”

Meanwhile, the new owner’s background has been quite varied, with focuses on pharmaceutical sales, retail florist, nursing, and five years as an officer in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps.

“As a florist, I studied and produced floral arts, earning recognition as a member of the American Institute of Floral Design,” Spencer said. “I look forward to moving on to a new challenge. My priority is to learn the business of Carolina Creations and become familiar with its operations. I want to meet the artists who have their art in our shop and look for a few new ones.”

She said that employees who have been a part of the shop will remain on board.

“New perspectives are sure to bring about change. I plan to seek new opportunities to share our art. But, please be assured that we will continue to deliver the same quality you have grown to expect from Carolina Creations,” she said. “Please share with me ideas you may have regarding your favorite art medium and any special areas where you are seeking just the right touch. I want to find the right artist to share your vision.”

Francoeur, whose designs grace many covers such as the annual homes tour guide, said she will continue to design her annual holiday ornament, calendars and Christmas cards.

“The difference is that I’ll have more time to create so you’ll be seeing more new work from me more often,” she added.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Road Trip to Michigan and NY

I left on a road trip the other day leaving Miss Julia in charge of the studio and house.

I thought I would drive out of the heat but it was 100 in Richmond so didn't stop like I had planned. Instead drove to Winchester, where my great great great grandfather lived and is buried.

I visited the Museum of the Shenandoah to see their seven acre garden.

The pictures seem a little hazy, there had just been a huge downpour.

The seven-acre gardens that surround the Glen Burnie House are both impressive and intimate. Designed by MSV benefactor Julian Wood Glass Jr. and his partner at the time, R. Lee Taylor, the creation of these formal gardens began in 1956 and evolved over the latter half of the twentieth century. Today the MSV maintains this living collection in a manner that is considerate of the garden creators’ vision for the landscape.
The Glen Burnie Gardens invite discovery and were designed to support formal entertaining. Boxwood plantings are present throughout the site and create the Parterre Garden and Knot Garden. Just redesigned and replanted, the Rose Garden is comprised of hundreds of individual plants, and the Perennial Garden presents flowers in a rainbow of colors summer through fall. The Vegetable Garden is planted in a formal pattern that changes annually. Bordering the northern edge of the property, Kathie's Spring Garden was added to the formal landscape in 2015. The new garden boasts a pond and a variety of trees, shrubs, bulbs, and spring ephemerals.
The landscape also includes a garden of Asian influences and a Water Garden, where golden trout swim in a spring-fed pond and water cascades down a natural embankment. The Pink Pavilion and Fountain Courtyard, frequently used for entertaining, are also visitor favorites. In addition, the historic Wood and Glass Family Cemetery is part of the landscape.
Currently undergoing a multi-year restoration project, the Glen Burnie Gardens are open for self-guided tours from April through December. Read more about the garden renovations in the MSV Garden Blog.
The Glen Burnie House sits on land that Winchester founder James Wood surveyed, claimed, and then settled in 1735. The oldest portions of the house were built by Wood’s son Robert in 1794 and 1797. After passing through generations of Wood and Glass families, the 254-acre Glen Burnie property came to be owned by Wood descendant Julian Wood Glass Jr. (1910–1992) in the 1950’s. Glass preserved and renovated his ancestral home from 1958 to 1959. Then, aided by his partner at the time R. Lee Taylor, he transformed the house into an opulent country retreat surrounded by six acres of formal gardens and furnished with one of the most remarkable private collections of decorative arts ever assembled in the Shenandoah Valley.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

New Chapter

Today was my last official day at Carolina Creations! I'll still be helping a little until Virginia is comfortable with all our moving parts, she will still be selling my paintings, pottery, and all the other art I make. The difference is that I'll just have more time to do the artwork.

It's been 27 years! Wow!

I'm excited about my new chapter, with more time to make art, explore, visit, travel, garden, read, and stare out at the river. My only regret is that Michael isn't here to share it with me.

I've made so many good friends through Carolina Creations, met thousands of people, hundreds of artists, it's been wonderful.

I'll continue to write this blog, and share all my new work, travels, even new things at Carolina Creations.

I've been doing quite a few commissions, LOTS of pottery, and I'm getting ready to do some mosaic work.

Here is one of the commissions I just finished.

And another that is almost done.

Have a great day, Jan.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

New Paintings at Carolina Creations From Mike Rooney

We've been representing Mike Rooney since he started painting full-time in 2007.

This year he's staying in North Carolina for the summer spending his days painting and evenings playing the steel drums on Topsail!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A Tour of Italy Installment 10 Last day in Italy and Home Again

On our last day we took a tour of ancient Rome (not that what we'd seen already wasn't ancient). I purposely did not wander into this area of town when I was exploring because I knew we’d be there on a tour. 

I’m so glad I didn’t because the area is HUGE, I would have been overwhelmed on my own.

On the way to the Forum

The only part of a Roman road remaining.

To think chariots rolled where we walked.

What a trip, now I’m anxious to go back and visit further south along the coast.

Maybe next year!

If you are are interested in seeing some of the paintings I do of my trip please email me by clicking here and I’ll send you a link once the paintings are done.

Home felt good, I needed a rest!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

A Tour of Italy Installment 9 Rome

Walking from our hotel again, I visited many of the cities fountains and Piazza's, did some window shopping and stopped for some gelato!

The Trevi Fountain, built in 1762 - and yes I threw a coin over my shoulder to assure that I'll return to Rome.

The Fiumi Fountain was finished 1651. The fountains, in addition to being beautiful, provided water for the neighborhoods.

On the same Piazza Navono was this restaurant, I may have to do a painting of this!

The Spanish Steps, sadly with no flowers, still impressive - I did NOT climb them!

I stopped at this beautiful restaurant and bar for gelato (my favorite is lemon) and a cappuccino.

Again I don’t usually take photos of my food but I could not help it!

I don't know what that red & blue thing was but it was yummy!

The Pantheon, in continuous for almost 2000 years.

Fountain San Rocco

Next post - last day in Rome!

Monday, June 05, 2017

A Tour of Italy Installment 8 Pompeii and Arriving in Rome

After leaving Sorrento we drove to Pompeii

These trees are called Mediterranean Pines.

Amazing frescos still exist.

Some original mosaics too.

The ruins are huge and its mind boggling to think how old they are - they were buried in 79 AD. We were told they are not doing any new excavations right now due to the cost, they are concentrating on preserving what they have already uncovered. Why are the ruins still there having nothing built on top of them? It seems because throughout history since the Volcano eruption people knew where Pompei was supposed to be there was just no interest in uncovering it until around 1750. 

The ash was 28 feet deep in many places. While bodies rotted away under the ash, the ash created a hard shell around the body. They knew a body was there because the bones were there, they injected cement into the cavities and got a cast of the body. Some of these I’m told are touring around the country.

The hike through these ruins is not easy, and it did some of our people in. Many people developed rashes on their ankles. I read about it and its called Golfers Vascaulitis, from too much exercise and heat combined. I got it for the first time ever and I’m used to walking till I drop. 

The we arrived in Rome…. I never expected to like Rome but as it turns out I LOVED it. Everything is so big, and because of that even with a ton of tourists the city can accommodate them all and there are lots of out of the way streets and alleys where all you might see are a few people.

Our hotel was just 8 or so blocks from the Vatican.

There are lots of fabulous museums and of course Vatican City. By being on a tour we got to enter at 8 am and there weren’t more than a hundred people in the Sistine Chapel when we were there and not more that three hundred in St Peters Basililica - a building that can hold tens of thousands. 

The reason you can take photos in the Basicilla and not the Sistene Chapel is that in the Basicilla the artwork is done in mosaic and in the Sistine Chapel the artwork is painted. The Chapel was cleaned about 25 years ago to show the beautiful colors, up until then the paintings were almost black from the soot from candles and torches through the years.

The Swiss Guard.

Trump was visiting the next day so we were lucky to get in and out easily. That afternoon I walked the 6 blocks to cross the river into the downtown. 

And walked for about 5 hours looking at all the beautiful fountains, shops and ruins. What a beautiful city.


On the Piazza del Popolo I had lunch and people watched.

Just two short blocks from our hotel was the Castel St Angelo, built in 124AD. While it doesn't look like much from the outside the museum it holds is fabulous, there is a restaurant on the top, and a brick walkway between it and the Vatican in case a Pope was deemed in danger, he would have a quick way to get to its safety.


Next post, more wandering in Rome!