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!