Rob BrowningWalking through various areas of Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital, one is struck by the artwork and the varying levels of the artists’ work. The art ranges from surrealism to realism to whimsical to abstract. Among the artists is Lake Monticello resident Rob Browning.

Successful artists are often very reflective, searching for life’s answers through their work. Browning embodies these traits, including being shy, gentle and gifted. Like other artists, he becomes energized when talking about his work or the work of others.

“I don’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t interested in art,” said Browning. “I don’t know where my interest came from. There weren’t many artists in my family or artists I knew in the area.”

Browning grew up in Fluvanna and is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond with a degree in communications art and design, and has won numerous awards for his work. He started out in advertising doing illustrations.

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Tapestry by Wendy CharltonWendy Charlton, a former Fluvanna County High School teacher who now works in grants administration at the University of Virginia, has an unusual hobby: tapestry weaving.
Tapestry weavers are artists, Charlton said, who are separate from weavers who make utilitarian objects like rugs or scarves.

“Tapestry weavers make the kind of art that is usually intended to put on the walls – although of course the line between art and craft is almost impossible to define. Tapestry is usually considered a craft medium,” she said.

Charlton uses a simple loom to create art with yarn, whereas other weaving requires floor looms with multiple shafts. Her loom accommodates pieces up to 32 inches wide.

Her fascination with weaving began in an art class on tapestry in high school. While other students were bored in the class, Charlton was fixated on the way yarn could be used to create a landscape or other pictures. Add a comment


Susan Beattie  and her husband, Troy Weidenheimer.Those who rub shoulders with Susan Beattie of Palmyra in the Fluvanna Leadership Development Program usually have no idea she used to work with the greatest names in folk music.

Beattie, who refers to herself as “homely” at that time in her life, may have seemed like a wallflower, but she had one of the best seats in the world as secretary for a New York City attorney’s office that functioned as a talent booking agency.

After growing up in Union, Mo., Beattie was awed by New York. “Imagine how I wandered around!” she said.

Her job at Len Rosenfeld’s place, as it was known, was to help with arranging recording contracts and booking.

“The biggest name in the office was a blues singer named Josh White,” said Beattie. White filed the first civil rights act suit in the state of Maryland against public accommodations because somebody refused to serve him in a bar, Beattie said. “He won and we went back there and had a drink!”

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Painting by TartaglinoBecause his last name seems unpronounceable to most, Tom Tartaglino (the “G” is silent) is known in the community and in local art circles as Tom T. But most know him by his massive panoramic oil paintings often composed on non-traditional supports, such as doors. Tartaglino’s work speaks for itself in its bold realism.

At its monthly meeting Feb. 17, the Fluvanna Art Association welcomed Tartaglino and engaged in a lively discussion about oil painting and how he takes an idea and builds on it layer by layer.
Like many artists, Tartaglino felt artistic yearning early but never acted on it until he was 40, he said. He earned his degree in art from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), studying painting and printmaking.
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Persimmon Tree PlayersIt has been 13 years since Warren Johnson joined the Persimmon Tree Players (PTP), Fluvanna’s only community theater group. The group has been in existence and entertaining audiences for over 25 years.  Johnson joined up with PTP when the group of dedicated thespians had dwindled to a small ensemble and were trying to get some momentum going again.

Johnson, who is leaving his post as pastor of the Fork Union Baptist Church, will be returning to his home town of Franklin, Va., to become pastor at the Baptist church there. Johnson admitted it was a difficult choice to leave behind his parishioners and the theater group, but the idea of returning to his boyhood home exerted a strong influence. Add a comment