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Farm Museum Provides a Coop for Artists

Art Displays at Museum

Jean McTigue of Sterling makes time for watercolor and charcoal, while raising five children under 10. Before McTigue pulls out paints, brushes and a clean canvas, she makes sure her children have something to do. "I don’t find time. I have to make the time," McTigue said. "And they help me out. I set them up with paper and projects."

McTigue waits until her two sons and three daughters have gone to bed, before she mattes and frames her projects. "It’s just easier that way," she said.

Originally from Long Island, N.Y., McTigue studied fine art formally at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and has mastered watercolor, charcoal, oil pastel and graphite media. She is a member of the Loudoun Sketch Club and her art can be found in many private collections nationwide. "I really enjoy sketching, charcoal," McTigue said. "But most people like to see something colorful. I like nature scenes." Her picture of a blue butterfly hangs on chicken wire in the Art Coop: A Gallery Space for the Community.

IN AN EFFORT to support local artists of all ages and art forms, the Loudoun Heritage Farm Museum has opened its doors to Loudoun County artists. The museum invites artists, like McTigue, to display their work on its walls for up to one month, free.

The Loudoun Heritage Farm Museum is dedicated to collecting, housing, researching and exhibiting objects, documents and photographs related to the history of agriculture and rural life in Loudoun County, said museum curator Katie Eichler Jones. The facility includes a permanent exhibit, "The Country People," an indoor educational play area for children. Children play among murals and installations of more than 300 years of Loudoun County farming history.

Artists may hang their works there, on wire on the back walls, and are encouraged to hold openings for family and friends. "It’s a good way to get publicity in the community," Jones said. "They can promote their art anyway they want."

The artists may display price lists, but are not allowed to sell their works at the museum. "It’s a county government stipulation," Jones said. "There’s a lot of red tape and it’s just easier for everyone this way."

MCTIGUE celebrated the opening of her paintings and sketches of butterflies and flowers with sweets and drinks in the family-friendly atmosphere on Thursday. Children played with shovels, brooms and miniature bicycles and tractors, in a big red barn. McTigue’s children, Maryam, 8, Noora, 4, and Nisa, 2, enjoyed milling flour. They shoveled wheat into bags with their hands. At the end of the day, their hands were stained white from the chalky residue.

"We’re trying to appeal to everyone," Jones said, adding "We’re trying to promote a multi-generational family experience."

The Loudoun Heritage Farm Museum is open six days a week and is located at Claude Moore Park in Sterling.

"We’re regulars around here," McTigue said.