LEMON TREE GALLERY AND STUDIO TO CELEBRATE SMALL TOWN, BIG ART – Grand Opening on April 9 Launches Business and Nonprofit Arts Partnership
Cape Charles, VA — Clelia Sheppard still feels nostalgia for her native Italy—the art, the landscape, the savoring of life’s pleasures. But after 25 years of living on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, she has developed another true love of land and culture. Artist, non-profit maven, and now entrepreneur, Sheppard is deepening her roots in Cape Charles with the April 9 opening of Lemon Tree Gallery and Studio, an interactive space that will build on the town’s new tradition of global and local arts.
“Whether I’m sculpting in Italy or I’m painting in Cape Charles, the world is one place,” says Sheppard. “But the Shore is one of the most peaceful corners I’ve found. It gives me the freedom to create.”
Sheppard is not alone. Since 2011 her daughter Renata has gathered international artists to create films and interactive art pieces in the historic small town by the Chesapeake Bay. A choreographer and artist, Renata is now spearheading her creative placemaking initiatives under a new organization: GEAR— Global Exchange Arts Roundtable, which will be launched at the gallery opening as Lemon Tree’s non-profit programming partner.
“We’re reimagining the non-profit model,” says Renata, who envisions GEAR as a channel to nurture interaction between people and places through the arts, science, and technology. “Sharing space allows us to maximize efficiency and impact for both the community and the artists.”
“We’re bending the definition of a gallery,” says Clelia. “This is not a place where you go in silently and stare at the wall. Friday nights there will be discussions, classes, readings, dancing, theatre, comedy, music. Any day you might find one of our artists working in their studio, or you might want to sit down yourself at our community table or at our pottery station and create something of your own.”
Lemon Tree, which occupies the space formerly known as the Stage Door Gallery, is Sheppard’s new venture after directing Arts Enter Cape Charles for nearly two decades. “Now I can concentrate on evolving as an artist while being an active participant in the lives of other creative people, which inspires me,” says Clelia, who will manage the gallery with former co-director of Arts Enter, Mary Ann Roehm.
“Clelia did a fabulous job of bringing the arts to Cape Charles through the Historic Palace Theatre, and now has an opportunity to do the same with this great location,” says Hank Mayer, Chairman of Arts Enter. “Strawberry and Mason is becoming the center of our town’s growing arts community.”
Renowned water colorist Thelma Peterson and emerging painter Bethany Simpson join Clelia as Lemon Tree’s permanent artists-in-residence. Rebecca Daryl Smith, a fiber artist from Brooklyn, is the featured visiting artist for the inaugural exhibition, which runs from April 9-June 19. The Lemon Tree Collective will include works by both local and regional artists from an eclectic range of genres, including plein air, realism, abstract, and modern art. Friday Nights at Lemon Tree will include flatfooting with live Appalachian music and occasional Salottos, inspired by the Italian version of art salons.
“The goal is to have a conversation built on respect and curiosity,” says Renata, who is working to connect Cape Charles to Hampton Roads, and Hampton Roads to metro areas like New York. DC, Richmond, and beyond.
“Whether it’s a sunset wrapped in fog or a tree in full bloom, art is a part of every day life, and each moment is unrepeatable,” says Clelia. “It’s a universal language that knows no geographic boundaries.”
Cape Charles Mayor George Proto will cut the ribbon at the grand opening, held from 6-8 p.m. on Saturday, April 9, and located at 305 Mason Avenue. The event will include hors d’oeuvres, live music including a performance of Peter Paul and Mary’s Lemon Tree by The Muse Jam with Dan Duke and Dennis Kelley, gourmet lemonade, and limoncello imported from Italy.