Monday, September 28, 2015



"Old Towne Petersburg" ©Mary Montague Sikes

Last summer, my husband and I visited the construction site of the Ward Center for Contemporary Art in Petersburg VA. We were there the same day the filming of "Ithaca" began nearby in Old Towne. False store fronts were installed to create the set of the movie that is based on the novel, The Human Comedy, published in 1943 by William Saroyan. Meg Ryan directed the film, scheduled for release in 2016. It was Ryan's performance in the movie "Sleepless in Seattle" that inspired me to write my novel Daddy's Christmas Angel.

Old Towne Petersburg is now a popular setting for movies. During the filming of "Lincoln," Steven Spielberg, the director, was often seen in the downtown just as Ryan was last summer. The film-making is bringing a revival to the area.
All the production activity in the historic district of the old city, reminds me of why I liked Petersburg so much when the Petersburg Regional Art Center first opened 12 years ago in 2003. I had a studio gallery in the basement of PRAC for all of the 10 years it was open. That space in The Ward Center for Contemporary Art is now the center of the beautiful new configuration of studios. 
The day we first visited, dust was flying as dry walls were hammered in place. The same old pressed metal ceilings remained overhead, and I wondered if the new paint would flake from them as it did almost daily when my studio was there. I loved the space that we painted white with black walls in the back. I chose a glass door that gave a more open look to the display. The new studios located in the area now have glass doors and a look that makes them special.