Sperryville column for Sept. 3

One of Labovitz's photos of a dwarf iris.Jackie Bailey Labovitz
One of Labovitz’s photos of a dwarf iris.

Beautiful light brings Labovitz

The Sperryville Schoolhouse annex, formerly home of Coterie, will soon be transformed. Flora and fauna photographer Jackie Bailey Labovitz will turn it into her studio, art gallery and small gift shop as well as offer works by other fine art and craft artists and curatorial services for residential clients.

“The space is gorgeous” she tells me. “I find myself very fortunate to get a building filled with so much beautiful light. We’re designing mobile walls, refinishing the floors, so much is underway.” She notes further, with a smile, that, since she’s a “perfectionist,” it’ll be awhile “before I’m up and running.”

Jackie Bailey Labovitz
Jackie Bailey Labovitz

Many are familiar with Jackie’s dramatic photography, the saturated colors and details of rare irises and orchids she deftly captures. She’s shown at River District Arts and the Sperryville Schoolhouse (when it housed myriad shops). Ever in search of a forever home, she says she also looked at the small building painter Kevin Adams leased in Sperryville (before purchasing his new studio and gallery in Washington). But Jackie displays “exhibition-size canvasses,” 32 inches by 40 inches, so she found the space was too snug for her needs.

Jackie also looked in Winchester, as the Shenandoah Museum “has been supportive and soon will be putting together a traveling exhibition of my work.” Given its high-end traffic, she checked out Middleburg, but when she learned of Coterie’s move this summer, she stopped looking. The gallery and shop will be called Cottage Curator.

According to an interview with Nina May of Virginia Living Television (seen on Jackie’s website, baileylabovitz.com), her “Understory” photo collection began with her fascination with Thomas Jefferson, who noted 12 native and rare plants in his correspondence.

While she’ll be open sometime in the fall, Jackie says she’d like to have a grand opening in May to coincide with Shenandoah National Park’s Wildflower Weekend.

“I’m 65,” she says, with a twinkle in her eyes. “Can you believe I’m starting a new business?”

Originally from Virginia, Jackie was raised close to the North Carolina line, which is evident in her soft drawl. She says, laughing, that she’s had mixed experiences with her drawl. A petite woman with youthful exuberance and a prominent southern accent, she recalls that one of her first curatorial assignments in the Big Apple raised more than a few New York eyebrows. After her first assignment was completed, a corporate bigwig affiliated with the curating project was overheard to say that he’d met his “first Steel Magnolia.” (That collection, curated by Jackie, now resides in the permanent collection at the Smithsonian.)

Best of luck to you, Jackie!

Belle . . . Meuse

Belle, an English bulldog, is a new addition to the Meuse household
Belle, an English bulldog, is a new addition to the Meuse household

Belle — a name that melts in your mouth like a soft dinner mint, or conjures images of a coy, eyelash-batting female, but Sperryville’s newest Belle is of the quadruped persuasion. She is an achingly adorable, 11-week-old English bulldog who has found a home with the Jackie and Joe Meuse family at their pretty mountainside Valhalla.

Belle is now a proud member of the Meuse menagerie of  happy dogs, chickens and horses. She is already learning to play football, swims in the pool and loves her squeaky toys. She’s a keeper.

Danke schoen, Sperryville

While Sperryville boasts local businesses, such as Roy’s Orchard, Roger Jenkins’ farm stand and Rick Wasmund’s Copper Fox Distillery, their wares aren’t necessarily savored just by locals and tourists anymore. In fact this week, the Winden and Muenks family of Meerbusch, Germany (just outside of Dusseldorf), are enjoying Roy’s penny candy, maple syrup and local jellies, and Roger’s honey. And while Germans love their “Bier,” they sure are fond of a good American whiskey, and Rick’s fits the bill and then some. Can you see their smiles?

The columnist's family in Meerbusch, Germany enjoy the fruits of Rappahannock labor.Courtesy photo
The columnist’s family in Meerbusch, Germany enjoy the fruits of Rappahannock labor.
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