The Inn at Little Washington hosted a reception and Shenandoah National Park Trust fundraiser for approximately 100 people at its Tavern Shops Sunday afternoon to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the park and the opening of “Our Heritage, Our Park,” a collection of 27 works by local painter Kevin H. Adams.
“What I show in these paintings,” Adams said, “[is] color, texture and rhythms of seasons and how they affect the park.” Adams was commissioned to capture the park’s unique beauty on canvas. “I would have done every last one of these paintings anyway,” said Adams, who spent the past year working furiously on his artwork, “so this [celebration] just presented the opportunity.”
Adams’ exhibit included new works along with one donated by the artist for silent auction — which Robert Lander snatched up, saying it was to be a Christmas gift for his wife, Marti. Of three pieces borrowed from private collections, “Old Rag and the Piedmont” is now available as a limited signed print thanks to the privately funded SNP Trust. It can be purchased at the park’s visitor center in Luray.
The purpose of the Trust, said executive director Susan Sherman, is to “promote the park and raise funds for projects and programs,” such as education and restoration. Park Superintendent Martha C. Bogel told the audience at the Inn event that “our national parks, without a caring constituent of individuals, would be in trouble.”
The exhibit represented a third national park-related commission for Adams, who painted scenes previously for anniversary celebrations in Glacier and Grand Canyon national parks. He said the latter park equipped him with a rubber raft, a boatman and a cook and sent him down the Colorado River for one month “to capture what caught [my] eye” on canvas. The trip, he added, “was not a casual stroll,” as it passed through sometimes dangerous rapids.
The Shenandoah commission is special to Adams, he said, presenting Bogel with the original “Old Rag and the Piedmont” print, because “this is where I live . . . this is where I wake up and go to bed. We [Rappahannock residents] basically live in the Park.”
Bogel said Adams’ piece will find its home “above the fireplace at headquarters.”
Inn chef-proprietor Patrick O’Connell — who mingled with guests while keeping a close eye on his hors d’oeuvre servers and cooking stations — said of the almost sold-out event, “We’re all happy to celebrate such a wonderful thing.” When he was a young child, O’Connell said, his family would load up the car every year and follow Skyline Drive, the park being the honeymoon place of his parents (who, he joked, were happy to drag out details annually to their kids).
Both O’Connell and Inn general manager Kaan K. Cagler stayed for the entire three-hour reception, the likes and size of which has never been seen before at the world-famous Inn, said Inn spokeswoman Rachel Hayden.
The always-wonderful Inn fare included boudin blanc and Tom Calhoun ham sandwich stations, a Rappahannock River oyster bar, parmesan popcorn with black truffle shavings, chocolate bon-bon and antipasta tables, and even a do-it-yourself s’mores nook out by a bonfire — for the little Scout in all of us — and all with a lovely view of the park’s beautiful Blue Ridge.