First Friday Artist April Sachs

First Friday Artist April Sachs

On July 5th from 5:00pm-7:00pm, we are thrilled to host a First Fridays Gallery Opening at The Depot featuring artist April Sachs (she/her)! Join us to welcome April and view her gallery entitled Rising (March 20, 2022-March 20, 2023)and to enjoy refreshments and community. RSVP for this event on our Facebook and get to know her more in her biography below!

*Accessibility Note: This building was previously restored from a fire. The elevator shaft is currently not functioning and there is an absence of ramps in the space. Because the show is on the 2nd floor, this may pose an issue for those who have mobility needs. We are aware of this need and we apologize greatly if this changes your ability to attend.

Bio

April Sachs is an accidental artist. She currently teaches at Eastern Mennonite School in Harrisonburg, and has also worn the hats of linguist, bookkeeper, office manager, and library assistant. She enjoys writing poetry, gardening, reading, and dancing at sunrise.
 

Artist Statement

Rising (March 20, 2022-March 20, 2023)
 

In late 2021, in the midst of life-changing events, I decided to photograph a constant: the sunrise. The result is 366 sunrise photos, all taken in exactly the same spot. But they are far from identical. The images portray the same scene in many moods, reflecting the changing seasons, weather, and position of the sun (from equinox to solstice and back again).

These photos, each similar and yet unique, echo my own experiences during that year. Sometimes I felt as bleak as the cloudy February mornings, when for days at a time I had to guess at the moment of sunrise, since the sun itself could not be seen. Other days were as joyful as the mist-filled mornings of June, with a mockingbird in the adjacent pasture, singing, flying, and falling with pure delight in life. But whether my own internal weather was bleak or joyful, I knew I had foundations as constant as the sunrise. This was my year of rising.

“Rising” Sneak Peek

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This event is free and open to everyoneSnacks and refreshments will be served and we look forward to seeing you there!

Each month we host a new artist in our building’s 2nd floor gallery at the Chesapeake Western Depot at 141 W. Bruce St. (second floor entrance is on Chesapeake). Artwork will remain on exhibit through the month. Come view the show anytime and get a tour the Depot! We will have food and drink available!

Peruvian Architecture

Peruvian Architecture

Mural in Lima, Peru that reads

This past month, I had the opportunity to travel to Peru. I am always grateful for the opportunity to travel because it broadens my world and introduces me to people both different and similar to me. Not to mention, I get to try new foods (like alpaca!). Of course, while I was there, I couldn’t help but look at the architecture. Below are snippets of the designs and structures that caught my eye.

Lima

 

My first stop in Peru was to Lima. Lima Architecture varies from district to district, but the architecture that I saw in Miraflores, a more touristy and commercial district, was more similar to what I’ve seen in U.S. cities. Along the Miraflores Malecón (Direct translation: “breakwater”. You can think of it like a boardwalk or costal path on top of a cliff by the ocean.), there were beautiful parks, sculptures, and a butterfly garden path.

Buildings in Lima, Peru.

City view from my window.

Architecture in Lima, Peru.

Fun shapes and color accents.

In the middle of the four lane road, there was a beautiful tree-lined path for walking, biking, and sitting on the benches.

The buildings closer to the coast were especially colorful.

Cusco

 

The city of Cusco.

It wasn’t just the architectural design of the buildings that I was fascinated by. I fell in love with the narrow twists and turns of the Cusco streets. Although this sort of city layout is not as natural for me to navigate, it always gives me a sense of exploration and curiosity. And even though the streets and buildings weren’t laid out into a squared grid, I was pleasantly surprised to be able to locate myself by day 3 of walking around. … but boy the 11,000 ft. altitude and hills did not make walking around easy! 

The building shapes weren’t shapes I see in Harrisonburg, or anywhere in the U.S. that I’ve visited. My mind was never bored as my eyes traveled the lines, jumping from one building to another.

The buildings around my Airbnb reminded me of this ink drawing that I was working on, and they gave me inspiration to complete it.

 

I have never seen round, concrete landings like this that seem to float outside. These were a common sight.

Spectacular detailing on a church in Plaza de Armas, Cusco.

Sacred Valley

Wow, this valley was sacred indeed. Our guide, Will was fantastic and emphasized that he was giving us an etnohistoria (translation: ethnohistoric) tour of the Inca locations, meaning the history he told us centered indigenous people’s perspectives, documents, culture, and oral history, etc., instead of history written by the white, European perspectives. He encouraged us to approach learning that day with an open mind and “blank page.” Learning from the Incan people’s perspectives helped me to understand the importance and purposes behind the architecture we visited. 

This is so important for learning about cultures different from our own, especially when the history we have heard about a group has not been from them. This is important in architectural practice as we design with communities.

Architecturally, the landscape, building, and community design were expertly created to fit with the landscape and topography. Descriptions are beside each picture below.  

As our guide taught us to do, I say thank you to these sacred mountains that we traveled in that hold these sacred places.

Incan ruins at Ollantaytambo, Peru.

Ollantaytambo: A beautiful town within the mountains that has Incan ruins. Some of the Incan buildings in the mountains were made to store food for the years that El Nino caused a dry season in this valley. These buildings were strategically oriented towards the wind. Incans carefully designed holes in the building to allow for airflow from the wind that would prevent mold during years of storage.

The extensive stepped terraces at Moray were designed and used by the Incans for agricultural research. By planting on the different levels which varied in ph levels and other conditions, the Incas developed over 4,000 different potato varieties and hundreds of corn varieties!

Salt flats in Maras, Peru.

Salineras de Maras, or The Salt Mines of Maras, were designed on the sloping landscape with an intricate network of canals. The water on each flat slowly evaporates in the sun and the remaining salt is harvested. They are still in use.

Massive stones on top of the structure in Ollantaytambo had portions that jut out to fit together, much like Legos.

Arequipa

 

Arequipa is a city surrounded by the Andes mountains and the volcano, Misti. The buildings in this city were again full of colors and shapes that I don’t see everyday in the U.S. There were also stunning churches with intricate carvings and lush parks scattered throughout the city.

Blue door in Arequipa, Peru.

Spiral staircase and rounded landing that I saw in Cusco too.

Of course, trying lots of yummy food with my family.

A question posed to me, now posed to you:

Waiting for my delayed flight at the Lima airport (at 1am), I had a conversation with a man I met in the food court that spanned everything from religion to culture to language to architecture. He asked me if there was anything like Machu Pichu and other structures from indigenous groups in the U.S. I was stumped. He pointed to the pyramids in Egypt and Tikal in Guatemala and asked why we didn’t have things like that. 

I assume there are many reasons why I couldn’t think of any such locations or structures: my European ancestors intentionally and strategically destroyed elements of indigenous culture, which included architecture, as a way of assuming power? Yes. Was it just not a part of my school curriculum? Probably. Maybe the nations that lived in the now U.S. used materials that were more disintegrable? I don’t know enough about that. Maybe the groups were more nomadic? I don’t know enough about this either. Was it the fact that I was trying to speak in Spanish at 1am? Yeah, probably a little bit of that too.

I’m curious, do you know of any places? Let me know in the comments.

*Edit: Later I googled Indigenous structures in the U.S. and low and behold, there are many! Check out a few cultural, architectural sites here.

Tribute to Roger N. Bryant

Tribute to Roger N. Bryant

Written by Raymond E. Gaines.

 

Tribute to Roger N. Bryant

1958-2024

 

Roger Bryant, who spent over half his life with The Gaines Group, passed away peacefully on May 25, 2024.  Roger’s life embodied creativity, adventure, family, and faith, but not in that order.

Roger was a man of deep faith.  When I first met and hired him, the list of hobbies on his employment application included Gospel singing with his family as item number one.  The depth of his faith became apparent to me as I got to know him over the 33½ years that we worked together.

Roger was a family man, even though he remained single his entire life.  He often spoke of his love of family when he would talk about his nieces and nephews and his relationships with his parents, grandparents, siblings, and aunts and uncles.  Roger was always there for them as they navigated the good times as well as the illnesses and tragedies of life.  He participated in at least three family reunions annually, and typically organized the Labor Day gathering at the family home.  He also spoke fondly of the times he spent on the Cowpasture River and at Douthat State Park each year with his family.

Roger was a world traveler.  When I first met him, he had just returned from Europe.  He spoke of multiple trips to Europe and “the islands”, often traveling to sing with the family.  He visited The UK, Germany, and Russia over the years that we worked together, and told many amusing stories arising from these trips.  When he retired, he was following his brother-in-law, Bob, on his quest to run marathons in all fifty states, watching the races with his sister, Belva.  I do not know if he ever completed that particular quest.

Finally, Roger was a talented designer and mentor.  His hands-on knowledge of building materials and his ability to use them in aesthetically and stylistically pleasing ways is a talent that few possess.  Roger was comfortable with any style, particularly with Virginia Vernacular.  His body of work also includes Georgian, French Provincial, Prairie, Contemporary (whatever that is) and a touch of Art Deco.  He would always share that with our younger staff.  You have most likely touched Roger’s work from his years as an industrial designer prior to 1989.

Roger’s design talent was not limited to just the built world but he was a genius at floral arranging.  He did the flowers for multiple weddings over the years, and would personally arrange sympathy flowers when they were called for.

He was a loyal friend and colleague from the day he started work in January 1989 until his retirement at the end of June 2022.  He watched my three daughters grow up, and mentored one of them as an interior designer.  He provided a living example to them, and all of us, of how to be a Christian in today’s world.

Rest in peace my friend.

First Friday Artist Rebecca Ryan

First Friday Artist Rebecca Ryan

On June 7th from 5:00pm-7:00pm, we are thrilled to host a First Fridays Gallery Opening at The Depot featuring artist Rebecca Ryan (she/her)! Join us to welcome Rebecca and view her gallery entitled Orchards in Spring, and to enjoy refreshments and community. RSVP for this event on our Facebook and get to know her more in her biography below!

*Accessibility Note: This building was previously restored from a fire. The elevator shaft is currently not functioning and there is an absence of ramps in the space. Because the show is on the 2nd floor, this may pose an issue for those who have mobility needs. We are aware of this need and we apologize greatly if this changes your ability to attend.

 

First Friday Artist Rebecca Ryan with her partner.

Bio:

Rebecca Ryan has been a Shenandoah Valley based artist since 2011. She is an acrylic artist who draws inspiration from living on her family’s working fruit farm. Her art is influenced by impressionism and open-impressionism and uses thick brush strokes of bold color to create the natural light and drama of her subject matter.  Rebecca has been showing art in the downtown area since 2011 and has had gallery shows at Madison hotel and a permanent display at Clementine Cafe. She sells her art from the Harrisonburg Farmers Market in downtown Harrisonburg and takes commissions.

“Orchards in Spring” Sneak Peek

Painting of a field.

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This event is free and open to everyoneSnacks and refreshments will be served and we look forward to seeing you there!

Each month we host a new artist in our building’s 2nd floor gallery at the Chesapeake Western Depot at 141 W. Bruce St. (second floor entrance is on Chesapeake). Artwork will remain on exhibit through the month. Come view the show anytime and get a tour the Depot! We will have food and drink available!

Architect Mom

Architect Mom

By Architect, Adrienne Stronge.

Architecture can be a demanding profession.  There are deadlines, client demands, and even construction emergencies.  Design also has a way of infiltrating your very existence, and it can be impossible to shut off your brain when you’re trying to solve a particularly complicated problem (often solved at 3am or in the shower as you turn your vision around and around in your head).  It is very hard, if not impossible, to only be an architect from 9-5 on weekdays. 


It becomes even more difficult when babies are added to that picture.  I was 14 years into my career before I had my son, who was born in 2020.  My world turned inside out because while my job / career had been my primary focus for over a decade, now I was hyper-focused on this tiny little babe who had me wrapped around his finger. His sister joined us in 2023, and they bring me more happiness than I ever expected. 

 

Even with the tremendous support of my spouse who is our stay-at-home parent, balancing my career with being a mom is tough.  I love what I do, but I’m also determined to always make my time at home count.  My kids are already growing up so fast and I don’t want to miss out on time with them.  A few things that help me:


Find your village

Your village may be family, friends, neighbors, or even a network of other parents online (there is both a Parents in Architecture and a Mothers in Architecture group on Facebook).  Figure out where you can go to vent or ask questions. Any time we’ve needed help, we’re always surprised at just how big that village can be. 



Establish and communicate priorities

Family always comes first, but there are days / weeks where I need to invest extra time into work to make things happen.  I try to clearly communicate with my family the times I might be busy.  Conversely, there are times that family priorities get posted to the calendar so that work knows that I am unavailable at those times.  

 

Delegate and outsource

It’s impossible to do everything.  Even with one parent at home, we find ourselves short on time to tackle everything. Being comfortable delegating work to a team member or outsourcing household or yard tasks is important.  My husband and I have always been hands-on DIYers, but now with kids, we recognize we can’t do it all and have hired help for portions of our to-do list. At work, finding or training a person you can easily delegate tasks to is important. 

 

Establish routines

Kids thrive on routines and while I’m the first to break routines on the weekends, we have a pretty good routine during the week.  I always get some snuggles in the morning before going to work, and unless there is a rare event, I’m home for bedtime routines. 


Make time at home count

While it’s tough to be active and engaged after a long day at the office, I try to cram a lot of fun things into our weekends.  I keep track of a lot of local events and playgroups so that we can have fun together.  If I need to work, I try to push it until after the kids have gone to bed. We have already made a lot of great weekend memories!


With architecture being a profession that changes based on clients, jobs, and even design stage, and with kids changing every week as they grow and develop, finding a sustainable balance is something I’m sure will be a continuous struggle, but having a career I love and a family I adore makes it all worth finding that balance.