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picturing harrisonburg exhibit duke hall gallery

Picturing Harrisonburg

August 28 - October 14, 2017
Curated by David Ehrenpreis and Kevin Borg

Picturing Harrisonburg, the 2017-2018 inaugural exhibition of the Duke Hall Gallery of Fine Art at James Madison University, runs from August 28-October 14, 2017. A collaboration between JMU’s Institute for Visual Studies (IVS) and the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Historical Society, the exhibition is the first of its kind to trace the history and transformation of Harrisonburg over the last two centuries. It includes more than 80 paintings, postcards, maps and photographs, many on display to the public for the first time. The exhibition is part of the larger Picturing Harrisonburg Project, which celebrates the city’s history with a variety of events and programming in the fall of 2017.

To accompany the exhibition, IVS director David Ehrenpreis wrote a book of the same name, Picturing Harrisonburg: Visions of a Shenandoah Valley City Since 1828 (GFT Publishing, 2017). According to Ehrenpreis, “Tracing how visions of a place shift over time can reveal a community’s values, how they evolved, and what they mean. While Harrisonburg has a unique history and distinct character, the challenges it has faced over the past two centuries are familiar to many other communities, towns, and cities. This exhibition offers a new way of understanding how places evolve.”

Harrisonburg has been a vital agricultural, commercial, and political mecca since the 18th century. Today, it is the largest city in the Shenandoah Valley—and an educational epicenter with a metropolitan population exceeding 100,000. But the city’s roots lie in the evolution of the American frontier. Picturing Harrisonburg offers a unique view of how a quintessential American town became a prominent urban place on the American landscape.

The exhibition contains five parts that are ordered chronologically, each focusing on a significant moment in Harrisonburg’s history. Each part also features a distinct set of images, from the first hand-drawn plan of the town, completed in 1828, to the graphic designs and logos of the 21st century. The breadth of these visual materials shows how various types of images create new ways of understanding the past and present, and of envisioning the future.




Curatorial tours take place at Duke Hall Gallery of Fine Art every Saturday at 1p, 2p and 3p throughout the run of the exhibition.  Tours are also available by appointment. 

August 29: WMRA Books & Brews
Pale Fire Brewing Co., 7p

September 1: First Fridays Downtown
Duke Hall Gallery of Fine Art, 5-8p

September 1: Exhibition, Saved in Pen: Images of Lost Harrisonburg / Drawings by Fred L. Cooper
Massanutten Regional Library, 5-8p

September 1-29: Exhibition, Looking for Rocktown / Contemporary depictions of Harrisonburg
Arts Council of the Valley

September 1-29: Exhibition, Harrisonburg: Unfiltered / 22 city residents document their lives using instant photography
Larkin Arts

September 1-29: Exhibition, Court Square’d / Glimpses of downtown Harrisonburg – 6x6” format, t-shirts as canvas
Laughing Dog T-Shirts & Gifts

September 11: Special Reception, Picturing Harrisonburg
Duke Hall Gallery of Fine Art, 5-7p

September 19: Opening Reception, Who Wore What Here? A century of garments, many worn by Harrisonburg residents
JMU’s Institute for Visual Studies, 11a-1p

September 19-October 26: Exhibition, Who Wore What Here? A century of garments, many worn by Harrisonburg residents
JMU’s Institute for Visual Studies
September 21: Harrisonburg’s Postcards and Community Vision / Lecture by Scott Suter, Bridgewater College
Harrisonburg-Rockingham Historical Society, 7p

September 22-24: Picturing Harrisonburg / Extended JMU Family Weekend Hours
Duke Hall Gallery of Fine Art, OPEN: 25 September 2017, 11a-5p

September 29: Living in Community: The City and Future of Harrisonburg / Center for Faculty Innovation: Flashpoint Series
Duke Hall Gallery Court, 3:30-5p
Picturing Harrisonburg will remain open to the public through 6p for this event.

October 5: Film, The Rural Co-op / Lecture, Pare Lorentz and the New Deal Documentary in Rockingham, Shaun Wright, JMU SMAD Professor
Massanutten Regional Library, 7p

October 6: First Fridays Downtown
Duke Hall Gallery of Fine Art, 5-8p

October 12: Film, Citizen Jane: Battle For The City / Introduction & Discussion, Associate Dean, Henry Way / JMU GS Professor
Duke Hall Room #2036, 6-8p

December 1: Harrisonburg: The Musical / JMU student musical performance inspired by Harrisonburg history
Court Square Theater, 7p

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