Bay School News

ALTERED: Exploring the Artwork of Patrick Andrews January 17 2018, 0 Comments

Our first gallery exhibition of the year is a solo show featuring the sculptural work of Patrick Andrews. Patrick's sculptures consist of as many repurposed objects as possible and his award-winning metal work ranges from the whimsical to functional. He uses patinas and cut shapes to explore surface, scale and space in a way that alters his materials into works of poetic beauty. 

Gallery Coordinator, Saraya Cheney, had the opportunity to ask Patrick a few questions to gain a bit of insight into his creative inspirations and his origins as an artist:



SC - How would you describe your work to someone who has never seen it?

PA - I use scrap metal, found objects and raw material to make sculptures, lamps, bells and functional art. By using reclaimed or re-purposed materials I can give these items a second chance at life and help to reduce the amount of material destined for landfills.

SC - Where do you say that you get your inspiration from? Does it come from one particular place or multiple places?

PA - I am frequently inspired by nature and other artists. In nature, the organisms or residents will frequently adapt to the environment in which they find themselves. This adaptability can result in entirely new species or behaviors. Some of the most vibrant colors and shapes I have seen have been in nature. Even after a natural disaster such as an earthquake or forest fire, nature is able to re-assert itself in newer and stronger ways. The skills and techniques of other artists have inspired me to look at what I make or do and realize I need to evolve as well. That is one reason I am frequently changing what I am making. In order to learn and grow.

SC - What or who do you think has been the biggest influence in your artistic career?

PA - While I visited the usual museums and an occasional gallery growing up, I think the Internet has become one of the biggest influences on my artistic endeavors. The Internet has allowed me to see art and artists from around the world. I have been able to see styles, colors, and techniques that I never knew existed. I have even used it to contact some artists for advice. The Internet has also allowed me to show my work to the world and I have been fortunate to find that others like what I make.



SC - What’s something you’ve struggled with creatively the most?

PA - Color choices, combinations, or finish is frequently a challenge for me. I have found that while I can see in my mind the idea of what I want to make, the color or finish can have a dramatic impact on the final product. There are some pieces I have made where, as soon as I was finished, I knew it was a success and other times when I look at something and realize it just doesn’t work. Sometimes it is that the paint did not adhere correctly or had drips or runs, or other times that the color selection was just plain wrong. I had one bell that I ended up having to repaint four times before I was happy with it.



SC - Have you always been making work from salvaged items or is this something that is relatively new? What does it mean to you to be able to take something, alter it and create something entirely new?

PA - I remember being in grade school or middle school and walking along railroad tracks, out in the woods, or on the beach. I would come across pieces of metal, interesting looking rocks, sticks or seashells and drag them home. In my mind they always became something else. As an adult I have been able to purchase tools and equipment to bring those ideas to life. I also tried to instill that idea in my children. I still have containers of Popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, crayons, and colored pencils my children used in school and have been known to raid those boxes for current projects.

SC - What prompted your work to head in that direction?

PA - One of the most important things I learned is to not look at an item as what it is, but what it can become. I apply that same philosophy to people and try to look for the hidden potential of what they can become. While I think I have been somewhat artistic my whole life, I have found that I now have the time and means to bring that to life.

SC - What is your favorite piece that you have created?

PA - It would be a dogwood branch sculpture I made for my house. I was on a portion of Virginia Beach one fall day about eight years ago and I found a large pile of metal rebar. The waves had twisted the pieces together like a plate of spaghetti. In addition, the salt water and sand had eroded portions of the metal so that instead of its usual look, it now looked very textured and organic. I had no idea what I was going to make with this, but I knew I had to have it. That rebar sat in my back yard until the following spring when the dogwood trees started to bloom. I now knew what the rebar was to become.

SC - Do you ever get blocked creatively? How do you work through it if you do?

PA - To borrow a quote from William Faulkner – “I only write when I am inspired. Fortunately I am inspired at 9 o'clock every morning.”

While I have had times when I question what I am doing and if it is worth it, I consider myself lucky in many respects. I have stacks of paper with sketches or ideas for various projects. When I find that I am tired of a particular style or item, I will frequently change the type of material I am using or the style of work I am attempting. This allows me time to take a break and regroup. I have also found that if I need inspiration, I can also just start cleaning up my pile of scrap metal. Moving those pieces of metal around is akin to re-arranging the letters in your rack in the game of Scrabble, in that, sometimes a piece just jumps right out at you.

I also recently read an article where another artist offered advice along these lines. “Make what you need to make in order to pay the bills. Occasionally, make what you want to make and that is fun for you. Soon you find that this last group of items is what pays the bills.” I interpreted that as meaning that the audience can see when an artist is making something from the heart.


Patrick's solo show ALTERED: Exploring the Artwork of Patrick Andrews opens on Friday, January 26th with a reception from 5-7pm. Refreshments and drinks will be served. 


Hard Work, Small Dreams: Bentwaters Farm June 16 2017, 2 Comments

 Off the beaten path and nestled on the shores of where Pepper Creek and the Mobjack meet, Larry and Rosalie Brown have built a flourishing farm out of hard work and dreams. Their white farmhouse rises from the marsh to greet you with all of the charm and humility only found in times gone by. The farmhouse was built around 1895 by one of the Armisteads, a group of brothers who built each other’s homes. It then changed hands to the parents of Paul Blanock, former Commonwealth Attorney, and in 1980 was purchased by the Browns.










A romance story of the truest kind, Larry was serving in the Air Force, stationed in England, when he met Rosalie, a children’s nanny. The two soon fell in love and he whisked her away to the United States, settling in Gloucester and later relocating to Mathews. Rosalie had always dreamed of living on a farm, “Growing up in England, I’d always wanted to be a children’s nanny or a farmer, and I was a children’s nanny for a number of years. When we came here, I just knew I was going to get sheep. My father and mother were alive at that time, dad went with me to get sheep and that just started it.” Having been exposed to the processes of spinning, knitting and weaving in her childhood, the progression to raising sheep for the production of wool was a natural one. For Larry, growing up in Hampton and a self-proclaimed “gear head”, the farm life offered a chance for him to return to his roots, as farming ran in both sides of his family lineage.



From a small dream, blossomed Bentwaters Farm and the promise of a simpler life. The Browns soon evolved from raising Dorset and Hampshire sheep, which are mainly used for meat, to raising sheep for the production of fine wool and wool products, which are handmade and dyed onsite. Over the years, their farm has expanded to include Dwarf Nigerian goats, English Angora rabbits, a bevy of chickens, Guinea hens, quail, a llama and bees.


Their love for their craft is evident, not only in the way they speak about what they do, but also in their passion to pass on their trade, both having taught in one capacity or another. Rosalie teaches a number of classes from dying to felting at The Bay School Community Arts Center, in Mathews and Rosalie and Larry have both done educational presentations at a number of historical sites in Williamsburg in addition to the programming conducted by Colonial Williamsburg.


The Browns have a deep and abiding love and respect for their animals that is apparent when wandering the property. When Rosalie walks among the goats and sheep, she calls each one by name and stops to visit with them for a while, often stopping to play with the young kids.


Bentwaters Farm is a member of the Middle Peninsula Artisan Trail and is open to visitors seeking to experience the hands on process of wool production. For more information or to visit Bentwaters Farm for yourself, visit their website: 

Outreach Programs 2016-2017 October 12 2016, 0 Comments

With the 2016-17 school year in full swing, the Bay School Outreach Programs have hit their stride. We've adjusted the scheduling of some classes and added an additional Outreach Instructor in order to best serve our community. 

The Bay School proudly welcomes Steph Brown back to our Outreach Program team! Steph has worked with the Bay School for years, offering classes to adults in a variety of media in addition to running our Free Weeks of Art throughout the summer. Steph will be taking over our YMCA Program, half of the programming at The  Active Lifestyles Center and half at The Mathews Riverside Convalescent Center. Creativity and compassion flow freely when Steph is teaching and she makes a wonderful addition to the team!

Virginia Coyle is continuing with her programs at Mathews Riverside Convalescent Center, The Puller Center, The Active Lifestyles Center, Kingston Parish and Head Start.


In addition to her duties as Outreach Coordinator, Saraya Cheney, has taken on the role of Gallery Coordinator for The Art Speaks Gallery at The Bay School. She will continue to teach many of our ongoing Outreach Programs (Laurel Shelter in Gloucester, Brambles Day Support, THMS Special Education, LJES Special Education, Coastal Christian Homeschool Co-Op, SAIL Program at THMS, Teen Open Studio, OpenArts After School) in addition to developing some of our newest programs this year.

We truly do our best to meet the creative needs of all members within our community. If you feel that there are additional ways that we can provide support within Mathews or Gloucester, please do not hesitate to let us know. We love hearing how we can support and enrich the lives of those in our area.

For additional information on our Outreach Programs, questions or suggestions, call or email Saraya Cheney, Outreach Coordinator:

Wildly Creative Week at The Bay School July 14 2016, 0 Comments

This week the Bay School has come alive with the amazing creativity of kids and teens from our local communities. Our Free Weeks of Art are in full swing and the attendees have been diving right in, exploring the world of myth & legend! Mermaids, dragons, Medusa masks and loads of Pandora’s Boxes line the shelves of the classrooms, adding splashes of color and touches of whimsy to the atmosphere. All of the work created in our Free Week of Art is eligible to be displayed in our Kids Art Show coming up in August, from the 12th-20th. Any kids or teens who wish to have their work in the gallery during that time can either leave their work at The Bay School or bring their work in from August 4th-6th.  Along with works from the Free Weeks of Art, we are encouraging those who currently attend, or who have attended, any of our Outreach Programs to participate, as well any children who have taken a class at the Bay School in the last year. The show is one of The Bay School’s proudest moments as we celebrate the imaginations of our community’s budding artists.


Joining in on the creativity this week is the Virginia Cooperative Extension Mathews 4-H Program. Gallery and Outreach Coordinator, Saraya Cheney, has been joined by 30 Cloverbud Campers who are all incredibly excited to create works of art based on the theme of “water”. The campers have enjoyed learning about watercolors, making sea creature windsocks, exploring the deep with submarine silhouettes and creating ocean themed sculptures from clay. 

Though these past few weeks have been packed with activity within The Bay School walls, plenty of art has been taking place in other locations around Mathews and Gloucester. Many of our Outreach Programs are still inspiring members of the community with Bay School Teaching Artists visiting the Mathews Active Lifestyles Center, Riverside Convalescent Center in Mathews, The Mathews Boys and Girls Club, The Brambles Day Support Center and The Laurel Shelter. Each of these programs provide an artistic respite from the summer heat and a way to connect with the creativity within so many members of the local community.

Outreach Programs - OpenArts After School November 12 2015, 0 Comments

The Bay School not only provides a place for art enthusiasts to learn new techniques, but it also goes out into the Mathews/Gloucester communities to teach art enrichment programs to those who may not otherwise have the opportunity to explore the arts. The second week each month, we’ll give you a peek into the many educational programs that are powered by grants and other generous donors.     

Every Wednesday, from 3-5pm, the Bay School joins forces with the Mathews Family YMCA to teach the OpenArts After School Program. This special arts session introduces students to a different artist/technique each month and provides a much needed, “art break” for the students that attend. Led by Saraya Cheney, Bay School Outreach Coordinator, and Virginia Coyle, Bay School Teaching Artist, the students are welcome to explore, make messes and create something beautiful.  In past months, the student artists have explored the works of Vincent Van Gogh, George Rodrigue and most recently Roy Lichtenstein. This program has been generously funded by the Richard and Caroline T. Gwathmey Memorial Trust, making it open, and free, to the general public.  Elementary, middle, and home school students here in Mathews are welcome to join the YMCA campers in this art adventure!



  For more information about this or any of our other outreach programs, please contact us directly via phone or email – 804-725-1278