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Artist Edith Arbaugh Reflects On The Lawn In The Rotunda Exhibit On “Jefferson Legacy Series”

March 28, 2005 --

WHO:           Watercolor artist Edith Arbaugh
WHAT:         Exhibit — “Jefferson Legacy Series”
WHEN:         Friday, April 8 through Thursday, May 19

Daily, 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.

WHERE:       The Rotunda Dome Room

Artist Edith Arbaugh wrote in a book that incorporates her watercolor paintings and Jefferson cups, “Often it is chosen as a gift marking a milestone in the recipient’s life.”

This year Arbaugh is approaching a milestone in her own life — she will attend her first reunion since graduating from the University of Virginia in 1955. On May 17 and 18, she will celebrate her 50threunion with former classmates in Charlottesville.

Although it’s her first reunion, the watercolorist has been no stranger to Grounds. She has lived in Charlottesville most of her adult life, teaching art for 29 years — 14 of those at Western Albemarle High School. During her last year of teaching she put together a book on her philosophy of teaching art with examples of student work that defines teaching techniques for building on previously learned skills.   

An exhibit of her work, “Jefferson Legacy Series,” will be on view in the Rotunda Dome Room from April 8 through May 19 during celebrations for the 50th reunion and Founder’s Day. The series reflects more than her remembrances of the college years she and her husband spent in the Curry School of Education, then housed in Peabody Hall.

The 10 paintings in the exhibit reflect her love of the University and admiration for Jefferson’s design of the Lawn. Each watercolor in the “Jefferson Legacy Series” was created in a two-step process. First, Arbaugh painted a scene of the Rotunda or an architectural detail of the Lawn and then incorporated Jefferson cups into the watercolor composition. The final painting combines the original drawing and fragmented images of it reflected in the curved shape of the cups. The paintings in their complete form draw viewers in to search and explore the layering and many facets of the reflections.

“The cups are so connected with Jefferson and the University, I thought it would be interesting to join the two together,” Arbaugh said.

This is the third painting series in which Arbaugh has featured the cups. In another series, which was published in a book, she combined her daughter’s poetry with her watercolors of well-known images reflected in the Jefferson cups.

“The silver cup designed in the 18th century by Thomas Jefferson has become a well-known classic shape in central Virginia,” Arbaugh wrote. “I think of the cup as a symbol of life — an eternity of circles — reflecting and becoming part of all that surrounds it. Yet keeping its interior separate, a retreat for quiet reflection.”

Arbaugh is a well-known figure in the Charlottesville art scene. She helped found the Watercolor Guild and has a studio in The McGuffy Art Center. In 2000 she received the Piedmont Council of the Arts Life Achievement Award. To celebrate their 100th anniversaries, the Medical Center and the School of Nursing each commissioned her to create paintings, which now are on permanent display in their respective buildings.

For more information about the exhibit, contact Leslie Kelly, Rotunda Administrator, at (434) 924-1019 or

Contact: Jane Ford, (434) 924-4298

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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