Black History Month Events at Piedmont Arts

This February, Piedmont Arts has lined up a variety of exhibits and programs that recognize and celebrate Black History Month. From its annual African American Read-In with noted storyteller Fred Motley, to exhibits featuring work by contemporary African American artists, to a free gallery talk with artist Eric McRay, the museum is taking a comprehensive look at the contributions of African American artists to the arts and culture of our region.

Storyteller Fred Motley will perform at African American Read-In + Family Day on Feb. 23, 2019

Slated for February 23, Piedmont Arts’ African American Read-In + Family Day will take place from 11 am – 1 pm at the museum, and will feature Danville-based storyteller Fred Motley. A modern-day griot, Motley has traveled to festivals and other venues to teach African-American history, music and dance for over 30 years. His performances will take place at 11:30 am and 12:15 pm, and include classic folktales, songs and stories from around the world. Community members will also read excerpts from books, stories and poems by their favorite African American authors and kids can take part in a free “Make Your Own Story” craft. Complimentary refreshments will be provided. Admission is free. This event is sponsored by Carter Bank & Trust.

Paintings by Raleigh-based artist Eric McRay on display in Mood and Music

Two exhibits of work by African American artists on display at Piedmont Arts through February 23, 2019 shed light on the contemporary African American experience. 

Mood and Music: Paintings by Eric McRay features vibrant and colorful paintings that blend the verve, images and rhythms of the Bebop jazz age with the non-objective abstraction tradition of the New York School of the 1940s and 1950s. McRay’s focus is on subjective emotional expression with particular emphasis on spontaneous creative actions.  

Bus Stop, Clarence Heinz

Clarence Heinz is a self-taught artist who paints what he experienced growing up in Charleston, South Carolina during Jim Crow, as a Vietnam-era veteran, and during his 32 years in prison – where he taught himself to paint.

To close out the exhibits, Piedmont Arts will host Art at Happy Hour on February 21 from 5 – 7 pm. Eric McRay will lead a gallery walk and talk through Mood and Music, discuss his influences and techniques and answer questions. The Piedmont Arts Guild will provide complimentary refreshments. Admission is free.

Piedmont Arts is a nonprofit art museum in Martinsville, Virginia that inspires and engages the diverse Martinsville-Henry County community and surrounding areas through visual arts, performing arts and arts education. Piedmont Arts is a statewide partner of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. Piedmont Arts programming is partially supported by the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. Piedmont Arts is located at 215 Starling Avenue, Martinsville. Museum hours are Tuesday – Friday from 10 am – 5 pm and Saturday from 10 am– 3 pm. Admission is free. Learn more at


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