Joint Government Center Artwork Coming Soon

The Clarke County Joint Government Center will soon present a new look to building vistors. The Joint Building Committee – representatives from the Town of Berryville and Clarke County – are near finalizing a collection of modern and vintage photographs that will brighten the building’s lobbies and stairwell and also provide visitors with a glimpse into the county’s rich past.

(l-r) Supervisor David Weiss, Administrator David Ash and Town Manager Keith Dalton review a map of historic Clarke County places that will be mounted in the Joint Government Center. Designer Phyllis Nee is seated. - Photo Edward Leonard

“I think that our goal is to make sure that the pictures represent the entire county” said Clarke County Supervisor David Weiss (Buckmarsh).

After pouring over hundreds of potential photos for the project over several months, town and county officials gave design consultant Phyllis Nee the green light today to begin framing and mounting the final selections. Nee said that by waiting until the final photos had been selected, the overall cost of the project can remain within budget.

“I’m trying to keep things at the original cost estimate. So by ordering the frames all at once the framer can get a volume discount” Nee remarked. “I know that we need to stay cost effective here.”

Nee said that the county has been fortunate during the design process because several distinguished professionals have donated time and photographs to beautify the public space.

For example, New York food photographer Matthew Klein provided many expansive aerial shots of Clarke County taken from a recent balloon ride he made over the southern side of the county. Klein’s beautiful green vistas speckled with farm fields and bordered by the Blue Ridge and Shenandoah River will eventually adorn the building’s walls. Likewise, Millwood photographer John Lewis’s work, which captures many of the county’s iconic landmarks, will provide a centerpiece for historic photos selected by Clarke County historian Maral Kalbian.

Many of the photos selected by Kalbian also appear in her new book Images of  America – Clarke County. Next, Nee and Kalbian plan to develop captions for the historic images that visitors will be able to read in a central “legend” area of the building. The legend will allow visitors to learn the history behind each photo even though some photos will be mounted in higher locations.

At Wednesday’s session, the selection committee spent one last look reviewing all of the selected photos as well as the aerial images provided by Matthew Klein. While Klein’s shots differed from the historic photos in that people and places are generally difficult to identify, the high vistas make Clarke County appear almost as a green blanket with toy houses and matchbox car roads scattered about.

Several committee members remarked that Klein’s photography provided a new perspective by showing the fields, forests, river and mountains all at once as well as accentuating the county’s vast open spaces.

“Some people might look at these pictures and think that they’re boring” said Berryville Town Manager Keith Dalton “But seeing the river, the mountains and the greenery makes a statement.”

Nee says that she hopes to enlarge Klein’s balloon photos to approximately 36-inches before framing and mounting.

No specific timetable has yet been announced for when the project will be completed.