Bagley celebrates 50 Year Career with Retrospective Exhibition

Published 11:00 am Friday, November 25, 2022

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Those who were involved in the central Virginia arts scene decades ago often share a common tale. Their stories – now approaching legend – recount long lines of people “camping out” during the dark, pre-dawn hours prior to the opening of the Heart of Virginia Festival – not for a musical act but for a chance to buy one of Eldridge Bagley’s paintings when he exhibited there.

Reflections of the Heart: Eldridge Bagley – 50 Years of Painting is a retrospective that deftly weaves the artist’s personal history tightly to the regional culture and landscapes of Southside Virginia. Throughout is long career, Bagley has invited people to connect their individual experiences with his. His scenes often prompt commonly shared memories of brief but cherished moments. Paintings of farming, faith, food, cars, and family open windows to timeless and accessible themes of love, work, land, and change.

“I started painting in my late 20s, (while) I was still tobacco farming with my parents,” Bagley explains. As a self-taught artist he has produced and sold hundreds of paintings. Deeply rooted in the natural and human community of his parents and grandparents, Bagley celebrates the traditions and values of rural Virginia. “I haven’t just heard about Southside Virginia and thought, ‘Well, that sounds like an idyllic place to go and spend some time.’ I’ve lived here,” he emphasizes. “I’ve pulled tobacco; I’ve plowed behind a mule; I’ve brought in wood; I’ve shucked corn; I’ve helped with (Brunswick) stews — I’ve done almost everything that can be done around here.” His paintings are not simply documentation of his experiences, but tell enduring stories and communicate a rich variety of inner feelings about people, places, and events.

Born in 1945, Eldridge Bagley still lives and works in rural Lunenburg County, Virginia, where he was raised. He and his wife, Beth, live on farmland that has been in his family for three generations. Their son, Wade, and his family reside nearby.

The Longwood Center for the Visual Arts (LCVA) welcomes the community to an opening reception on Friday, Dec. 9 from 5:30 – 8 pm; early entry for friends and partners at 5 p.m. This exhibition is guest curated by Jay Williams and Alex Grabiec and will be on view from Dec. 10 — April 16, 2023. This exhibition is made possible in part through the generous sponsorship of Brad Watson and Davenport & Co., Farmville.


The Longwood Center for the Visual Arts presents a rotating program of inspiring and conversation-starting exhibitions. Admission to LCVA and its programs is — and always has been — free for all. It is located at the intersection of Main and Third Streets (129 North Main Street) in Farmville, Virginia. For additional information on these exhibitions or other programs and events, contact LCVA at (434) 395 -2206 or visit LCVA’s website at