Offering ‘A Sense of Place’: Eldridge Bagley prepares for new show

When Lunenburg County artist Eldridge Bagley began painting in 1973, he didn’t need to search for inspiration. He was already deeply “planted” in and surrounded by the land, the people, and a way of life that yielded a rich harvest of subject matter. The majority of Bagley’s paintings reveal an intimate link to a rural lifestyle that continues to inspire his art. Now residents will have a chance to see more of his work, through “A Sense of Place.” 

“There is a reason why I chose ‘A Sense of Place’ for the title of this exhibit,” Bagley said. “While some are called to faraway places, I have always known that I wanted to remain where I was planted. As one who has lived all his life in the same place, I find that my awareness of my surroundings has grown significantly over time. I have been able to gain some revealing insights into the human experience as I observe the ebb and flow of daily life around me.”

Born in 1945, Eldridge Bagley still lives and works here in Lunenburg, 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. And while it’s tempting to label Bagley’s paintings as nostalgic, that’s not the ultimate goal, he says. 

“Many refer to life in the recent past as ‘the good old days,” Bagley said. “As I recall, some of those ‘good old days’ were not really so good, considering the intensely hard labor in tobacco fields and the struggles and challenges of farming. My intent is to preserve on canvas an authentic and balanced view of life as I have known it.”

Finding inspiration

Bagley said he finds inspiration for living and for his art in the gently rolling hills, the small creeks and the country roads that wind through those hills.

“Beyond that,” he says, “I have found inspiration in the people who live all around me. The majority of my art is based upon life on this land and among these people. The stories that I share in my art and writing are not merely my own stories but also the stories of others who have lived a similar lifestyle. Living here in southside Virginia has proven to be a profoundly enriching experience and has impressed upon me a vibrant and enduring ‘sense of place.’ It is my hope that my art and my writing attest to this.”

Where will Eldridge Bagley exhibit open?

His latest exhibit, “A Sense of Place”, will open up just over the border at the MacCallum More Museum on Saturday, April 27, running from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Bagley himself will be in the museum from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.