CRESTON — After teaching high school art classes for 42 years in Virginia and the District of Columbia., retired artist Gary Spicer now uses his talent and expertise toward serving the Creston community.
He began his involvement with Riverview Community Center after RCC volunteer Dave Ahrens told him they were considering the addition of a mural in the gym. It was determined that the mural would require a large amount of paint, so they began collecting paint from places such as garages and basements for Spicer to use.
According to Spicer, it took him 4-5 days to paint the mural which is located on the wall of the stage in the newly-renovated RCC gym. When Spicer began painting the mural last year, it was wintertime and there was no heat in the gym. The restoration process was not complete and several sections near the top of the wall had cinderblocks that contained mold or chipped paint.
After retiring from his career as an art teacher, Spicer and his wife, Rita, purchased a farmhouse in Creston that was built in 1918. Since acquiring the property six years ago, they have been restoring the farmhouse and Spicer has converted the carriage house into an art studio. He also uses sections of the barn to complete oversized art projects.
The Spicers set their home up as an LLC to eventually become a bed and breakfast to rent bedrooms out to people visiting the area. They named the farm "North Fork" as a nod to the name of the Creston area until 1882.
The house and its grounds were originally owned by the McEwen family. Wm. James McEwen was a farmer and his wife, Alice Baker was Creston's eighth recorded Postmaster. The original owners were both born during the Civil War and are buried on the property.
To complete the outside mural at RCC, which is 16 feet long, Spicer painted the wood in the top floor of the barn.
The mural features Three Top Mountain and depicts the colors of summer, fall, winter and spring.
"The community center serves this community all four seasons," Spicer said of the painting.
Previously, there were old two-by-fours hooked to the wall, so Spicer completed the painting to fit the two-by-fours and then mounted it to the wall as a replacement.
Several prints of Spicer's paintings of RCC are available for purchase and the proceeds of any sold go toward the center.
Spicer is also an active member of Creston United Methodist Church and has painted several paintings of the church, as well as paintings for some of the congregants.
Those interested in viewing any of Spicer's work can do so by visiting the Seaside Art Gallery website at www.seasideart.com/collections/gary-spicer.