The Gaines Group Architects

September 28 2017                                                                                                     Harrisonburg First Friday Art Gallery Opening At The Depot          

I love hosting artists in our space. It gives them a place to engage fans, sell their work, and frankly makes our space look even better. It takes time and money to hang the work, feed the attendees, and host the party. It is so worth it for me! This past month our artist was able to sell two pieces during the opening. Her work is amazing and I love that it found a home. This month our artist did an ink drawing of the depot as part of the show – how cool is that?

Please come visit us. We have free parking, plenty of food and drink, and amazing art to look at and talk about. See you on October 6th!

Official announcement:

Each month we host a new artist in our building’s 2nd floor gallery at the Chesapeake Western Depot at 141 W. Bruce St. (second floor entrance is on Chesapeake). Artwork will remain on exhibit through the month. Come view the show and get a tour the Depot! We will have refreshments available!

Artist Statement

As an artist that loves this town, I try to capture the spirit of Harrisonburg in the quick strokes of the pen. There is a creative energy that I feel when I walk these streets. A vibration seeking to burst from the stone and bricks. On strictly architectural terms, the first impression might reveal little more than another small southern town but have begun to perceive a more distinguished collection of structure and space that potentially materializes from years of accumulated experiences. Rather than attempting to capture an exact photographic representation, I tend to let memories and history rise to the surface. If any of the musicality that I feel in the heart of our city is expressed in the renderings of these architectural portraits, then I suppose I have achieved some level of success with this pursuit.


Elwood Madison is a local artist and designer with a special interest in whimsical, playful imagery. Much of his recent work is composed of unconventional ink and watercolors of both recognizable and less obvious public spaces in Downtown Harrisonburg. He currently is working as a graphic designer and illustrator for various locally based small businesses.

Augusta Free Press

September 22 2017                                                                                                       Court Square Theater Reaches End Goal For Save A Seat Campaign

After a nearly 10-month campaign, Arts Council of the Valley has reached its Court Square Theater Save a Seat fundraising goal.

The Save a Seat campaign launched in November 2016 as a means of raising funds to replace the seats in ACV’s historic Court Square Theater. The Harrisonburg-Rockingham County community has made a point of noting the need for new seats, which were not new when Court Square Theater first opened its doors in 1998, though the endeavor has remained a dream for over a decade.

Now, that dream has finally become a reality.

Since the culmination of the Save a Seat campaign, Court Square Theater has selected and ordered new seats, which have an expected installation date of Winter 2017. In the meantime, visitors will have an opportunity to test a sample seat in the theater lobby when it arrives in the coming weeks.

When asked how it feels to finally reach the finish line, theater manager Mark Finks notes, “I really have to extend a huge thank you to the community, because we couldn’t have done it without you. We’re excited to finally get new seats – it’s been a long time coming.”

Court Square Theater is located at 41-F Court Square in downtown Harrisonburg, Virginia.

Augusta Free Press

September 21 2017                                                                                                       Valley Playhouse to perform critically-acclaimed ‘Agnes of God’      

Harrisonburg and Rockingham County’s community Valley Playhouse will premiere the riveting Broadway and film hit “Agnes of God” at Arts Council of the Valley’s Court Square Theater this October 12-15 and 19-22. 

Valley Playhouse’s production of “Agnes of God” is directed by JMU professor emeritus Tom Arthur and features actresses Jennifer Murch, Kathleen Wynn Holter, and Emma Leweke in the three-woman cast.

Performances of “Agnes of God” take place at Arts Council of the Valley’s Court Square Theater October 12-14 and 19-21 at 7:30 PM and October 15 and 22 at 3:00 PM. Adult tickets are $12 advance, $14 at door; senior tickets are $10 advance, $12 at door.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit or call 540.433.9189.

Court Square Theater is located at 41-F Court Square in downtown Harrisonburg, Virginia.


September 20 2017                                                                                                       United Way Kicks Off Campaign With Celebration                                          Marina Barnett                                                                                                     

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) -- The Harrisonburg/ Rockingham County United Way held their community impact campaign kick-off celebration on Wednesday to inspire people in the community to give back.

This year, they celebrate 60 years of helping people in the Valley. The celebration started in Court Square Theater where local leaders talked about the people they impact.

United Way Co-Chair Alan Shelton said this year's campaign is in honor of Charlie Wampler who dedicated many years of service to United Way.

United Way supports clubs like Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Blue Ridge Legal Services and Stuff the Bus.

All of the money raised through united way stays in the community.

"Just remember who you're giving to and what you're giving to. You're giving to help human beings and it may not be people in a crisis. It may be people who need affordable daycare, but to help those folks to see more in life then they are seeing now, so that's what United Way does," said Shelton.

United Way's goal t is to raise $1.8 million dollars this year.

The Daily News Record

September 19 2017                                                                                                    We Unite As One                                                                                                            Shelby Mertens                                                                                                  

The theme of this year’s 20th annual Harrisonburg International Festival, “Out of Many, One,” seeks to show unity in a climate that seems all too divisive.

“[It’s] the idea that within Harrisonburg, there’s so many languages spoken, so many cultures and cuisines, but through it all, there’s a sense of unity that we all coexist together,” said International Festival Director Alan Qambari. “We unite as one.”

The festival highlights food, dance, music and culture from more than 25 countries around the world. This year’s festival will take place on Saturday, Sept. 30, from noon to 6 p.m.

The International Festival attracts 8,000 to 9,000 people to Hillandale Park every year. But Qambari is expecting the festival to have an even bigger turnout this year, judging from the activity on the festival’s social media pages, which he said has tripled. He suspects the growing interest has to do with the current political climate.

About 30 to 40 local nonprofits and organizations will have display booths set up in the Global Village. With around 50 different languages spoken in the city schools, the festival is always reaching out to the community to bring in more organizations, groups and cultures.

“Our goal is to get as much of those groups and languages represented,” Qambari said.

This year’s headliner is La Alma Latina, a ballet dance group from the Washington, D.C. area., and Up With People, an organization of international students who travel the globe to perform live and offer volunteer service. Their performance at the International Festival will incorporate various dances from around the world, Qambari said.

The festival will, of course, still open with the Aztec dance by indigenous tribes, and will end with the traditional Kurdish line dancing.

“That’s the one constant that always exists,” he said. “The type of dance they do is probably the easiest to pick up and the most inclusive.”

The food offered at the festival will represent a palette of ethnic cuisine, with food from local restaurants and food trucks such as El Sol, El Milagro, Taste of India, UBON Thai, Mashita, Paella Perfecta and Al-Barakah Restaurant and Pastry.

The Harrisonburg International Festival is free to attend and is held rain or shine.

Diversity Through Art

For more cultural immersion, four award-winning Spanish language films will be shown at Court Square Theater Sept. 27-Oct. 1 for the Hispanic Film Festival in Harrisonburg.

Now in its 14th year, the festival changed its name from “Latino” to “Hispanic” Film Festival in an effort to encompass more Spanish-speaking cultures, said Karina Kline-Gabel, a Spanish language professor at James Madison University and founder of the festival.

“We changed it to ‘Hispanic’ this year so that it would be inclusive of movies from Spain as well,” she said. “The word ‘Latino’ has changed a little bit, too. Sometimes it means more of Spanish speakers from the U.S. versus just the adjective of being from a Spanish-speaking country, so we felt like ‘Hispanic’ just kept us more into the category that we wanted to be in.”

Each year, the festival tends to have a focus. This time, the Hispanic Film Festival is showing movies from Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

“Due to this climate that we’re in, it felt really necessary to try to highlight some cultures that perhaps we don’t see in film a lot, so our focus has been on representing the Caribbean Spanish-speaking countries,” Kline-Gabel said.

The stories all emphasize the human connection, she said.

The first film, “La Granja” is a 2015 Puerto Rican drama directed by Angel Manuel Soto. The title translates to “The Farm” in Spanish. “La Granja” tells the stories of, “a promising young boxer, a barren midwife and a fat kid with a bike: three intersecting stories about the pursuit of happiness and it’s unanticipated consequences during the economic collapse of the island of Puerto Rico,” according to the Internet Movie Database (IMDb). The film won Best Narrative Feature at the Urbanworld Film Festival and Best Opera Prima at the Guadalajara Film Festival.

“There’s a lot more around these stories: sadness and poverty — realism,” Kline-Gabel said.

“La Granja” will be showing Sept. 27 at 7 p.m. and Sept. 28 at 9:30 p.m.

The 2017 drama “Carpinteros,” or “Woodpeckers,” will be showing on Sept. 27 at 9:30 p.m. and Oct. 1 at 7 p.m. The film, directed by Jose Maria Cabral, is about a man incarcerated in a prison in the Dominican Republic who uses sign language to communicate to his imprisoned girlfriend.

“Santa y Andres” is the third film to be shown at the film festival on Sept. 28 at 7 p.m. and Sept. 30 at 8 p.m. Directed by Carlos Lechuga, the 2016 political drama is set in Cuba in 1983, when the Cuban government bans a gay novelist from writing. Under house arrest, a peasant woman is ordered to watch him, and the two form an “unlikely” friendship.

Another Cuban film will be shown at the festival: “Esteban,” directed by Jonal Cosculluela. The 2016 drama is about a 9-year-old boy named Esteban who is an aspiring pianist. “Esteban” won the Audience Choice Award at the Chicago Latino Film Festival. The film is showing at Court Square Theater on Sept. 29 at 8 p.m. and Oct. 1 at 4 p.m.

“Each of the characters are very unique in each film,” Kline-Gabel said. “We have two films where the main characters are young boys, for instance, and I think that’s very relevant because we can all kind of identify a little bit with being a child that wants a better life.”

The Hispanic Film Festival, sponsored by the Arts Council of the Valley, dates back to 2003. Kline-Gabel started the film festival to create an event to celebrate Harrisonburg’s growing Spanish-speaking community.

“It’s become just one of the events in Harrisonburg that people look forward to every year,” she said.

All the films are subtitled. None of the films are rated, but Kline-Gabel said the films are intended for mature audiences.

For the last two years, Kline-Gabel has also started a program for students at Harrisonburg High School called Cine Mas, which brings an ageappropriate Spanish language film to the high school. The event will be held in October this year.

Tickets for each film are $5 for students, $8.50 for seniors, $9.50 for adults and $8 for matinee showtimes.


Augusta Free Press

September 11 2017                                                                                                      Nickels & Wiener to work their comedy chops at Court Square Theater

Two-man improv comedy duo Nickels & Wiener will return to Arts Council of the Valley’s Court Square Theater on Saturday, September 23 for another spectacular, joke-filled performance.

Mr. Bill Nickels and Mr. Bill Wiener met at a grocery stand in Harrisonburg, Virginia in 1994. Both men were shopping for “fresh carrots” when Bill Wiener mistakenly thought he heard Nickels say “flesh ferrets” and panicked. In the violent brawl that followed, an immediate improv comedy connection was born. 

Nickels & Wiener will perform at Arts Council of the Valley’s Court Square Theater on Saturday, September 23. Doors open at 7:30 PM, with the show beginning at 8:00 PM. Being an improv comedy performance, mature content is likely. Tickets are $7 in advance, $9 day of show. 

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit or call 540.433.9189. Arts Council of the Valley’s Court Square Theater is located at 41-F Court Square in downtown Harrisonburg.