Who They Are:
Larkin Arts is a hub of arts-related information, materials, education, and working space located in downtown Harrisonburg. Valerie Smith, who successfully ran Larkin Art Studios from 2006-2009 and currently runs both a summer arts program at JMU and teaches art in Harrisonburg public schools, is the primary owner and operator, along with her husband, Scott Whitten, and artist Lynda Bostrom. Valerie and the rest of the administrative team have strong connections in the local art and music scenes, and have helped build art education, gallery space, and more in the area. Now, Valerie is making Larkin Arts a dynamic community art center by combining four components: an art supply store, which will be the only locally owned store from Winchester to Staunton; a fine arts gallery; a school, with classes on different topics for all ages; and private studio spaces.
As Valerie puts it, she and Larkin Arts are “committed to promoting and supporting artists and enthusiasts of all ages and levels.” As such, the four symbiotic components of Larkin Arts provide information and education to everyone in the community, allowing them to explore their creativity more in a convenient, supportive space. And Valerie’s energy for bringing art to her neighbors of all ages is evident, whether she is helping to sponsor or coordinate local community events or offering free face painting to kids at the farmers market.
How did you get here?
Valerie has been teaching art in Virginia public schools for over eleven years, in addition to coordinating the Summer Youth Art Program since 2008. Her past experience as an entrepreneur came through Larkin Art Studios from 2006-2009. This business housed a gallery that showed work by local artists each month and a school that ran several classes per week, for both children and adults. Valerie was the primary instructor for these classes and the host and gallery assistant for each art exhibit. Having received many inquiries about Larkin Arts Studios over the years, Valerie and Scott decided to launch Larkin Arts in order to fill several important gaps and niches in fine arts and crafts in the Harrisonburg area.
61 Court Square
Harrisonburg, VA 22801