At 607 Madison Street in Lynchburg, Virginia sits Madison House of the Arts, Madison House, or MHOA. What seems like just a colorful home to passers-by, in reality, Madison House is “home” to many artists and their work.
Homeowner Carrie Robinson purchased Madison House over 8 years ago and it wasn’t long after she moved in that a few trips to bigger cities sparked the inspiration behind the house of arts.
“I took a trip to Detroit, Michigan where everyone said to not go there, but the art blew me away,” said Carrie. “Yes, I was blown away by the art, but what really surprised me was that it seemed like art is what held that city together.” “Artistry was visibly everywhere from graffiti, to clinic murals, and projects like The Heidelberg Project not only saved the Detroit community but brought the community together.”
“Everyone told me ‘No one is going to come to your house for art’, but I thought about bigger cities like Detroit and Richmond who were doing it and thought I could do this here in Lynchburg,” said Carrie. “I had this big house with a big basement I wasn’t using for storage and that’s what really kicked things off.”
Madison House of the Arts originally started with one art show a month with no major requirements. “If you were happy with what you were doing whether it be making music, creating art, using art as an outlet or coping mechanism that’s all I was encouraging,” said Carrie. “The kids in that area were a big factor as well. Most of the kids in the neighborhood had never participated in much art where at Madison House they can be completely hands-on, play instruments, learn about art, and even color on the floor.”
“The once-a-month art shows spun off into many other events from then on like our open jam nights with Madison House Open Jam, poetry nights, writing nights, paint night, art critic night, and more,” said Carrie.
Madison House prides itself on being a creative space with a mission to unite people and improve local neighborhoods through Art. MHOA artist Kris Collins said, “The emphasis on community and working together as a collective is one of many reasons of what attracted and brought me to MHOA.” “I think it’s important to see that Madison House is an actual art house that for years has featured artists and members (past and current) who make it what it is. It’s a community and tribe of like-minded individuals who are not only here to show the city how we express ourselves but to also make a positive impact on the Greater Lynchburg Community.”
“There have been so many people have come through Madison House and the stories they bring with them are incredibly unique,” said Carrie. “It’s always been a rule ‘No Drugs or Alcohol’, but through individual conversation, I learned that many artists coming to Madison House were dealing with mental health issues, recovering, or are sober.”
“Art is my escape. It allows me to recharge and release stress and tension and unload all the emotions I deal with in my day-to-day life,” said Madison House Artist Jennifer Phelps.
MHOA Artist Wendy Boatwright said, “I’ve always had a love of music and how Madison House offers a safe space that’s inclusive for all genders, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Basically, everyone is welcome, kids and adults, there are many single parents as well and I love that!”
Like Madison House, the Academy Center of the Arts takes pride in our mission which includes three core values: community, creativity, and equity. These values help ensure that our arts programming is accessible to everyone in Central Virginia.
“By partnering with Madison House for our August 2021 Exhibition we were able to showcase over 30 different artists,” said Ted Batt Academy Director of Visual Arts. “Not only were we able to bring new artists into our galleries, but we were able to bring the community together through the arts.”
The Academy hosted its August First Fridays event on Friday, August 6th from 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM. The evening consisted of viewing pieces from over 30+ Madison House artists featured in the Ann White Academy Gallery, live music from Madison House Open Jam, spoken word, and connecting community members together through art.
“This wasn’t my first time at the Academy, but it was my first time having art displayed at the Academy, and it was truly an honor,” said Jennifer Phelps. “I would strongly encourage anyone that has not attended First Fridays to attend. It’s a great opportunity to expose yourself to art, it’s free, and you get to soak in the art culture.”
Madison House artist Tonya Armenti spoke of her First Friday’s experience and said, “First Friday’s is a great way to explore Downtown Lynchburg. Get involved in your community and support a local artist. Many pieces are for sale. Some artists are open to making custom pieces for your private collection.”
Join us for First Fridays in the Academy Galleries on the first Friday of each month from 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM. Visit our galleries Monday – Friday from 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM, or by making an appointment with Ted Batt, Director of Visual Arts, at [email protected]