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Celebrating 48 years of camaraderie and culture: The story behind Arts in the Park

Posted at 8:29 PM, May 05, 2019

RICHMOND, Va. -- More than 400 artists from across the country came to celebrate the 48th annual Arts in the Park in Richmond’s Byrd Park.

"Arts in the Park was started to bring all of the different backgrounds and races together for a common goal," Paige Quilter said.

Paige Quilter

Paige Quilter

Quilter says her mother and other community members started the art show during a time when realtors were knocking on doors telling those in the neighborhood to sell their homes due to other ethnic and religious groups moving in. But instead, her mother and others in the community brought everyone together by creating Arts in the Park.

That embrace would later bring in artists like Jim Spillane. For the past 25 years, he has been showing his work from around the world, helping one person at a time.

"I actually used to be a criminal defense attorney in Alaska and California, but I studied photography under Marion Patterson," Spillane reflected.

Jim Spillane

Jim Spillane

Spillane told WTVR CBS 6 his work speaks a truth not many can tell in Nepal.

"Sometimes I forget that I've traveled and have had these experiences and assume other people know about the injustices," Spillane said.

Those are many obstacles not a lot of people are exposed to.

"These are the brick factory workers. They’re getting lung injuries and eye injuries," Spillane said. "I didn’t know how to do it, how to tell their story. I could show all the eye injuries, but I decided to show handsome men, good-looking women and cute little kids."

Arts in the Park

Arts in the Park

But unfortunately all good things must come to an end as Jim plans to retire after one last tour of different shows this year.

"I'll be 77 in October, time is more valuable than money," Spillane said. "You only have so many few days."

But as a parting gift for future and budding artist and photographers Spillane leaves this:

"Visual art, you’ve got line meaning composition, color and light but that’s like wood and nails are for a house. They’re just the tools. You still need that 'X' factor. You still have to be in love with your subject, because it's gonna show."

For more information on Arts in the Park click here and for more information on Jim Spillane visit his website.