The Business of Art

Here in Caswell County, there is a vibrant art community that is becoming larger and stronger. If you visit the Caswell County Council for the Arts or especially if you stop into the Milton Studio Art Gallery, you will see right away that ART is indeed a business that can make us all smile.

On a beautiful Saturday morning in September, the Chamber and gallery owner, Shirley Cadmus sat down to discuss a few exciting recognitions that this particular Caswell Artist is being recognized for in October.  At the National Juried Craft Show in Hilton Head Island, SC, Shirley has one of her raku fired pottery works being exhibited. 

‘American’ or ‘Western’ raku is a process in which pottery work is removed from the kiln at bright red heat (about 1800 degrees) and is then placed in a container of combustible materials such as sawdust, paper and dried leaves. The materials absorb the oxygen out of the glaze on the pottery and then water is poured on to cool it quickly.  The types of materials included, the weather of the day and the heat variations, create a uniqueness of results.  The pottery being recognized at the Hilton Head event is pictured with Shirley in the photo. 

A retired art teacher from George Washington High School in Danville, VA, Shirley Cadmus is originally from Bayville, New Jersey.  Initially she thought she wanted to be a Spanish teacher and went to JMU to become one.  After visiting the college’s art department, she decided art was what she was destined to do.  She then changed her major and as they say, ‘the rest is history’.  

Upon graduation from college, the placement office notified her about a teaching job in Danville, VA and that is where her career began and flourished over many years.  After nine years of teaching pottery, computers appeared as a new part of the art community.  Not afraid of change and Shirley being influenced by the work Andy Warhol was doing on the Amiga computer, she dove in and became a self-taught graphic artist on the computer in the 1980s and developed a computer art and animation course. Shirley served as adjunct professor at DCC and Averett University where she taught various art and photoshop classes.   Twelve years ago Shirley and two artist friends created the art gallery in downtown Milton and the gallery has been there ever since.

The gallery contains paintings and artwork of over 60 artists from Caswell and the surrounding areas.  Here they market their work and Shirley helps promote the artists through the gallery’s website (, the gallery’s Facebook page, and a marketing brochure. It is a great example of the art community working together to help all succeed.  Shirley enters her own work in art shows across the nation.  She has been recognized from California to the east coast.  This fall, Shirley is being recognized in an international virtual art show with her piece entitled COVID-19. It is a mixed media piece including the work of a 3-D pen, paint and paint markers/pens and is being recognized until November 4, 2020 at the Political Discourse Show. 

Other artists represented at the gallery include:

Alex Sharp, Milton (owner Milltown Eatery)

Karen Williamson, Milton

Will Williams, Caswell, steel cuttings in gallery

Russell Watlington, Yanceyville, Caswell related pen/ink scenes 

Sue Seamon, Yanceyville, paintings

Ross Frederick and Mimi Proctor Games, Hillsboro

Jane Williams, Durham, potter

Hendrika Vande Kemp, Durham, old Dutch technique/Iris Paper decoration

Chrystal Hardt, Hillsborough

Carol Hollinger, Chapel Hill

Linda and Bob Zirillo, Roxboro

Beth Bale, Sanford, watercolorist 

Jane Carter, Providence, painter
Jared Terrell, Yanceyville, artist/art teacher at Bartlett Yancey High School
Diane Kendrick of Milton/Danville
Sarah Bolduc and Andrea Burke From Clarksville and Littleton
Sam Lasris, Cedar Grove, paper collages/other 3D works with found objects 
Brent McSherry, Semora, photography
Poplar Branch Pottery, Roxboro
Robert Whiteman, Dryfork, VA, paints realistic people/scenes in ancient technique of Egg Tempera

Steve Garner, Roxboro, hand carved owls, ducks, and crosses
Ernest Dixon, Person County, handmade pine straw baskets 

Most all are award winning artists.  So the next time you are in Milton on a weekend, be sure to stop in to visit, and let Shirley know you read about her in this article and explore some of the work that our county artists have for sale there.

As published in The Caswell Messenger October 7, 2020

Written by AC Hodges