We recently spoke to Jenni Kirby, owner of Crossroads Art Center.
Tell us a little about yourself? (grew up where, in RVA for how long?, etc)
I was born in Wilmington NC but was raised in Marion VA. Marion is in the mountains of swva near the tn/nc borders. I grew up literally in Hungry Mother State Park on some of the only private property. It was the perfect place to raise kids as my parents put it. I have 5 brothers, one sister living and one sister who died when I was 18. Two brothers live in the RIC area, two in Atlanta, one in Marion, and my sister in Wilmington NC. With the marriage of my stepfather, I have gained two more brothers who live in Marion and NOVA. It is a very crazy well functioning family given all the yours mine and ours. We all get along great and treat each other like blood kin.
I went to Mary Washington College (University) and have a BS in Business. I lived in NOVA after college and the RIC, the first time, in 1988 – 1990. Worked for the Arthritis Foundation back then.
Got married and moved to Orlando Fl for about 8 years. Worked at the office supply and furniture company my husband and brother-in-law owned. Got divorced and live in Tampa for a while. Work for CIGNA Healthcare and Hallmark Cards (worked with 20 some stores at corp. level).
I moved back to ric New Years Eve 1999.
What is Crossroads, how long have you been there?
James Bassfield and I started Crossroads Art Center in 2002 so we are into our 11th year. James retired last year so it is just me and a great team running the show.
What were some of the things you did before Crossorads? See above
After moving back to RIC I taught mosaics at The VMFA, Visual Arts Center (then the Hand Workshop), John Tyler and J Sergeant and U of R.
What do you love most about Crossroads? The diversity of the day. I may be working on marketing in the morning and financials in the afternoon or painting a wall for an artist to move onto, or hanging lights or a show the next. I also like helping the artists. Most artists have no idea how to market their work so I can help them do that. It is rewarding when they sell that first piece – to see the big smile or hear the scream in the phone of excitement.
What is a typical day like for you? See above
Never a typical day. I could be plunging a toilet/washing windows to meeting the a top executive who wants to furnish their corporate offices.
What do you enjoy doing in your down time?
Downtime? I have trouble sitting still so -- Not sure what that is lately but –
I walk in the morning at 6:30am for an hour. Dinner with friends either me cooking or out on the own. Doing my own art – mosaics. Getting back to Marion and the farm/family. Travel – I am on a train to NYC to meet up with friends who live there.
Tell us some of your favorites:
Book- I tend to have several going at once. One business/market related, one history and one romance. Depending on the mood that is what I read.
Food- Thai and Greek (feel in love with it when I was there), Asian, Southern (anything with butter), Seafood (never meet a crustacean I did not like).
Music- Diverse (rock to symphony) I played the flute and boson when I was in middle and high school.
Vacation Spot – Crete, Greece -- Farm in Marion – Wrightsville Beach/Family --
Any words of wisdom to our readers on how to keep your dreams alive? Even if you are 60 and just retiring explore that inner artist. Many of our artists had to stop being an artist and raise a family or go to work. Now that they have retired it is all they want to do – paint, draw etc.. It is never too late to go for the dream. You just need to figure out how. Write your priorities down. Organize them. Then start working on them. Check them off as you go.
Anything else you may want to share that I may not have covered?
Life can be complicated if you let it be that way. Don’t let it be that way.
Start with a well laid out plan but be flexible to change that plan in a minute if you see a better way to accomplish your goals.
Don’t get stuck in a rut!
Think outside the box!
Don’t be normal! It’s too predictable and boring!