Discover the magic!

The Olde Towne experience has been treasured by visitors the world over-an opportunity to shop our fine antique shops, visit our galleries and unique specialty stores, enjoy excellent dining, both indoors and out in one of our many fine restaurants and pubs. Discover all of the magic yourself.
Discover Olde Towne Portsmouth!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Public Art Helps Engage Community

John Joyce has headed a beautification committee in Portsmouth for several years. Here, he kneels next to a bronze toad outside the Children's Museum of Virginia on Aug. 1, 2013. (Hyunsoo Leo Kim | The Virginian-Pilot)

Our Views
A commentary from the Virginian-Pilot 
August 11, 2013

   ART CONFINED to a museum speaks to a select few; public art speaks to everyone. That critical difference says volumes about a place.

   Public art articulates a city’s priorities, its values, its vision for itself. And while beauty will always be in the eyes of the beholder, the mere effort to beautify stands as evidence of a community’s intellectual and aesthetic ambitions.

   That’s why great cities don’t build courthouses or city halls that look like strip malls: Public architecture says something about what a place finds important.

   So, indeed, does public art.

   The Pilot’s Janie Bryant recently detailed new efforts to bring art to Portsmouth’s streets. In a place struggling with pockets of endemic poverty, with constant fiscal difficulties, with a huge infrastructure backlog, art may seem like a low priority for Portsmouth .

   But the Supporters of Portsmouth Public Art have recognized that the mere effort to make the city more beautiful is an example of the kind of civic engagement that helps every place it happens. Because that kind of citizen involvement underlies every effort to move a community forward.

   The group was born with the desire to save a bronze toad, which won hearts at a city sculpture competition. The group raised $8,000 to keep the outsized critter in Portsmouth.

   Naysayers look at the metal amphibian near the Children’s Museum of Virginia and see squandered money and energy that could’ve been spent on other things.

   Children see a nose to rub for luck.

   All the thousands of people who believe in Portsmouth, who believe in what’s possible through hard work and hope, will see the city grow a little brighter as each hand passes over the toad’s nose, as each person finds delight in another unexpected mural, in every surprise sculpture.

   Portsmouth’s future lies with them.

Portsmouth Art Movement Gains Traction

John Joyce has headed a beautification committee in Portsmouth for several years. Here, he kneels next to a bronze toad outside the Children's Museum of Virginia on Aug. 1, 2013. (Hyunsoo Leo Kim | The Virginian-Pilot)

By Janie Bryant

It started two years ago with a toad.
Not just any toad. This was a child-size bronze amphibian entered into Portsmouth's annual outdoor sculpture competition.
Children loved it, warts and all. So did art advocates who were loath to see it leave the city. So they raised about $8,000, and the toad now squats permanently outside the Children's Museum of Virginia.
That push gave birth to the Supporters of Portsmouth Public Art, a growing group of art lovers who have made it their mission to preserve and spread art throughout the city.
"Not just downtown," said John Joyce, president of the Supporters of Portsmouth Public Art. "Not just midtown."
It's a trend of beautification that has taken off in cities across the country, a natural offshoot of downtown revitalization efforts, according to Nancy Perry, Portsmouth's director of museums.
Norfolk established a public art program in 2006. Since then, the city has spent about $2 million on an array of projects, including an elephant sculpture at the Virginia Zoo and art along the light-rail route.
Public art is something Joyce always looks for when he travels. His favorites are works that have "a little bit of humor," he said.
Barbara Vincent, an artist who is part of the effort, also takes note of what other cities do.
"Thoughts Running Like a River" by Pattie Porker Firestone is in the Portsmouth Art and 
Cultural Center Courtyard on Aug. 1, 2013 (Photo by Hyunsoo Leo Kim/ The Virginian-Pilot)

"We want to make it clear to people that we're not just going to buy sculpture and plop it in front of buildings," said Vincent, who owned an art gallery in Olde Towne for several years.
Public art can be anything from whimsical bike racks and park benches to murals, she and Joyce said. In some cities, Vincent has even seen crosswalks painted as public art.
"If you improve the way your environment looks, it will improve your sensibilities," she said.
Joyce and Vincent are Olde Towne residents who are active in the community: For several years, Joyce has headed a beautification committee that has improved and maintained medians and parks in the city's oldest neighborhood. Vincent is a former chairwoman of the Museum and Fine Arts Commission. Joyce was on the commission, too.
The Supporters of Portsmouth Public Art is largely made up of people who have worked behind the scenes to build the city's art offerings. In addition to Joyce and Vincent, who are longtime patrons of the arts, Sue Landerman, a Portsmouth sculptor whose work on brick can be seen at universities and schools all over the country, is a member. Landerman sculpted the bronze statue of Col. William Crawford, the founder of Portsmouth, at High and Crawford streets.

Malani Green, 3 of Hampton, checks out the bronze toad in front of the Children's Museum of Virginia in Portsmouth on Aug. 1 2013 (photo by Hyunsoo Leo Kim/ the Virginian-Pilot)

Other members, including retired Pilot reporter and columnist Ida Kay Jordan, give Landerman credit for efforts to save the Al Hirschfeld-style mural from The Circle, a 1940s restaurant that was slated for demolition.
The organization plans to work with the city to help its civic leagues and other groups use art to enhance neighborhoods and schools. And it has come on the scene at a good time: New City Manager John Rowe is a believer in the power of art to make a city appear welcoming.
"It's a concept and an idea that John is really pushing people to embrace," Perry said.
Perry has attended meetings of the nonprofit as a city liaison. She's also getting direction from Rowe on projects he wants the city to undertake, such as art wraps to cover downtown's aesthetically challenged signal boxes.
The city is working with artists on two murals on public buildings downtown.
The nonprofit is also focusing on murals, working with Sam Welty, the artist behind Cedar Grove Cemetery's mural of the Battle of Craney Island. Supporters have identified about eight private buildings that would provide a good canvas.
"Everybody is working collaboratively for this overall vision of betterment of their community," Perry said.
Joyce said the organization will be seeking city approval for a mural on the side of a commercial building that can be seen from the atrium of the Children's Museum.
It isn't the first time Joyce has pitched the idea of putting art closer to the people: He was on the Museum and Fine Arts Commission when members were brainstorming ways to get more people into the city's arts center.
The center is housed in the 1846 Courthouse, a building with plenty of architectural dignity but one that didn't shout "there's art in here now."
Joyce suggested bringing the art outside to the people. The idea sparked the sculpture competition that has continued to transform the courtyard of the Portsmouth Art and Cultural Center into an outdoor exhibit several months of the year. That brought lots of public art to that corner of downtown.
And, eventually, it brought the toad.
And then public art took a leap in Portsmouth.
Janie Bryant, 757-446-2453,
This article is reprinted by permission from the Virginian-Pilot.

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Olde Towne Antiques to Flea Market- Great Finds of All Kinds

The popular "Antiques to Flea Market’ is held the first Saturday of each month, in historic Olde Towne Portsmouth, Virginia. Browse through an eclectic collection of unique and antique wares. With over 60 dealers and vendors exhibiting, bargain hunters and serious collectors will discover a great selection of antique and estate furniture, architectural antiques, china, silverware, art and prints, sporting gear, musical instruments, books and ephemera. There are even hand-made crafts and toys, as well as decorative accessories and flea market items of all types and one-of-a-kind items priced to sell. Held inside the Middle Street garage located on the corner of Middle and London. 

The Olde Towne Antiques to Flea Market is held the first Saturday
of each month in Portsmouth, Virginia.
The Olde Towne Antiques to Flea Market opens at 10am til 2 pm. Come early for best selections! or call 757-339-1876. Sponsored by the Olde Towne Business Association.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Little Shoppes On High Opens in Olde Towne Portsmouth

Little Shoppes on High is located at 425 High Street in Olde Towne Portsmouth, VA.


Welcome to Little Shoppes On High. A fun place to shop because there is something for everyone, and something for the one who has everything.  You will find products that are eco-friendly, funky, traditional and gorgeous.  Little Shoppes On High is an eclectic mix of old and new.  It will become a destination which you will want to return to again and again!

You'll find products that are eco-friendly, funky,
traditional and gorgeous at Little Shoppes on High.

Little Shoppes on High Products

Quirky, Cool and Eco Friendly Products
A funky mix of old and new, vintage and edgy with an eco friendly twist. Nettie Fischer, Proprietor of Little Shoppes on High.

"Retirement did not feel right for Nettie Fischer, Proprietor of Little Shoppes on High.  After many years in the business world and teaching, she felt the desire to open her own fun shop that would become a destination.  She searched for similar minded people who wanted to create their own business in an innovative collaborative way.  Thus, Little Shoppes on High was born."

Glitz By Fritz
Glitz by Fritz offers jewelry and accessories made from recycled materials such as bubble wrap, bicycle inner tubes, vintage buttons, Fair Trade African Paper Beads from Outreach Uganda (www. and even those old school 51/4” floppy disks. Traditional handmade jewelry is also available in a variety of styles.  Artist Audrey Frizzell Lassiter (Fritz).

"Audrey Frizzell Lassiter (Fritz) is a retired teacher who studied jewelry making and soon realized what started as a hobby quickly took over the dining room and spread into the kitchen. Now she has combined her recycling obsession with her jewelry design to create “re” fined jewelry that combine sterling silver with materials destined for the landfill."

Unique jewelry and accessories.

Collectibles from yesteryear to toys that will bring back memories.

Mr. Vintage and Collectibles
From collectibles from yesteryear to toys that will bring back memories, items with historic significance, Bronze, Silver and Golden age comics, to sports cards Spanning 6 decades, Robert has an eclectic mix of personal treasures that he is ready to share. Vendor- Robert M. Ellis.

"Robert M. Ellis has been a fixture in the Portsmouth area for many years behind the scenes.  He has worked at Brutti's for the past 20 years and before that owned High's Ice Cream Parlor on High Street. He is a graduate from Portsmouth Catholic High School."

Caroline Leslie
Caroline Leslie, owned by Jo Perakes, will be carrying boutique baby and children's clothing by Swing Set Designs. Caroline Leslie will also feature Caspari greeting cards, candles and paper products along with Twin Muses greeting cards. Special orders on Caspari paper products are available. Vendor- Jo Perakes.

 "I had the opportunity to move back to the area 17 years ago.  I am a native of Norfolk and choose Olde Towne for its sense  of community and history. My career was in Sales and Marketing, and I traveled extensively through the United States and Europe. During my travels, I shopped in Boutiques that carried local artisan, unique and quality items. Swing Set Designs (owned by my sister-in-law) features one of a kind Baby, Toddler & Children's Clothing. Caspari cards and paper products are globally known for the quality of their design and printing . Caspari is now a Virginia based company with its distribution center in Suffolk, Va.  Twin Muses is an Eco Friendly greeting card line started on Dinwiddie St, here in Olde Towne . I welcome your feedback and will continue to search for quality and unique items for Caroline Leslie."

 Boutique baby and children's clothing by Swing Set Designs.

Hand-painted glass and home decor items from the Painted Lady.

The Painted Lady
Hand-painted glass and home decor items. Artist Jane Puryear.

Small Pleasures
Great antique, collectible glass, vintage embroidered samplers and great accessories. Vendor-Donna Finch .

objets d'art
Paintings and ceramics. Pin-up prints. Artist Betty Cornwell- Estrada.

Colorful quilts at  Little Shoppes on High.

Little shoppes on High in Olde Towne Portsmouth, VA.

The Little Shoppes On High business hours:
Tuesday- Saturday  11Am to 7PM
Sunday 12 PM to 5PM  Closed on Mondays

(757) 393 - 1988

Nettie Fischer (local products and new vendor info) -
Audrey Lassiter (Glitz By Fritz) -
Robert, Jane, Jo, Betty, and Donna

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Olde Towne Portsmouth Virginia Holidays and Events Will Include the Bizarre, the Wacky and the Weird!

There's so much to celebrate here in Olde Towne Portsmouth, Virginia.

That's right! Olde Towne Portsmouth Virginia is celebrating bizarre and unique holidays as well as daily, weekly and monthly events observed throughout the year. Each day we plan to post and observe all of the holidays, special, bizarre and wacky days, and weird events too- just about any and everything that we can conger up. Why are you doing this you ask? That's because every day is a great day in Olde Towne and worth wouldn't want to be left out, would you? There is so many people to meet,  places to see, and things to do.

So let's celebrate because everyday is a great day to be in Olde Towne Portsmouth! Follow our daily postings on our Facebook page by following this link- Olde Towne Portsmouth Shopping & Dining