Roanoke artist and Open Studios of Roanoke organizer Mary Boxley Bullington sent me a moving message in response to today’s news story about the life of the late Peter Wreden. “He was a fine soul, an artist to the bone!” she wrote. In her letter, she informed me that the next Open Studios tour will be dedicated to Wreden’s memory.
Artist Peter Wreden, a central figure in the Roanoke Valley’s art scene for half a century, died Saturday while hanging work for his next studio show. He was 84.
“Art is awareness,” he told The Roanoke Times in 1996. “It takes us out of the stupor of everyday life.”
Best known for the jewelry he handcrafted in his studio on King George Avenue in South Roanoke, Wreden’s output ranged from traditional portraits and landscapes to computer graphics.
“He was a very talented person and his work was beautiful,” said Salem artist Harriet Stokes . “He could do any type of art.”
As a teacher at the Roanoke Fine Arts Center — before it became the Art Museum of Western Virginia, then the Taubman Museum of Art — Wreden helped many younger artists pursue their own dreams.
“He was just a very kind, encouraging and supportive individual known and loved by so many in the valley and far beyond,” said Roanoke sculptor Betty Branch . “He was a very strong influence in creating good will and community spirit among the artists in town.”