Barclay Sheaks Featured in New Book About History of Hilton Village
Barclay Sheaks (1928-2010), renowned painter and founder of the Art Department at Virginia Wesleyan, is featured in a new book about the history of Hilton Village neighborhood in Newport News, Virginia. The book by John Quarstein is titled Hilton Village: America’s First Public Planned Community (American History Press, 2017) and chronicles the neighborhood from its establishment as a home for shipyard workers after World War I to the present. “A newcomer to Hilton Village in 1949 was the critically acclaimed landscape artist Barclay Sheaks,” Quarstein writes. “Sheaks began his career as a teacher at Warwick High School in 1949, and moved into his home at the intersection of Hopkins Street and River Road in Hilton. He continued teaching at Warwick until 1967 when he was asked to start the art department at Virginia Wesleyan College (now University) where he remained, lecturing and teaching until he retired in 2005.” Quarstein goes on to quote several of Sheaks’ students including Sydney Jenkins, who studied art with Sheaks at Virginia Wesleyan and is now director of New Jersey’s Ramapo College Art Gallery: “He was a very important father figure for me—and I learned a lot by watching his miraculous demonstrations. He had a real gift for introducing people to art…He could lead people who wouldn’t otherwise be interested in ways not many others can. I still hear his voice when I think about the teachers I’ve had.” The Barclay Sheaks Gallery at Virginia Wesleyan, located in Godwin Hall, was established in Sheaks’ name in 1999 and features a rotating exhibit of his works. Sheaks is best known for his acrylic paintings of waterfront scenes, wetlands, farmlands and people of the Chesapeake Bay.