We came together eight years ago as a bunch of artists wanting to go to concerts paint all the time. There's a special comradery that is born out of spending weekend after weekend at festival after festival, painting after painting. We quickly realized that what we could create together was better than competing against each other. We would set up galleries under the same tents, sometimes as small as a 10x10 canopy, sometimes a circus tent that demanded two medium-sized elephants to erect the poles. We had as many triumphs as we did tragedies, and the ones who stuck around through adverse conditions, and even a tornado once, are the ones that make up the Pigment Sanctuary.
Ashton Hill was the first one to start spearheading live painting galleries for our crew, and Mountain Music Festival has been the Pigment Sanctuary family reunion since the start. It was in the summer of 2018 that Ashton, Lacey, and Billy started having conversations about formalizing The Pigment Sanctuary as a collective, but it wasn't until Lacey and Billy moved to Princeton, West Virginia in December of 2019 that they started pushing for a permanent headquarters. Because of this city's immense support of the arts and the area's lower cost of living, they knew it was the perfect place to plant our roots. There were a few different spaces they were looking at for our permanent gallery, and we chose a 1200 sqft space that at the time was coffee shop overflow and storage. Ashton and two other Pigment Sanctuary members moved to town shortly after we started renting the space, and it took just over half a year to build the gallery. We wanted our gallery to be as unique as our path as artists. We designed it to be a whimsical, deep forest scene, but also a comfortable space to relax, drink coffee, and take workshops.
As we refine the mission of the Pigment Sanctuary, art education has become an integral piece of what we do. Over the years we learned so much from each other, that we want to be able to share it. Ashton lead facilitating our first seminar in Virginia with Mischtechnik master, Phil Rubinov Jacobson. It was 3 weeks at the White Lotus Resort outside of Charlottesville, Virginia, and we're looking to continue to expand with more teachers coming in from around the country. This past winter we held an art retreat in the mountains of West Virginia, where it was not just traditional art workshops, but there were also flow workshops that focused on full-body movement, community involvement, and consent culture workshops.
We want to cultivate an artistic culture that is inclusive to all who want to be involved, and beyond that, we want to use art to create lasting change in the world around us, and we've come to understand that changing the world starts with inspiring and uplifting our communities and neighbors.