We are so excited that the Cabell Gallery was recently included in Virginia Living Magazine by Deveron Tiberlake for the month of April. 

The details are telling—early edition Dickens by the bed at an inn, steaming risotto served in local earthenware bowls at a café, a bit of jazz floating on the sidewalk on Main Street. If Lexington would like to position itself as a thinking person’s destination, it’s making some notable inroads.

This was once a hamlet, then a town, now a city, in a county that’s one-third national forest. One broad, crenelated skyline holds posts and flagpoles; another looking south brims with trees and steeples. Farmers and artists mingle with professors from Washington and Lee University and the Virginia Military Institute, where top-tier students yield a long legacy of achievement. For the most part, Lexington thinks well of itself and, in its own gentle way, gets the visitor to agree.

It starts with the speaking tradition, a long honored expectation that students and adults will make eye contact—that people will speak and likely know who they’re addressing. It is the ethos of acknowledgement, “a sense that we’re all related somehow,” as one resident puts it. Thus, rights are mostly respected, but secrets are hard to keep, setting up a polite tension of informed opinions.

There is civility and precision and critical thinking, and no lack of ambition. A list of Lexington’s achievers includes a world-renowned photographer, one of the 20th century’s most celebrated artists, a pair of professors turned brewers, and the champion for a newly-resurrected beloved local music venue.

The cerebral and sensory stimuli around town are weighty: rare firearms in the VMI Museum, the kitchen garden of Stonewall Jackson, summer concerts in a quarry, a bookshop exploding with material for all manner of study. There’s something beneath the surface here, an internal geology that rewards effort, but prefers humility. A good time can be had, and will likely resonate well beyond the staying.

This is our guide to the people and places of a changing Lexington, where new finesse meshes with longstanding traditions of hospitality.

Optimists, Entrepreneurs & Makers

Lexington “is like living in the middle of a landscape painting,” says plein air artist Jean Marie Tremmel. She paints outdoors in all seasons, finding new fields and foothills to capture with groups or alone. Tremmel and her husband, sculptor T.J. Tremmel, formed WareHouse in the fledgling Industrial & Arts District downtown, where they’ve converted an old building into multi-generational housing and art studios. An adjacent gallery shows their pieces in clay, walnut, soapstone and oil. A Mother’s Day studio tour is always well attended.

Cabell Gorman opened an art gallery downtown in September, joining nine others showing local and outside artists to a growing audience. “My job is to bring joy to people’s lives through art,” Gorman says, and she has turned an old hair salon into a sparkling storefront, Cabell Gallery, that’s part of the First Fridays art openings.

Native son and esteemed painter Cy Twombly, the only 20th-century artist with a permanent installation in the Louvre, who died in Rome in 2011, remains among the city’s most prominent cultural figures. Photographer Sally Mann continues to dazzle the art world with her lyrical images and narrative writings from a farm near town, where locals still recall her physician father, and where her husband is city attorney.

Beyond art, the Virginia Horse Center “is one of my favorite things,” Cabell Gorman says of the sprawling facility nearby. “People who aren’t familiar with Lexington may not know about it, but you can go to the rodeo, or a hunter-jumper show or a mustang rally—just really interesting things that people might not know are happening in our state. There’s a different sense of life and activity and involvement, and you can’t miss that.”