Photo courtesy of Krissy Anderson
Lately, I’ve been on a mad hunt for evidence to substantiate what I’ve long believed to be true: That Virginia Beach is a magical place—a virtual hotbed of creative energy and happiness. That once people move here, they magically and inexplicably unleash surges of previously unrealized talent and creativity. Some paint, others write gorgeous poetry and delve into photography or any number of creative arts. Local musicians are happily churning out some of the best songwriting and instrumentation anywhere. Case in point: I simply cannot get the song from a locally-produced and filmed music video out of my head. It’s called “Chillin’ in the Summer” by Tina Micula. Go ahead, I dare you to listen, but be warned: you will be humming it from now until summer! Whether you’re into jazz, folk, rock, or classical to name a few genres, chances are you’ll be in good company at the oceanfront.
Nathaniel takes 1st place in music creativity contest - Photo by Sherry Friel
Scouts in awe of the ocean at Back Bay Wildlife Refuge by Sherry Friel
My search for proof of this theory on local creativity took me to a variety of happiness studies and “best city” lists. Yes, Virginia Beach makes quite a few appearances on such lists, but this somehow wasn’t telling the whole story. Digging a little deeper, I discovered renowned psychic Edgar Cayce was drawn to this area, further confirming my suspicions that there must be something magical about my home. The Association for Research and EnlightenmentCayce formed in the 1930s is still located on 67thstreet at the oceanfront and I’ve decided that I should revisit this fascinating destination soon.
I eventually decided to stop looking for such studies as proof and simply ask some of the most creative women I know what they thought. My questioning was essentially along these lines: What is it about Virginia Beach that continues to inspire you from a creative standpoint? Why do you love living here?
Fall Colors by Beth Kulas
Local nature photographer Beth Kulas moved to Virginia Beach from Boston, Massachusetts approximately nine years ago. Her life-long love of the beach only intensified when she moved closer to the shore. “The beach here is lovely and draws you in, but it is only the tip of the iceberg. The variety of natural settings in Virginia Beach is exquisite. I love walking around the neighborhoods, the garden stores, and of course the parks. I live near First Landing State Park and have explored False Cape State Park a little bit. There is always something new to look at and photographing these places makes you stop and appreciate them, it helps you slow down and really look at the world around you. There is definitely a great energy here that has tapped a long dormant passion for photography and has inspired creativity I didn’t know I had.”
Beth has amassed an extensive library of local nature photography. The following links show a sampling of her amazing work: Bayville Farms, Busy Bees, Spring/Summer 2011 Flowers, A Few Fall Photos.
My friend and neighbor Krissy Anderson also relocated to Virginia Beach from Chatham, New Jersey 22 years ago and continues to develop a variety of artistic pursuits ranging from music and acting to photography and interior architectural design. She writes, “the first thing I noticed when I moved here, other than the mild climate, was the amount of parks and beautiful beaches there were, and how much there was to do. I remember thinking, there is something for everyone and inspiration is all around for the taking, if you want it. I think the first time I attended the Boardwalk Art Show and saw dolphins jumping in the water just off the shore, I knew what a unique area this was.”
As for me, my love of this area truly took flight 18 years ago. I grew up locally, but moved away after college only to return for graduate school and meet my husband, Skip. I credit an internship with the City of Virginia Beach for giving me an intimate and up-close study of the area’s most beautiful natural destinations. I cherish this early experience that has recently developed into a new passion: photography. I spend a great deal of time exploring and photographing stunning scenery throughout the city. When I’m not behind the camera, I’m trying to learn all I can about photography and Photoshop in particular. The studio school at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Artis an excellent place to explore interests in photography, drawing, painting, printmaking, ceramics, fine crafts and more. After finishing my seventh week of Photoshop training, I cannot wait to put what I’ve learned into action!
Editor’s note: To enjoy more of Sherry’s photography work, click here.