West Virginia South April - May 2019 - Page 48

Theirs is a dance so well rehearsed, it needs no music. This is the dance of a fish, complete with a tail, dorsal fin, scales, perfectly proportioned eyes, and — somehow — a bit of personality. It seems almost as it it wants to bite them when they break its connection from the metal rod and concentrate heat to smooth its new mouth. Then, as if grateful to be free, the little fish rests, cooling at 920 degrees Fahrenheit for the rest of the day. It will sit in the oven overnight as it slowly cools to room temperature. Another day later, it will be released into the wild of Virtu Gal- lery, a good catch waiting for a shopper with a keen eye for hand blown glass or a soft spot for colorful decorative fish. Sometimes, the artists’ audience is a curious handful of guests, who take in the performance from comfortable repur- posed church pews — far enough from flame to prevent any danger, yet close enough and raised enough to see every- thing. Often, the audience is only Jenny. “She won the lottery,” Brand jokes about the friendly dog who moved from animal shelter to The Greenbrier when he and his wife adopted her a year ago. Today, she mingles with guests, especially chil- dren, walking the grounds between Virtu Studio and its gallery just up a grassy hill, at the end of The Greenbrier’s Art Colony Shops in the historic Alabama Row Cot- tages overlooking the Springhouse. These shops feature skilled artisans working with metals, leather, brass, wood, glass and pottery. Of course, guests could take complimentary transportation there from the hotel, but walkers are more likely to receive a personal impromptu escort from Jenny. The dog may spend her days sitting in the lap of luxury, but a trip to Virtu studio proves it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to succeed at a place known for making one. The hotel takes a percentage of sales, but the studio is independent. 48 ❖ SOUTH ❖ APRIL-MAY '19