Manassas Art Guild: Connecting Community to Art

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on a high note 0320, Jirani mural

This mural, located in Jirani Coffeehouse, was painted by several Manassas Art Guild members (photo provided by Manassas Art Guild)

By Erin Pittman

Since 1970, the Manassas Art Guild has been spreading the beauty of art throughout the community. This 501(c)3 organization began with the goal of helping local artists become known for their talents and creations and promoting a diversity of the arts in Manassas and Northern Virginia.

Currently, the guild has about 25 members of all ages who continue to work with the same mission of integrating art into the community by “educating, exhibiting and providing arts events to connect with the Manassas community.”

Art Guild Meetings and Activities

Members gather monthly, with the exception of the summer months.

“Sometimes at our meetings there are demonstration artists or members may paint together. We may talk about local art events, provide critiques or share our art with each other,” said Laura Lavarnway, President of the Manassas Art Guild.

Throughout the year, members hold a workshop or two. These events run one or two days on a weekend and involve experimenting with different media, but typically some type of painting or drawing.

“Martin Cervantz and Jill Brabant did a palette knife workshop one year, teaching strictly how to paint with a palette knife, which was very interesting,” said Lavarnway.

Last October, members participated in the Manassas Fall Festival. Lavarnway, Josi Tullo, Stephanie McGee and Peter Smolens all had work on display. Members are currently displaying their work at Manassas City Hall and Aquatel Realty on Church Street in ongoing shows at both locations.

In the summer of 2019, the owner of Jirani Coffeehouse asked members to create a mural in the coffee shop.

“It was a vision of Ken’s, the owner, as to what his coffee shop represents,” said Lavarnway. “He represents the arts, too, and does open mic nights, encouraging people to share. He also has a gallery there.”

McGee created the original mural and led members Lavarnway, Smolens, John Hart, Marti Whitehead and Maureen Guillot to create the exquisite painting depicting a cup of coffee held up and surrounded by various representations of the arts.

When asked about her favorite part of being a member and leading the art guild, Lavarnway replied, “It’s meeting other artists, socializing with them and seeing what other people are doing in the art world.”

Current members span a variety of media including paper quilling, watercolor, oil painting, digital art and more. And while members are serious artists working to move along in their art, they are also a social bunch. The group members hold holiday dinners and keep in touch outside of meetings, as well.

For more information about the Manassas Art Guild, their activities or becoming a member, visit

Erin Pittman has been a writer for 10 years, but a lover of words her entire life. Her work is published in local magazines and on local and national blogs. Contact Erin at


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