By Joe Wetzel and Keith Thurston
Barb Cram was a dynamic force and an essential part of so many countless organizations in the City of Falls Church: Watch Night, CATCH Foundation, and so many other charitable efforts that operate for the good of all. She didn’t even need to have a seat at the table to make the table shake.
Barb being a part of any effort ensured good humor, great cheer, abundant energy, and an empathy and caring that was palpable. Falls Church Arts was lucky. We caught her attention at an unusual time, when she had rotated out of her cherished business, Greenspace’s storefront operation — Beyond the Garden Gate — and her focus was available to be redirected.
From her first moments with us in our space inside of Falls Church Arts and Frame, she stuck with us, as Falls Church Arts began its transition to the collaborative ArtsSpace partnership with Creative Cauldron.
And oh, was her endless energy needed then: there were infinite details, large and small, to be decided and executed.
From the obvious (“We need LIGHTS to see the art!”) to the details of working with a marvelous theater partner whose requirements and schedule had to be respected and incorporated into our plans.
And it was Barb who oversaw our move to dedicated gallery space on the ground floor of the Kensington, attending again to all the details involved in outfitting the space itself as well as beginning a remarkable working relationship with our Landlord and working ‘partner,’ The Kensington.
In each of these moves Barb saw to it that needs, both physically and emotionally, were met and exceeded.
It was Barb who finessed the concepts of our ever-changing themed exhibits that were designed to be inclusive of so many different mediums, artists and efforts.
It was Barb who made sure that each exhibition opening was not just an event, but rather an event that was a fun place to be.
Still, she made time for more: Barb was entirely responsible for the efforts to bring competitive Plein-Air Painting (the French expression meaning “in the open air” referencing the practice of painting a landscape outdoors, just as the artist sees it.) to Falls Church.
If you see a painter at an easel painting a scene of Falls Church, think of Barb Cram. With Barb’s pushing, instructional and informative classes were brought to full light and strength. It was she who solicited artist instructors and made sure that their classes were not only attended but appreciated.
Under Barb’s hands, Falls Church Arts applied for and received the first of its grants from public institutions, bringing the organization up to the level of other established arts organizations.
When a small band of us first formed Falls Church Arts we made our stated mission “to ensure that the arts are an essential part of the cultural environment in the City of Falls Church.” Barb joined us, took that to heart, and made sure the Art became essential in Falls Church.
But these achievements are just marks in the path of Barb’s journey.
Yes, she left clear footprints in that path but, more importantly, she left deep and profound impressions in the hearts of those she touched along the way.
She cared. And she never hesitated to let you feel that. And you knew that the caring she showed you was unique to the bond between Barb and you.
What she knew is that there was no reason she could not call you a friend. When she laughed, it was never at anyone’s expense, but always to mark a shared joy.
This unbridled love of that joy in a shared personal relationship is what kept making things possible at Falls Church Arts. No one said ‘No’ to Barb Cram, and in that, no one said ‘No’ to Falls Church Arts.
We have lost an irreplaceable treasure. Since she became a part of Falls Church Arts years ago, Barb made it her mission to become our champion, our strongest advocate, and in those efforts became our dearest friend.
Her success is measured both in Falls Church Arts’ standing today and, more importantly, in the friends she made and people she inspired along that journey.
Of course, Falls Church Arts as an organization will miss her.
But we — each of us who knew her, loved her, and keep treasured memories of her in our hearts — will miss her far beyond mere words or measures of achievements.
Barb is with us in our hearts forever.