Monday, June 21, 2010

Put on Your Arty Pants and Dance

I've recently heard some smack talked about the art scene in RVA. Usually this type of criticism doesn't bother me because I agree - our scene needs improving. We all have our own lens through which we view the world and art certainly falls under the same microscope. However, having visited cities all over Europe and the U.S., I find there to be a solid community of art lovers and makers here - thanks (in part) to VCU. The only way to develop the ability to discuss art is to get out there and see it. So yeah, get out there - find something that disgusts or excites you. It's all an experience. Also, the way to help create a bigger and better art scene (versus just complaining about the current one) is to be a patron - demand and supply.

Having lived here for almost three years, I now have a few venues that I visit pretty regularly. All of the venues listed below are free during regular gallery or shop hours.

1. 1708 Gallery will be hosting their third annual outdoor exhibit of light-inspired art in Shockoe Slip this October. With InLight, no surface or space is safe - all will be illuminated! The 1708 Gallery is a non-profit organization with exhibits rotating on a monthly basis, for the most part. Keep an eye on their events for panel discussions, book readings and exhibit opening/closing receptions and parties.

2. ADA Gallery's current exhibit, 7th Anniversary Show + Summer Garage Sale, runs through June 27 and includes an artist of which I'm especially fond - Paul Thulin.

3. Ahhhh the new VMFA expansion, how much press can one project get?! Regardless, you should definitely visit the new James W. and Frances G. McGlothlin Wing. Personally, I appreciate the architectural details almost as much as the art and I look forward to enjoying the Robins Sculpture Garden once it's complete. While living in Seattle, I fell in love with Ryan McGinness's work. So to see his commission featured in the new wing gave me the shivers. Good shivers - like, when you're surprised by something really, really awesome.

4. Ryan McLennan graduated from VCU in 2002 and has shown at the 1708 Gallery as well as several other Richmond venues. He, through Triple Stamp Press, just released a book of 20 prints called The Cost of Comfort which can be bought through the TSP site or at Chop Suey Books. If you want to see the man behind the art, visit Chop Suey on Saturday, July 10, from 4 to 8 pm, where he'll be promoting the new book.

Emily Smith

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