The Blue Raccoon

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The First First Friday of the New Era
But the same ole picture

Yes, billion-eyed audience, here they are again. Many of you long-time listeners already know the story. But, for those you don't: this image was taken, and not by me, at an exhibition opening several years ago at the vanished Three Miles Gallery and this space, and the adjacent one, is today the bustling Tarrant's Café.

This pair of Richmond lovelies display the classic duality of Greek tragedy/comedy, and the predicament of existence, and how in general conditions are one or the other -- depending who you are and where your viewing booth is.

They also represent for the Blue Raccoon the energy and verve of the First Friday High Art Hike here in Richmond, Va; otherwise known as First Fridays: On and Off Broad, and brought to you by Curated Culture, which is detailed IN COLOR here.

We're going to hit Main Street, first. There are several shows to see opening:

Tanja Softic' and Holly Morrison at the Page Bond Gallery. (Image of Softic' at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, via her site.) Softic's printed and drawn work makes me think of somehow a sensitive instrument could record a sense memory flitting about in the synapses
of the brain not as an electrical charge but as the shape of the thing or the sensation.

I'm not familiar with Morrison's photographic work, but I look forward to experiencing it; the two seem well matched.

Louis Poole at Main Art. Poole's genre is architecture, in particular, houses. But he's not just a painter of houses. The lines and angles, shadows and shapes of the structure become constructs themselves and become abstractions while retaining their integrity as built objects. So you can see them both as metaphor and actual object at the same time.

• Ghostprint Gallery, Chuck Scalin, "Paris: Fragments of Urban Reality." Who doesn't like Paris? Everybody likes Paris. Scalin loves it to pieces; in fact, he's photographed bits and parts, at odd angles and in surprising ways, to recontextualize (yes, I used that word) the cityscape's inherent visual abstraction that our eyes and brains process and make sense of.

Art 6, Myron Helfgott, "What Women Have Told Me." During his long career Helfgott reached into painting and sculpture and busted them up, then re-arranged the shards and rubble like cinematic tableaux, or converted them into chunks of separate experience. His pieces can babble, move, and often amuse.

Art historian Howard Risatti refers to Helfgott's sense of "suspended narration" and that is quite clear in his arrangement of large photographic, almost three dimensional portraits, stapled to the backs of cafe chairs grouped tightly in a small room while their varied voices spout aphorisms and witticisms by other people. It's a bit like attending a party in the small confines of an academic's apartment, and their conversations reduced to the great thoughts of others. The title is appropriate "The Feel of the Thing, Not the Think of It."

When you go, choose a time when the place isn't too crowded so you can listen to the various soundtracks that go with the various assemblages of objects and images. Probably First Friday isn't the best time to hear the work. But if that's your time that you've allocated to go experience art in Richmond, you should at least go see how Helfgott has organized the installations.

And you can smirk at the dervish-twirling smiling Buddha, and, if you can listen, the sexual and social politics getting played out. A cameo role is filled out by playwright Arthur Miller.

ada Gallery: Bruce Wilhelm and Motomichi Nakamura. (Below, Wilhelm's "Tangle," 32"x 39" acrylic on paper). Wilhelm, a former Richmonder, will present works on paper and paintings while Brooklyn-residing Nakamura will have animations and drawings, too. ada is a little schizo right now, being in two places at once, with a new space to open soon, 1829 W. Main St.

If you've not had the opportunity yet to drop into 1708 to get a gander at "Media X" you should as it is about our perilous and precipitous times -- and was installed on the eve of the elections.

The tele-centric Everyone We Know News Network installation, which is updated almost every day, should be even more interesting as the personal reflects the global and political.

So the weather is supposed to be fine, and there will be ample time to socialize (and be socialists, too), so go and engage yourself.

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