The Blue Raccoon

Friday, March 06, 2009

First Friday In Ragtime: Get your lecture on

Yikes. I've realized that I've not posted in this space since the February First Friday when, due to weather, The Girls would've wanted a warm wrap. Not so much tonight, though a sweater would be appropriate, though in the crowded Broad and Main street venues, even that could get a little warm.

For those you not regular members of the billion-eyed audience: this image was taken, and not by yours truly, 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 lovely Richmond lasses 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. If you are a bank executive receiving a federal bail out, for example, you may be the smiling woman. If you worked for Circuit City or Quimonda, or almost anybody else in the U.S. just now, you may instead resemble the woman on the left.

I'm the lady on the right. Well, not physically (though, imagine that...), but psychically. Because tonight and tonight only I'm giving a talk, "Reading, Writing And Richmond In Ragtime" concerning the authorial aspects within my Richmond In Ragtime: Socialists, Suffragists, Sex and Murder.

It's a tossup, I know. Good weather following an early week veering into snow and ice and actual winter. Now, 60s, a jumping downtown street to take in, all that art, all those people. Well. Come on in and get your lecture on; it'll be if not edifying then entertaining. Well. I hope.

Afterward, you should go to Quirk Gallery to see work by Susann Whittier, Ed Trask and Susanne Arnold.

The mechanical, sculptural elements of Whittier's work has phased into elements of textiles -- including the arms and legs of all those drawn models on the packages of McCall's and Butterick pattern books; there's a flowing array of hands, and bird-like cuffs, and collars with ties. This is wonderful work that looks like one thing yet converses with something else, as befits a show titled "Ever Expanding."

Ed Trask's vivid paintings -- I just love them at de luxe -- and like listening to Mahler, is best when viewed loud and large. These are smaller, intimate pieces though -- check out the birds -- but convey his sense of the rust, dust and sin, the nostalgic deterioration of highway and roadside culture in the South, of rusted metal and wind howling through busted windows, or across a damp field at night.

I need to get back into the Vault to see Arnold's boats. Maybe tonight.

Anyway, hope to see you on corner. I'll have books. You can buy them.


About 40 people came to the underground lair known as the Rare Book Room of the Richmond Public Library where I regaled the assembled about "Reading, Writing and Richmond in Ragtime" using the works and words of James Branch Cabell, Ellen Glasgow, Mary Johnston, John Mitchell Jr. and, naturally, Adon Allen Yoder. Received enthusiastic applause and sold some books -- and ran into my old Richmond Out of Stock repertory comedy colleague Jonathan Orcutt and his wife and daughter.

I went back to Quirk to see Susanne Arnold's ceramic boats and was captivated by the concept of Charon ferrying the dead across the Styx to the Underworld. Arnold supposes, though, that individuals of differing personalities and culture get their own version of the ride and ferryman.

Went into 1708 and thought I'd instead wandered into ada. "Rain or Shine" features Kate Bingaman Burt, Sarah Hollis, Ryan Mulligan and Stacy Searcy and I felt like I was in a big multi-partner studio cleaned up to receive guests. It's a vigorous, energetic show, and requries plenty of time to read and take in the multi-page and images of journal-like pieces. It's all about the raw discipline required to go into a studio and make art every day -- whether it's any good is up to the observer to decide. I need to go back when there's fewer people in the gallery and a list of places to go.

A pleasant surprise of the evening was
Brooke Olivares at Ghostprint, and her "One Block Over." These figurative representative pieces using old school techniques really impressed me. Olivares is a young San Diego painter and though we're looking at contemporary mean streets the work is striking.

Amie and I took the Orcutts over to the exhibit at Linden Row, "Inaugural: History In The Making."
The exhibition presents 36 pieces by encaustic artist Susanne Arnold, figurative yet abstract painter Ruth Bolduan, big and wide abstract painter Bill Fisher, renown jewelry-maker and sculptor Thomas Mann, painter Amie Oliver, mysterious and compelling figurartive drawings of Eleanor Rufty, the antic and curious mixed media pieces of Bruce Wilhelm, pinhole photography Willie Anne Wright and "house" painter Louise Poole. All of these will soon be joined by several globes created for the "Save Planet Art" auction show at 1708.

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