The Blue Raccoon

Thursday, September 03, 2009

The Girls Are Back --
Is There Going To Be Trouble?

Yes, billion-eyed audience, here they are again. Many of you long-time listeners already know the story. But, for those of you who 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.

Richmond's First Fridays Aftwalk begins its new season in earnest tomorrow evening. You can see it all in colour here. Here at the Blue Raccoon, these young women are emblematic of the social verve and creative energy -- a Dyonisian jumbalaya, well, not in the radical True Blood way -- that First Friday Richmond represents in ye olde Richmond Towne.

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.

But is the representation of enjoyment that seems to unnerve some people. Or at least, after eight years, suddenly the civil administration here gives the appearance, anyway, of being shocked, shocked! to see art galleries on Broad Street, and droves of people trooping in and out of them. This, too, is reflected by the haranguing of corner preachers on milk crates with PA systems who are persuaded that wine and cheese are the gateway drugs to hell.

The fear and anxiety was portrayed in the current issue of the city's weekly tab.

As often happens, the comment train following the article is more illuminating - and for bad reasons -- than the article. Like a particularly bad morning on C-SPAN, the snipes and quips aren't so much directed at the issues raised but bent on grinding particular axes or slapping around artists, whom even in 2009 in Richmond are viewed with suspicion as potential subversives and condemned as useless drains. Never mind that without the arts schools and institutions devoted to them here that Richmond would just be another whistle stop on the way to Atlanta. I'm beyond fed up with people who a) Don't read articles all the way through and b) Comment with knee-jerk responses to a headline, picture or captions. This is why we as a civilization in decline: lack both attention and discipline. So there, corner preacher, stick that up your righteous indignation.

And so there are belligerent, bullet-headed nihilist hipsters who'll profusely and obscenely decry Richmond as some kind of portal to, I don't know, boredom or hell or hellish boredom but that's because they insist on wanting Richmond to be New York or L.A., or any other place that it is not. Let Richmond be Richmond, and if you're not willing to roll up your sleeves, expose your baroquely tatted forearms and do something constructive, then why are you here anyway? In a way, these types are just as annoying as that street corner preacher who is just there because he likes to hear himself preach or the suburbanites who, from the safe distance of the cul-de-sac, toss their grenades of ignorance and fear. And their shrapnel unfortunately sticks in all of us.

Which gets me to the presence of uniformed officialdom that was meandering among the galleries during August's First Friday, with their clipboards, clickable pens and curious expressions. I understand the need to monitor safety regulations for buildings, without question.

However, there is a way to do things. Can we not go to the spaces and look at them before they are packed with people to see about proper egress and lighted exits and such? You do want to see them under the times of most stress, too -- and that doesn't make city officials bad guys, but, there should be a better, less invasive way.

So. I guess we'll see.

Some of the highlights I intend to hit:

Little Creatures, a 1708 Gallery satellite exhibit at the historic Linden Row Inn and curated by my personal Grand Louvre, Amie Oliver. The show features sculpture, painting, drawing and photography inspired by animals and the natural world.

For more information on the artists please visit the links below:

Joan Gaustad:

Leah Jacobson:

Rob McAdams:

Jamie Pocklington:

Gordon Stettinius:

Rob Tarbell:

Paul Teeples:

Another show I've quite desirous of seeing is Thomas van Auken's exhibition, sponsored by Art 180, at the Schindler Satellite Gallery at 8 W. Broad.

I snagged this image from van Auken's Facebook. I enjoy his confident lines and Germanic textures. Figurative work has had its ups and downs in terms of general acceptance these days. VCU tends toward the Abstract-Expressionsits, and around the country, drawing itself isn't considered as important.

So it's great to see somebody who somehow not only learned to draw but paints, too, and the overall effects are pleasing and even sometimes a bit startling.

I'll be buzzing into Ghostprint, Gallery5, and Metro Space Gallery, too.

I'll see you on Broad or nearby, on Friday.

We shall return to Phil Gotz's tour of Richmond during the weekend.

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