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Full Interview with the Chieftains Paddy Moloney

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Full Interview with the Chieftains Paddy Moloney

The three remaining Chieftains
The Chieftains have begun their "Irish Goodbye" tour, which is the last tour of the 57-year-long band. (Photo Credit: Chieftains)

To say that the Irish band The Chieftains are one of the longest running bands in musical history is an understatement. The folk band started some fifty-eight years ago this year. And in that vast career, they’ve expanded the genre of Irish music by partnering with a slew of musicians outside the bailiwick of that country’s musical output, including heavyweights such as Van Morrisson (though, yes, he could be lumped in the same category), Joni Mitchell, The Rolling Stones and Ry Cooder

Paddy Moloney in the early years

But they’ve also worked with lesser known musicians, such as the Carolina Chocolate Drops, The Decemberists, the Punch Brothers and even with the U.S. Astronaut  Cady Coleman, who was loaned one of Paddy Moloney’s tin whistles and played it on the International Space Station. 

In bending and expanding their earlier realm of Irish music, they stretched the bounds by working with Ry Cooder on a magnificent Spanish album called “San Patricio.” This, was the nearly forgotten story of the San Patricio battalion, “a downtrodden group of Irish immigrants who deserted the US Army to fight on the Mexican side in the Mexican/American War (1846-48),” it says on the liner notes. The album features guest appearances from Lila Downs, Linda Ronstadt, Carlos Nunez, Moya Brennan, and Lost Tigres Del Norte.

The Chieftains

The group has also traveled to Nashville, in which they recorded “Further Down the Old Plank Road.” This outing featured a line-up that included Chet Atkins, Linda Ronstadt (again), Roseanne Cash, John Prine and Emmylou Harris, just to name a few. 

In the interview, Moloney says he’s always learning more and wanting more when it comes to playing music. Dubbing this tour the "Irish Goodbye," which is a term that means you're sneaking out of a party without telling anyone to avoid any awkward so longs, is a clever way of (perhaps) capping off a long, historic career. Moloney says he still has several albums lined up that he wants to work on, which could allow for more shows. 

If you listen to the entire interview, you’ll hear a musician still captured by the magic of making music. You’ll hear how he started out as an accountant and how he used to play music for his family as a young boy. 

Paddy Moloney

To say that interviewing Paddy Moloney was a thrill of a lifetime or honor is just the tip of the iceberg. It was both those things and more. He was engaging to speak with. 

 

-Ian Stewart/World Music Show/VPM Music 

 

New Photography Exhibition Brings Attention to Richmond HIV/AIDS Epidemic

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New Photography Exhibition Brings Attention to Richmond HIV/AIDS Epidemic

man in front of photographs
Michael Simon is the photographer behind Voices from Richmond's Hidden Epidemic. (Photo: Alan Rodriguez Espinoza/VPM)

*This story was reported by VPM intern Alan Rodriguez Espinoza

A new exhibition at the Valentine Museum in Richmond showcases the portraits of 30 individuals who have been affected by the city’s HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Recent data by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that Richmond has the 21st highest rate of new HIV diagnoses and the 19th highest rate of people living with AIDS out of 2,300 localities in the country. 

Curators Laura Browder and Patricia Herrera spent three years collecting the portraits of HIV victims in Richmond for Voices from Richmond’s Hidden Epidemic. The exhibition also features photos of the victims’ loved ones, medical professionals, activists and others affected by the disease. 

According to Browder, a lot of the women she spoke to for this project say the stigma is often the worst part of living with HIV. Michael Simon, the photographer behind the portraits, says it is important to “shine a light into the dark corners” of this crisis in order to combat it.

“It helps dissolve a lot of the stigma,” Simon said. “I feel like the more we know about our neighbors and our family and our friends, the more we can relate to their stories.”

Browder says this crisis is also a sign of racial and gender inequality in the city.

“People in the general population have a one in 99 chance of getting HIV over the course of their lifetimes. Black men who have sex with men have a one in two chance. Black women have an almost 18-fold chance of getting HIV compared to white women,” Browder said.

She says over half of all new HIV diagnoses take place in southern states, making Richmond “ground zero for HIV.” Browder says Richmond’s history of racial and economic inequality has resulted in low-income communities facing the brunt of this epidemic.

“If you're middle class and you have HIV, that becomes your number one priority, making sure you take that pill every day,” she said. “But if you are struggling with homelessness, if your employment status is very tenuous, if you don't have transportation then it's very easy for your HIV status to fall to your fifth priority or below.”

Voices from Richmond’s Hidden Epidemic includes excerpts from interviews with the portraits’ subjects. Browder says The Valentine will house transcripts of the full interviews of the subjects photographed in the museum’s archives in an effort to preserve a rich oral history of the city’s HIV-affected community.

The Valentine worked closely with VCU Health, Diversity Richmond, Health Brigade and St. Paul’s Baptist Church to put together the exhibition, which will be on display at the Valentine through May 25, 2020.

ICA Exhibit Explores Trauma of Migration and Illness Through Sculpture and Sound

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ICA Exhibit Explores Trauma of Migration and Illness Through Sculpture and Sound

Man in a blue robe plays gong
Maravilla, a professor in VCU's sculpture department, credits vibration therapy with helping him manage pain and trauma. (Photo: Institute for Contemporary Art)
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Woman stands with back to camera in blue robe
(Photo: Institute for Contemporary Art)
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Woman lifts mallets in front of gong
(Photo: Institute for Contemporary Art)
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*VPM intern Alan Rodriguez Espinoza reported this story

The latest installment in the Institute for Contemporary Art’s Provocations series, Disease Thrower, explores the connection between illness and traumas of migration. Artist Guadalupe Maravilla uses sculpture, drawing and performance to “repel anxieties, depression or any physical illness.” 

Maravilla migrated to the United States from El Salvador in 1984 as part of the first-wave of undocumented children escaping the country’s civil war. He was only 8-years-old.

“The war separated me from my from my parents and my sister. And through the help of coyotes, I was able to cross the border. I was undocumented, unaccompanied,” Maravilla said.

Maravilla studied fine arts in New York City and became a US citizen at 27. He now teaches in the Virginia Commonwealth University sculpture department. 

Seven years ago, he was diagnosed with colon cancer. He underwent over 50 sessions of chemotherapy and two surgeries, which he says brought so much pain that he could no longer walk.

Maravilla turned to shamans and healers in the Americas, China and Korea and found relief for his pain in vibrational therapy, also known as sound baths.

“I realized that my trauma of being undocumented, being this child that was left alone… I developed this trauma that I held in my gut and it eventually manifested into a cancerous tumor,” he said.

Maravilla has used his Disease Thrower sculptures in the past to perform sound baths for the vulnerable communities of cities like Miami and New York City. Now in Richmond, he hopes to help others find healing through his installation.

Four sculptures in a large room
Disease Thrower is being exhibited at the Institute for Contemporary Arts. (Photo by Alan Rodriguez Espinoza/VPM)

Disease Thrower consists of four totem-like sculptures, each of them holding a gong at the center, as well as other objects that Maravilla has collected while retracing his migration journey from El Salvador, through Mexico and into the US.

Amber Esseiva is the curator for Disease Thrower at the ICA. She says the exhibition’s inclusion of these objects -- toys, shells and gems, among other things -- turns them into “totems of ideas.”

“Each of these disease throwers have organs, like anatomical organs that you might find in a teaching institution like a school, and they designate sites of the body where someone, either Lupe or someone in his family, has had cancer,” Esseiva said.

Besides the disease thrower sculptures, the installation also features a long snake made of agave leaves that hangs from the 33-foot tall ceiling. On the wall, hand-made banners produced in Mexico protest the current US immigration system. Esseiva says this aspect of Disease Thrower is uniquely relevant to the city Richmond.

“In a city and in a climate where we tend to talk about histories of trauma a lot, we need to concentrate on what's [actually happening now],” she said. “It's important to talk about the relationship to the city and the history of slavery, but there are actually people that are being held in cages and being held against their will now. That's important to talk about.”

The walls are decorated with silver lines drawn by Maravilla and an undocumented immigrant student, recalling a game Maravilla played during his childhood in El Salvador -- tripa chuca.

“He’s bringing in things like childhood games that he used to play. There probably is a significance to what art making and drawing had for him as a kid,” Esseiva said. “And so it’s a practice in trying to dig up those memories and keep them alive through art making.”

Woman stands in front of sculpture
Amber Esseiva, a curator at ICA, says the work is uniquely relevant to Richmond. (Photo by Alan Rodriguez Espinoza/VPM)

When Disease Thrower opened at the ICA in November, Maravilla hosted a tea ceremony and a 12-hour overnight sound bath. Hannah Fisenne, one of his students, was one of dozens that slept on the floor for the full 12-hour sound bath.

“I have chronic pain,” Fisenne said. “I woke up with no pain which freaked me out. That’s never occurred before. I left feeling very healed.” 

Meera Brown is another student of Maravilla’s, and one of the performers who played an instrument during the overnight ceremony. They say they were drawn to the inclusivity of the exhibition.

“Everything is just charged right now,” Brown said. “As much as things are charged, you need to make space for those who need to be helped. It's for everybody, regardless of who you are and what you're there to experience.”

Disease Thrower will be on display at the ICA until July 1. The ICA says Maravilla will continue to use the installation to teach the public about the benefits of vibrational therapy, and he will be using his work to help immigrant youth connect with their roots. 

Maravilla will hold a talk and a Q&A session at the ICA on Wednesday, January 29 at 7 pm to discuss Disease Thrower.

The Glass Menagerie Is A Shattering Experience

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The Glass Menagerie Is A Shattering Experience

Laura and Jim sit on the floor with the words "I don't suppose you remember me at all" displayed behind them.
Photo by Tom Topinka

Without question, Tennessee Williams is one of America’s greatest writers and his plays have had a significant impact on the direction that theatre took in the 20th Century. One of his most famous plays, The Glass Menagerie is the current offering by 5th Wall Theatre and is being presented in TheatreLAB’s space, The Basement.

The intimate setting puts the audience almost right on top of the actors and that has to be intimidating for the players. One false move, one wrong twitch, one slight lapse in character, even for a second, will knock the audience out of the play. Fortunately, on the night I saw the play, the four actors that make up the play performed flawlessly and I was swept away into the world of the play was as real to me as any faded memory.

Memory is what this play is all about. If reality is indeed what we are able to perceive then those half-remembered fever dreams are as real as anything. Through the lens of Williams’ character of Tom, we hear the story of his dissatisfaction with his life; both home and work are as stifling as the heat and humidity that permeates the play.

Matt Bloch plays Tom Wingfield with a great deal of pent up frustration mixed with humor and some cruelty. Bloch is a very talented actor who has played a number of well-known roles, and here he has done justice to this complicated character. Bloch captures the anger towards the character’s mother Amanda, played amazingly by Lian-Marie Holmes. 

Amanda Wingfield is one of the truly great roles for women, and Holmes carries it with a mixture of grace and madness. She is desperate to hold onto her memories of the way things used to be in the old south, and she can’t reconcile that with the harsh circumstances of her current reality. Holmes moves around the stage with the grace of a butterfly, flitting from place to place delicately and also like a charging rhino about to gore its prey. It is a bravura performance and one that should not be missed.

Then there’s Laura, the most delicate creature, as fragile as the glass animals that she collects and fawns over in her corner of the living room. She refers to herself as “a cripple,” and indeed, actress Louise Keeton does give her a slight limp, sometimes more noticeable than others depending upon Laura’s current circumstances.

Shy, scared, and completely vulnerable, Laura is trapped between the warring Tom and Amanda, but is in no way strong enough to stand up for herself, or to broker peace between the two. In complete transparency, Keeton works at VPM, as do several other great actresses, none of whom expect any kindness from this critic.

Simply put, Keeton was born to play this role. Her small stature and hesitant voice project her pain beautifully and she is totally mesmerizing in the role.

The fourth character is Jim O’Connor, the “gentleman caller” that Tom brings home one night for supper and to meet Laura. O’Connor is the embodiment of the American Self-Improvement Individual. He was the BMOC is high school and is determined to pull himself up and out of the crowd by his own bootstraps. It’s a tricky role to play, as he offers banal platitudes in order to give Laura some hope, and then accidentally wrecks everything. The role is essayed by Cooper Sved, and while I am not overly familiar with his work, he has played several major roles and shows great promise for the future.

A fifth character, if you will, is Tennessee Dixon’s set and projections. Yes, projections. There are two versions of this play available – one a standard version with just the set, light, and music and one with those elements plus the addition of projections that play on a back screen that offer flashes of memory – old yearbook photos, a fire escape in an alley, and these play beautifully against the snatches of sound provided by Ryan Dygert.

Michael Jarett’s lights are nice and moody, a tricky thing to do in such a small space, but apparently a skill he has mastered. 

Director Morrie Piersol has beautifully blended all of these elements into a stunning production that should not be missed. Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, there are only a few performances left and space may be limited. Do yourself a favor and make your reservations early for The Glass Menagerie as you do not want to miss this.

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Black Photographers From Kamoinge Workshop Gain Recognition By Major Museums, Library of Congress

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Black Photographers From Kamoinge Workshop Gain Recognition By Major Museums, Library of Congress

Shawn Walker of the Kamoinge Workshop stands before the 1973 portrait of the group at the VMFA's exhibition.
Shawn Walker of the Kamoinge Workshop stands before the 1973 group portrait by fellow collective member Anthony Barboza that's included in the VMFA exhibition: “Working Together: Louis Draper and the Kamoinge Workshop.” Walker's position in the group photo is the second row, far right. (Photo: Catherine Komp/VPM News) 

Louis Draper grew up on the East End of Richmond and Henrico County and majored in journalism and history at Virginia State University. His father Hansel was a postal carrier and an amateur photographer. When he learned Louis was working for the school newspaper, he sent his camera to Petersburg.

Then something mysterious happened that would shape Draper for decades to come. Someone left a copy of “The Family of Man,” a 1955 catalogue of photographs from an exhibit by Edward Steichen for the Museum of Modern Art with a theme of showing how people were connected across borders and cultures. 

“I read it practically all night,” Draper said in a 2001 interview. “Instead of studying for my exam, I read The Family of Man. I was just enthralled by that book.”

Draper would leave the racism and segregation of Virginia and head to New York in 1957. There he developed his craft and eventually co-founded the Kamoinge Workshop, a collective of Black photographers who came together to support and mentor each other at a time when the white-dominated art establishment shut them out.

Louis Draper photo showing a boy standing in the middle of a New York street.
Louise Draper, Boy and H, Harlem 1961, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, National Endowment for the Arts Fund for American Art, 2013.282. Copyright Louis H. Draper Preservation Trust, Nell D. Winston, trustee.

“Bottom line, what we were trying to do is show a positive voice of our community,” Kamoinge member Shawn Walker told VPM. “That's what Kamoinge was about, that's why we formed. There was always somebody else telling our story and we wanted to tell our story.”

The VMFA’s exhibit “Working Together: Louis Draper and the Kamoinge Workshop” includes nearly 200 images by 15 early members of the collective. The exhibition took years of planning and conservation, after Nell Draper-Winston donated more than 50,000 photographs, negatives and other materials from her brother Louis’s collection. 

A common theme in the black and white street images is the “decisive moment,” that fraction of a second in someone’s life that, when captured on film, pulls you in and holds your eye. At the exhibition preview, Walker pointed to one of his images that demonstrates this concept: two men on a front stoop, their dark and light clothes contrasting, both wearing hats, each has a hand on the hip and only one is looking at the camera.

“They could turn at any moment, facing any different direction,” said Walker.

The term “decisive moment” is linked to the renowned French street photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson who visited the Kamoinge group in Harlem.

“He was important and he thought we were important. That's why he came to the gallery,” said Walker.

In the Kenyan language of Gikuyu, Kamoinge means “a group of people acting and working together.” Walker says it was like studying at the Sorbonne. They examined painting, literature and philosophy and applied what they learned to their photography.

“I understood from the beginning, from the first time I got into the group that I was trying to create art,” said Walker. “We recognize ourselves as an art group, not as a journalist group.”

Shawn Walker's image of two men on a New York stoop.
A snapshot of one of Shawn Walker's images in the VMFA exhibition demonstrating the "decisive moment" concept of street photography. (Photo: Catherine Komp/VPM News)

The exhibition is curated by the VMFA’s Sarah Eckhardt, who worked with Nell Draper-Winston to acquire and conserve Louis Draper’s collection. Eckhardt then tracked down other members of the Kamoinge Workshop, resulting in a comprehensive exhibition of images, portfolios and oral histories. 

“Any history of photography about the 1960s and ‘70s in the United States of America would not be complete if it did not have the Kamoinge workshop,” said Eckhardt at the exhibition preview.

Seven Kamoinge photographers came to Richmond for the exhibition opening, including co-founder Adger Cowans, who got a box camera when he was about nine years old. His first shot: his mother licking a bucket of ice cream.

After studying photography at Ohio University, Adger Cowans found his way to New York and worked with the celebrated Black photographer Gordon Parks at Life Magazine. 

“[Parks was a mentor] in the sense of life but not in the sense of photography,” Cowans told VPM. “Because I had a degree when I came, in fact I showed Gordon some new techniques that he was not aware of.”

One of those techniques was double exposed color. Cowans’ photograph of Louis Armstrong on the 1961 cover of Theater Magazine was the spark that initially connected him with other artists seeking mentorship.

Adger Cowans overhead photography of a man walking alone on a snowy New York street.
Adger Cowans, Footsteps, 1960, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Aldine S. Hartman Endowment Fund, 2018.201. Copyright Adger Cowans.

“We challenge each other, we gave, you know, critique to each other's work,” said Kamoinge member Beuford Smith.

Smith was self-taught, and developed a dark printing style. One of his images in the VMFA exhibition shows the silhouettes of two stand up bass players illuminated from behind by sheer, draping fabric. Smith says the artists pushed each other to be better, and developed a close bond that continues six decades later.

“We became a family and we still a family, but we argue with each other like most families do, but it's still a family,” said Smith.

The exhibition includes a range of street photography with striking contrast and composition, depth and dimension: a family on Easter, a solitary man walking through the snow, a youth chalking the alphabet on the street. It includes Draper’s iconic portraits of Black youth and Fannie Lou Hamer, Ming Smith’s images of Sun Ra and photography from the artists’ trips abroad to Cuba, Guyana and Senegal. 

Beuford Smith's 1972 photo of two silhouetted bass players illuminated from behind.
Beuford Smith, Two Bass Hit, Lower East Side, 1972, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Arthur and Margaret Glasgow Endowment, 2017.36 Copyright Beuford Smith/Césaire.

“This exhibit is reminding me of coming into my blackness,” said Hampton resident Linda Holmes. “But coming into my blackness with a sense of joy, with a sense of collectivity.”

Holmes points out that it matters who’s behind the lens. Where a white photographer might see poverty, a person of color might see community.

“When you look at these pictures, you're seeing so much more complexity, you're seeing depth, you're seeing the art,” said Holmes.

The VMFA exhibit will travel to the Whitney Museum in New York, the Getty Museum in Los Angeles and the Cincinnati Art Museum. For the Kamoinge artists who are still alive, like Adger Cowans, it’s a long-awaited recognition. 

“You know, if it happened when I was 45, it would have been fantastic,” said Cowans. “But still, it's great that we're being honored in this way, which I think puts us right at the center of the history of American photography and that's what's important.”

And that recognition continues to grow. Last week, the Library of Congress announced it purchased nearly 100,000 photographs from Shawn Walker’s collection including 2,500 items by Kamoinge Workshop artists.

Seven members of the Kamoinge Workshop pose at the VMFA exhibition of their work with curator Sarah Eckhardt
Kamoinge Workshop members at the VMFA opening of the first major museum exhibition of their work. Front row, left to right:  Beuford Smith, Herbert Robinson, Shawn Walker, Anthony Barboza Back row, left to right:  Miya Fennar (Al Fennar's daughter), Adger Cowans, James Mannas, Herbert Randall, Sarah Eckhardt (Photo: Catherine Komp/VPM News)

"A lifetime resident of Harlem, I have tried to document the world around me, particularly the African American community, especially in Harlem, from an honest perspective so that our history is not lost,” Walker said in a statement. “I am pleased that both my own photographic artwork and also some of the materials I have collected in my role as a cultural anthropologist will have a permanent home in an institution that will make them available to the public. I am so satisfied that this work has found a home in such a prestigious institution and can finally be shared with the world."

The VMFA exhibit “Working Together: Louis Draper and the Kamoinge Workshop” will be on display through June 14, 2020. On March 20th and 21st, a group of Kamoinge photographers will return to Richmond for a two-day symposium hosted by the museum and VCU School of the Arts. 

We should disclose the VMFA and VCU School of the Arts are sponsors of VPM.
 

If These Walls Could Talk: The Historic Academy Theatre

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If These Walls Could Talk: The Historic Academy Theatre

Find out how this theatre withstood fire, weather damage, segregation, and hard economic times, but eventually closed for 60 years deteriorating from the inside out. Hear the gripping history of the theatre from Geoffrey Kershner, Executive Director of the Academy Center of the Arts, and how it has been fully renovated to be a jewel in the crown of downtown Lynchburg.

Geoff also shares why he felt it was important to celebrate that upon the theatre’s reopening it would be an integrated facility unlike when it closed in 1958.

From Smartphones to Textiles, First Fridays Richmond Offers a Wide Range of Artistic Expression

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From Smartphones to Textiles, First Fridays Richmond Offers a Wide Range of Artistic Expression

Front edifice of a modern steel building
The Institute of Contemporary Art at VCU is one of a number of venues hosting events on March 6. (Photo by Jakob Cordes/VPM)

The monthly First Friday Art Walk is coming up this week, on March 6. The long-running Richmond tradition is promoted by the Downtown Neighborhood Association with participation from a wide array of galleries and shops, spanning parts of Monroe Ward and Jackson Ward known collectively as the Arts District. Many galleries host openings or special events on First Fridays, which can offer visitors a look at the full spectrum of artistic activity in Richmond, from the work of world-famous studio artists to innovative student pieces and everything in between.

This list highlights some new exhibitions and one-night events within a short walking distance, but it’s far from a complete review of First Friday events, which will be happening all over the city. For a comprehensive map of gallery and shop openings, check out the official First Fridays page.

Exhibitions

Proximal, Distal, Adrift - 1708 Gallery (6-8 p.m.)

“Proximal, Distal, Adrift” is the current exhibition at 1708 Gallery, featuring the work of Liliana Farber, who grapples with digital alienation and the implications of big data through a series of interactive and iterative installations.

One big draw of the exhibition is the innovative “Blue Vessel,” an art piece that visitors can access through a smartphone app. The installation invites users to browse archives undergoing real-time digital decay and write their own messages from pre-selected words randomly pulled from the novel “Robinson Crusoe.”

Hand typing on a propped-up phone
"Blue Vessel" takes the form of a smartphone app, and will invite visitors to interact with the work of Liliana Farber. (Photo Courtesy of Liliana Farber)

Languages of Clay, Fiber and Poetry - Anne’s Visual Art Studio Gallery (7:30-9 p.m.)

“Languages of Clay, Fiber, and Poetry” will be opening on March 6, featuring the art of Carolyn Gabb in a variety of mediums. Additionally, visitors can check out the other eclectic works on display, including the gothic dreamscapes of Chris Semtner and Alan Hollins’ color-filled abstract canvases.

The opening will feature live music by the band Aurika, whose improvisations and covers lend a bohemian air to the gallery. Featured artists often stop by during First Friday events, and the gallery will offer complimentary light refreshments and a cash bar.

Three men play instruments in a corner
Aurika plays a set at Anne's Visual Art Studio Gallery. (Photo Courtesy of Anne's Visual Art Studio Gallery)

What I like about Clay - Art 180 (6-9 p.m.)

For the show “What I like About Clay,” which will open March 6, Art 180 partnered with Richmond-area public schools through their Atlas Teens program to offer an artistic outlet to Richmond youth. The exhibit coincides with ceramic month, in conjunction with the National Council of Education for Ceramic Arts.

Although Art 180 is just a block off Broad Street, at the intersection of Brook Rd and West Marshall, it’s easily missed by casual visitors. Walk northeast on Jefferson or Adam towards Marshall to find it.  Art 180 will offer light refreshments.

Hands in background with "ATLAS, A project of Art 180, What I like about Clay" written over
Art 180's Atlas program worked with local schools to give students an avenue of self-expression. (Photo Courtesy of Art 180)

Memento/Morphology - Quirk Gallery (Open until 9 p.m.)

The Quirk Gallery is currently featuring two shows by Richmond-based artists. “Memento” is centered on ceramic pieces by Allan Rosenbaum, whose work is featured in the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian National Museum of American Art. “Morphology” presents inky black and bright acrylic canvases, melded together by painter Suzanna Fields. 

Quirk has an attached shop which will also be open until 9 P.M. The gallery is housed on the ground floor of the Quirk Hotel, which opened in 2015 and features a restaurant and rooftop bar for anyone wanting to take a break between exhibits.

Left: painting of a circle with mold-like cells inside. Right: ceramic piece moutned on wall
The Quirk Gallery will feature the work of two Richmond-based artists. (Photo Courtesy of Quirk Gallery)

Direct to Video - Institute for Contemporary Art (6-9 p.m.)

The Institute for Contemporary Art - established by VCU in 2018 - will be hosting a film showcase promoting short-format work by artists who have never made a film before. The exhibition, which was curated by VCU alumnus Dylan Languell, features nine titles from a diverse group of artists, including voices from outside of academia and the professional art world. First Friday is also a good opportunity to see “Disease Thrower,” which is currently installed at the ICA, and which was earlier featured on VPM.

Shopping

ArtWalk - Elegba Folklore Society (5-9 p.m.)

The Elegba folklore society will be hosting “Africa’s Art in Paint and Wood,” showcasing statues, masks, paintings, and textiles. Stop by to browse the society’s marketplace, offering imports, original artwork, jewelry, and personal care products. Light refreshments will be offered, and the market will feature live music by the group African Diaspora.

Kevin Sabo - Rosewood Clothing Co. (6-9 p.m.)

Rosewood Clothing Co. will be hosting new artwork by Kevin Sabo, whose most recognizable piece is the mural at 5th and Grace in the Arts District. Many of Sabo’s previous works are bright, eccentric portraits in a distinctive style. Alongside Sabo’s new pieces  will be the vintage clothing, jewelry, and personal products Rosewood typically carries.

DJ Night - Circle Thrift & Art Space (Open until 9 p.m.)

Circle Thrift is an eclectic shop with a large selection of second-hand clothes and funky furniture, as well as a selection of prints by local artists. The shop will have a local DJ providing music throughout the night, livening up the store, which has become a Broad Street staple since opening in 2015.

WATCH: Poetry Out Loud 2020 State Finals

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WATCH: Poetry Out Loud 2020 State Finals

The power of language is celebrated across the Commonwealth each year at schools that participate in Poetry Out Loud, a national arts education program. High school students work to master public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about literary heritage through classical and contemporary works of poetry. The program includes a recitation competition that begins in the classroom, progresses to regional and state finals, and typically ends with the naming of a national champion. The program is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, Poetry Foundation and locally by the Virginia Commission for the Arts.

On March 18, the Virginia state finals took place in a virtual world for the first time in 15 years. The annual in-person Poetry Out Loud event diverged from its typical jovial gathering of performers, friends, family members, judges and dignitaries amid concerns about COVID-19. Hosted by Alexandra Wiles from the studios of VPM, the event was transformed into a live-stream on Facebook, during which pre-recorded student performance videos were judged in real-time.

The live-stream opened with Palestinian American writer, poet, editor, and community activist Zeina Azzam reading an original work titled “Leaving My Childhood Home.” Janet Starke, Executive Director of the Virginia Commission for the Arts, shared inspiring words reflective of the current world situation.

Performances were judged on physical presentation, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, level of complexity, evidence of understanding and overall performance and accuracy by: Robert Fields, otherwise known as BlackLiq, an Emcee, Promoter, Teacher and Radio DJ; Suzanne Mallory-Parker, Local Program Director for Turnaround Arts: Richmond, a partnership program of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Richmond Public Schools; Ron Smith, former Poet Laureate of Virginia and current Writer-in-Residence at St. Christopher’s School and Poetry Editor for Aethlon: The Journal of Sport Literature; and Rich Follett, a high school English teacher whose works have been featured in numerous online and print journals for more than 40 years.

State finals competitors: Sam Rooker from Harrisonburg High School; Tani Washington from Deep Run High School; Libby Snowden of Norfolk Collegiate; Piper Won from John Champe High School; Ryan Poquis from Mills E. Godwin High School; Isabella Fernandez from Tallwood High School; Katherine Nguyen of Colonial Forge High School; Mia Shenkman from Washington-Liberty High School; Macie Miller from Alleghany High School; and Nalani Mason from Lake Braddock Secondary.

Katherine Nguyen, a sophomore at Colonial Forge High School, won first prize for a second consecutive year—she is the second student to do so in the Virginia competition's history. While some recitations have been removed for copyright purposes, you can enjoy many of the performances of the 10 young competitors above.

The national competition for 2020 is now canceled but the Poetry Out Loud organization is looking into innovative ways to honor the achievements of this year’s state champions.

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Stream Episodes And Paint Along With Bob Ross

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Stream Episodes And Paint Along With Bob Ross

Bob Ross

Bob Ross relaxes viewers and encourages the painting hobbyist in THE BEST OF THE JOY OF PAINTING. Using his "wet-on-wet" technique, Bob paints natural scenes with bold strokes across the canvas, from cascading waterfalls to snow-covered forests. Bob Ross’ calm disposition and easy-to-follow instruction remind viewers that “there are no mistakes, only happy accidents.”

Stream and paint along here.

Museum Helps Students Document Life During COVID-19

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Museum Helps Students Document Life During COVID-19

The Valentine Museum
The Valentine Museum is launching a new program to engage students during the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo: Alex Broening / VPM News) 
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The Valentine Museum closed
The Valentine Museum is closed to the public until May, but is continuing to engage the community online. (Photo: Alex Broening/VPM News)
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*This story was reported by VPM News intern Alex Broening

As museums nationwide have closed their doors to visitors to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the Valentine in Richmond is looking to engage the community online. 

To document the historic outbreak and its effects on students in Richmond, the museum is launching a new program, called “Richmond Stories from Richmond Kids.” K-12 students from the Richmond area are being asked to submit work that reflects their thoughts and feelings about how their lives have changed due to COVID-19. 

“These students are living through history, they’re living through a challenging time in our community, but also a very historic time in our community,” the museum’s communications director, Eric Steigleder, said. “We wanted to hear the stories, the narratives, the voices of kids and what they’re experiencing.”

The Valentine has a history of working with young people and schools in the region. Instead of physically engaging with them at the museum, Steigleder says “Richmond Stories from Richmond Kids” allows the museum staff to work with students online.

The goal, Steigleder says, is to record these historic events from the perspective of kids - who are too often left voiceless in recorded history.

 “This is giving them an opportunity, empowering them to share their story, and share what they're thinking, and ultimately making their voice part of the historical record for this really challenging historic moment,” Steigleder said.

Students can submit work in a range of media formats like drawing, photography, and audio diaries, encouraging them to be creative. The Valentine plans to share contributions on its website and social media, as a way to continue  engaging the community. The submissions page for the project can be found here.

Minds in Motion | Actors Renaissance | Artist Veronica Jackson

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Minds in Motion | Actors Renaissance | Artist Veronica Jackson

Taking the Stage: The Actors Renaissance Season @ American Shakespeare Center
The American Shakespeare Center in Staunton is the only replication in the world of the Shakespeare's BlackFriars playhouse. As a theatre organization, their mission is to recreate the physical and environmental theatre experience for current audiences as it was during Shakespeare's time. During their Actor's Renassiance season, ASC recreates the same Shakespeare experience for the ACTORS - a troupe of 12 actors - presenting 4 plays with no directors and 50-60 hours to rehearse before bringing the full show to the stage.

Minds in Motion: Richmond Ballet's Community Dance Program
In 1994, the Richmond Ballet started the Minds in Motion project, sending ballet dancers into the public schools with the goal to teach inner-city 4th graders movement and dance. The program celebrates 25 years this academic year and will be in 27 schools from Richmond/Petersburg and Charlottesville in 2020.

From Architect to Artist: Veronica Jackson
A trained architect and museum exhibit production artist, Veronica turned to creating her own works a few years ago. We visit her during her fellowship at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts as she works on expanding her work about the plight of African American women in America.

In COVID-19 Quarantine, Artists Find Audiences Online

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In COVID-19 Quarantine, Artists Find Audiences Online

Man with guitar and girl in front of green screen
Richmond artists have had to adapt to social distancing - and some have found inspiration in it. (Photo: Tony Corsano)

*This story was reported by VPM Intern Alan Rodriguez Espinoza

As the battle against COVID-19 escalates in Virginia and calls for social distancing grow louder, Richmond’s performing artists are turning to online live-streaming platforms for a stage.

In an effort to lift some spirits, Chandler Hubbard and his roommates started the Richmond Quarantine Theatre, a Facebook group that has since become a virtual gathering place for artists and creatives.

One of the first productions on the page was Hubbard’s comedy “Aletheia,” which he wrote for the stage.  Instead, over 100 audience members tuned in to Facebook Live to watch the premier online.

“Aletheia” tells the story of two couples gathering for a dinner party. The actors bounce lines of dialogue off each other, but miles apart, as the production takes place over a video call.

Video call with four participants
The Virginia Quarantine Theatre - which performs exclusively online - emerged as a virtual gathering place for artists.

Hubbard says the coronavirus has been a major disruption for the city’s growing theatre community.

“There's never a dearth of theatre in this town, and I think it was very shocking to people, how quickly it all could go away,” he said.

Hubbard is a full time actor and playwright for the Virginia Repertory Theatre, which had to cancel the rest of its 2020 season. In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, government officials have forced recreational and entertainment services to close their doors, and ordered would-be patrons to stay home. Hubbard says this has disrupted the livelihoods of many fellow artists.

“A lot of them got hit really, really hard immediately, you know. They just immediately were either let go or fired or their jobs closed,” he said.

On their Facebook page, Hubbard says some people contribute a daily dance or lip synching; others read books. “People are contributing in all their own ways. And I think that's all you can ask people,” Hubbard said.

The Richmond Performing Arts Alliance  took a similar approach when the third season of the association’s cabaret series, Legends on Grace, was cut short.

“That got us thinking, what can we do for our artists that perform and our patrons that are stuck at home and needing a creative outlet and a little bit of hope and light and joy?” said Jacquie O’Connor, programming coordinator for RPAA.

The answer was “Legends at Home,” a series of 30 minute performances streamed on Monday, Wednesday and Friday by local artists.

“These little moments where we can just sit around our computer screens or our phones and just sing along and watch people express themselves and connect with each other, even though we're not physically in the same room together, I think we are connecting in that moment,” O’Connor said.

For one of the Legends at Home performances, Richmond singer Desirée Roots invited viewers virtually into her home as her and her son shared their rendition of “Blackbird” by the Beatles.

“The arts give you hope,” Roots said. “Music makes the world go round, and this is the first time I've actually seen it halt.”

Screenshot of facebook livestream
Desirée Roots, a local singer, took part in the "Legends at Home" series.

Roots says a large part of her income comes from performing, so when theatres and venues began shutting down, she felt like she’d been knocked off her feet.

“I literally sat down looking at my calendar crossing out dates and was like, okay, there goes $1,000 there, there goes $2,000 there,” Roots said.

RPAA is normally housed in the Dominion Energy Center for the Performing Arts, another venue where most shows had to be cancelled or rescheduled. O’Connor says the closings and cancellations have been detrimental for non-profit arts organizations.

To help those artists, the RPAA created the Performing Artists Support Program, a fund that has raised more than $8,000. The money will be split up between the different Legends at Home Performers.

“To know that people are willing to give that much to support the arts, it was overwhelming,” Roots said. “My heart was just full to see that bar continually grow.”

Advances in technology and live streaming platforms have enabled artists to adapt to this unprecedented crisis in new ways. Artists who teach, like Tony Corsano, have been able to move their classes online.

Corsano has been teaching children’s music for 20 years, and he says the transition was smooth.

“With Facebook and Zoom and Venmo, all of these platforms have made it easier than ever to convey my music productions to the public,” Corsano said.

He’s started posting videos of himself and his daughter singing on his Facebook page, TonyTunes. He says his music brings people joy, something the world needs at this moment.

One of Corsano’s clients is Sami Hutchinson. She can no longer take her two year old son Lincoln to Corsano’s in-person classes, but she says the TonyTunes videos on Facebook have been a great way to break up the day.

Kid watches video on laptop
Lincoln Hutchinson enjoys the videos posted by music teacher Tony Corsano, as does his mother, Sami, who says they're a great way to distract from the stress of quarantine.

“I can tell that he really likes music the way he moves his head and everything to it, so I think it’s just a good outlet for him to maybe feel like he’s expressing himself,” Hutchinson said.

She says the music videos on Facebook have been good not only for Lincoln, but also for her and her husband as they cope with living in isolation.“I really get, ‘oh my gosh we’re stuck inside the house’ and it’s the same thing over and over,” Hutchinson said. “But for thirty minutes at least, we are really just dancing and singing, having fun and not really worrying about anything else.”

Corsano says as soon as he saw people had to stay home to help fight COVID-19, he put up a green screen, set up his home studio, and got to work. Like many other Richmond artists, he hasn’t been discouraged by all the bad news.

“This pandemic can take away my live performance, it can take away my revenue stream from live performance. However, it cannot take away my joy from sending my music out into the world,” Corsano said.

For many, the coronavirus has brought about fear, frustration and uncertainty. But for these artists and musicians, it’s also been a chance to highlight the important role that art plays in bringing together a community during a time of hardship.

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Artsline: Must See Virtual Art, History and Music Events

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Artsline: Must See Virtual Art, History and Music Events

Anne Frank Digital Series

 


Artsline: Virtual Edition || April 17, 2020


"Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one." ~ Stella Adler

Missing the RVA arts scene?  There's good news - our arts and culture community is finding creative solutions for overcoming social distancing challenges.  Here are some great options to stay connected this week and get your arts fix safe from home.  


1. Legends at Home

Music/Theatre
Monday, Wednesdays, Fridays - noon and 7pm

Richmond Performing Arts Alliance brings local performing artists, like Susan Greenbaum pictured above, right to your computer, for free, streaming performances.  While the RPAA provides these concerts free to the public, artists are paid through generous support of sponsors. 


2. Anne Frank: A Six-Part Digital Series and Reflection on Isolation

Theatre
Thursdays through April 30th

Anne Frank

The Whistlestop Theatre Company in Ashland launched their first-ever digital series. This six-part event brings to life selected diary entries by Anne Frank, reflecting on themes of isolation, confusion, and hope. The diary entries are supported with educational materials as well as community discussions. Watch on Facebook or their website.


3. Oakwood Arts Activity Kits

Visual Arts

Oakwood Art Kits

In collaboration with the Richmond Public Schools, Oakwood Arts is assembling art activity kits to give to students at local RPS food distribution sites. Each kit will include two weeks of art supplies, plus K-5 and teen activity prompts designed to help students stay engaged with the RPS curriculum.  Want to help? Donate art supplies for the kits - go here to learn more.


4. Secret Stage Concerts
Music
Wednesdays - Saturdays, 7pm

Double Down

The Beacon Theatre presents their Secret Stage live stream concerts to benefit Richmond/Tri-Cities musicians and employees at the Beacon affected by the COVID-19 shutdowns. You can also view them on Facebook Live.


5. Facebook Live Ranger Chat: “Maggie Walker’s Richmond”
History
April 22, 1pm

Maggie Walker

The Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site and Richmond National Battlefield Park present a “virtual tour” of sites around Richmond that have a significant connection to Maggie Walker’s life. “Stops” include the site of her birth, church, office building, and bank.  Plus, the Maggie Walker website offers a 360 degree tour of Maggie Walker’s house in Jackson Ward.


6. The Damsel: A Visual Album Collaboration
Visual Art
Wednesdays and Fridays, beginning April 22

Damsel

Thirteen Virginia-based artists joined together to launch this digital exhibit inspired by the newly released album, The Damsel by Erin Lunsford. Each artist will select a favorite a track and create a piece of art based on their interpretation of the song. Then, starting April 22, new works will be released on Instagram every Wednesday and Friday.


7.  Richmond Stories from Richmond Kids
Literary/History

Valentine

In the coming weeks, The Valentine museum is gathering Richmond kids’ stories about how life changed in Spring, 2020. Send your stories, journals, drawings, and pictures so they can share the story of what life was like for students in Richmond during this period.  Writing prompts included.


If you are an arts or culture organization with social-distance-safe events such as online classes, virtual exhibitions or concerts, or even book readings, submit your events to Artsline here.  If you are an artist, or an arts or culture organization in need of resources and tools during the COVID-19 pandemic, check out the list of local and national resources from Richmond CultureWorks.


Return

Ancient Dance of Bharatha Natyam | "Spectrum" Youth Theater Program | The Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative

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Ancient Dance of Bharatha Natyam | "Spectrum" Youth Theater Program | The Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative

The Lotus Life: Padma Rasiah Cantu
Richmond-based Padma Cantu, and her family, are globally recognized as masters in Bharatha Natyam, an ancient classical dance form from India that is acknowledged as one of the world’s oldest art forms. For many years, her family travelled to Yogaville, Virginia to teach summer camps for first/second generation Indian children who wanted to connect their Indian culture through dance. She continues this work regularly throughout the community.

A True Spectrum: Richmond's Queer Youth Theater Program
A collaboration between Richmond Triangle Players, TheatreLAB and SPARC, "Spectrum" is a theatre arts education program for queer youth and the only one of its kind in Virginia. Using SPARC's C.A.R.E. curriculum, students collaboratively create and perform their own play from start to finish.

Coming "Face to Face" at The Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative
The Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative in Charlottesville brings artists and community members with different life experiences together to facilitate ongoing discussion and fellowship, culminating with portraits representative of their joined experience.

Leslie M. Scott-Jones Brings Awareness To Black Theatre

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Leslie M. Scott-Jones Brings Awareness To Black Theatre

Hear from a couple whose music serves as a cultural pollinator, bridging together different styles and drawing on the traditions of their families’ past through the Lua Project. Then connect with Leslie M. Scott-Jones, an area artist who is making a difference in the community through her work in theater, music, writing and radio.