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New VMFA exhibition portrays the majestic beauty of Virginia’s Natural Bridge

The exhibition, free to visitors, will be on view at VMFA from February 6 to August 1, 2021.

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The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) has announced its upcoming exhibition, Virginia Arcadia: The Natural Bridge in American Art, an exploration of the artistic portrayal of this spectacular and seemingly miraculous natural landmark. The exhibition, free to visitors, will be on view at VMFA from February 6 to August 1, 2021.

The majesty of the Shenandoah Valley’s Natural Bridge, a 400-year-old geological formation, has inspired artists, writers and explorers over the centuries. It has served as an ethereal example of the American landscape, an icon of natural history and a witness to human civilization. One of the most depicted sites in American 19th-century landscape painting, this formation captured the imaginations of artists like Frederic Church, David Johnson, Edward Hicks and Caleb Boyle, as well as many decorative artists.

“VMFA is pleased to recognize Virginia’s very own natural landmark through this exhibition,” said VMFA Director and CEO Alex Nyerges. “We hope Virginia Arcadia inspires appreciation for and interest in rediscovering the wonderful natural world here in our state, and also recognizing that the environment is a precious source of inspiration.”

“Consider a time when our very landscape sparked wonder and inspired myth,” said the exhibition’s curator, Dr. Christopher C. Oliver, VMFA’s Assistant Curator of American Art. “Artists were moved to not only capture its picturesque splendor and breathtaking sense of place, but also all that the Natural Bridge represented and idealized — the sublime divinity of the natural world, the excitement of discovery, the harmony between nature and civilization and the abundance of pastoral beauty.” The Natural Bridge is also historically relevant to western expansion, slavery, natural history, tourism and ecological conservation.

Virginia Arcadia examines the Natural Bridge through more than 60 paintings, prints, decorative art objects and photographs made between the late 1700s and the early 1900s. Highlights of the exhibition include works from VMFA’s collection including one of the earliest illustrations of the Natural Bridge, an engraving from 1787 by Baron De Turpin, a French engineer sent to document the site, one of three such engravings featured in Volume 1: Travels In North-America in the Years 1780, 1781 and 1782. Joshua Shaw’s oil painting Natural Bridge No. 1 (ca. 1820) captures the view from atop the arch of the bridge looking down into a nearby creek in Rockbridge County, Virginia. Several works in the exhibition are on loan from institutions across the country including the Chrysler Museum, the Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia, the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the Virginia Museum of History and Culture, and the Yale University Art Gallery, as well as from private collections.

More information about Virginia Arcadia: The Natural Bridge in American Art can be found on the museum’s website.

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Arts & Entertainment

Weekend Radar: Mighty Joshua, JamPacked Craft Beer & Music Festival, Carytown Watermelon Festival, and more

I feel guilty picking an indoor event when looking at the forecast but that’s just the kind of rebel I am at times.

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Mighty Joshua at Dogwood Dell
August 13th

Mighty Joshua is some of the best reggae in Richmond. If you like reggae you should go to this free show.

Richmond Oddities & Curiosities Expo at Convention Center
August 13th

I went last year and came back with some treasures. I didn’t not come back with a taxidermy jackalope because I want to remain married.

The Oddities & Curiosities Expo showcases hand selected vendors, dealers, artists and small businesses with all things weird. You’ll find items such as: taxidermy, preserved specimens, original artwork, horror/halloween inspired pieces, antiques, handcrafted oddities, quack medical devices, creepy clothing, odd jewelry, skulls/bones, funeral collectibles & much more. We truly have something weird for everyone at our shows. All items you see at our shows are legal to own and sustainably sourced.

The O&C Expo provides a safe place for anyone to come and discover new artists, meet new friends and be surrounded by an amazing community of like-minded people. We pride ourselves in being a completely “DIY” ran show from start to finish. We find so much joy in being able to provide a place where you can feel at home surrounded by others that share the same interests.

We are the first and original traveling event exclusively showcasing oddities vendors and dark artists in the country. We are a one of a kind event and the first to do what we specialize in. We take tremendous pride in this and hope to gain your support along the way.

JamPacked Craft Beer and Music Festival on Brown’s Island
August 13th,

Beer and music what more do you need to know? How about costs? $35 at the gate no cash. It will give you access to over thirty breweries and a full line up of music. Bonus the weather will be awesome.

Carytown Watermelon Festival
August 14th

I know it’s heresy but I’m not a fan of the Carytown Watermelon Festival. I am glad its back for all those that enjoy it and I’m sure Jonathan the Juggler will be in the crowd somewhere so that’s always fun. This is the 40th Annual Watermelon Festival so they’re obviously doing something right.

The Richmond Tradition continues THIS SUNDAY with the The 40th Annual Carytown Watermelon Festival – presented by Publix Super Markets. The event kicks off at 10am and will feature something for everyone, including:
– live music on 5 stages throughout the festival area – music powered by Virginia Credit Union LIVE
– delicious eats from local food vendors
– one of the largest kids area’s of any festival in Virginia
– beer garden with proceeds benefitting Project Local
– arts, jewelry, crafts, and more!

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VMFA adds diverse selection of over 1,200 new works into its permanent collection

The new acquisitions include an Andrew Wyeth portrait and a 15th-century Chinese gilded statue, among other works.

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The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) has announced that a compelling and diverse group of new acquisitions has recently been added to its permanent collection. More than 1,200 works of art were purchased by or gifted to the museum in Richmond during the fiscal year, which ended June 30, 2022.

“We are overjoyed to continue expanding our comprehensive collection of nearly 50,000 works of art, which will enrich the lives of our visitors for generations to come,” said Alex Nyerges, VMFA’s Director and CEO. “Some of the new works will be showcased in the museum’s new wing, which is slated to open in 2027 and includes expanded galleries for African, American, Native American, and 21st-Century art.”

Highlights of the acquisitions include significant additions to the museum’s American art holdings. In particular, the VMFA says in a release that it is excited to welcome works by notable 20th-century American artists Andrew Wyeth and Guy Pène du Bois. Erickson’s, painted by Wyeth in 1973, epitomizes the artist’s exploration of the human condition through one of his most recognizable subjects, his neighbor George Erickson. Given Wyeth’s status as “one of the most lauded and avidly collected artists of the 20th century,” according to Dr. Christopher C. Oliver, Bev Perdue Jennings Associate Curator of American Art, “VMFA ultimately intends to feature the work as a cornerstone of the museum’s new wing.” Visitors do not have to wait to see the painting; however — it is currently on view in the James W. and Frances G. McGlothlin Wing.

Guy Pène du Bois’ 1929 painting Approaching Storm, Racetrack serves as an equally significant addition to the museum’s American art holdings. The work is “arguably one of the three best and most important canvases” made by the artist, acclaimed for his contributions to American Modernism, according to Louise B. and J. Harwood Cochrane Curator of American Art Dr. Leo G. Mazow. “Approaching Storm, Racetrack is as visually stunning as it is culturally evocative,” said Mazow.

VMFA’s efforts to broaden the scope of its holdings by living artists are evident within a group of multifaceted works new to its contemporary art collection. One such accession is Gravity and Grace, a large-scale installation crafted from aluminum bottle tops and copper wire that was made by the Nigerian-based Ghanaian artist El Anatsui in 2010. Through the artist’s simultaneous use of abstraction and unconventional materials, as well as traditional Ghanaian Adrinka imagery, the work marries modernist impulses with classical West African sensibilities. The artist pushes viewers to ponder the intersections of persisting global issues by interrogating “the legacy and residual effects of colonialism in African countries like Ghana and Nigeria by using materials rooted in consumption, waste and the environment,” according to Valerie Cassel Oliver, Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. “Through used and discarded objects, Anatsui addresses the postcolonial ramifications upon former colonized nations. However, it is the artist’s manipulation of these very materials into magnificent works of art that speaks to African communities’ resiliency and beauty, emphasizing transcendence past limitations,” added Cassel Oliver, who looks forward to installing the 37-feet wide work in the museum’s new wing.

Another noteworthy acquisition to VMFA’s contemporary holdings is Armour Skirt IV, a 2017 sculpture by renowned Pakistani artist Naiza Khan. The work, which alludes to structural female undergarments in its form, meditates on the politicization of the public female body in Pakistan amidst the ongoing cultural conflict between Islamization and feminist activism that began in the 1980s. “The sculpture is the first work by a Pakistani woman artist to enter VMFA’s South Asian collection,” noted Dr. John Henry Rice, E. Rhodes, and Leona B. Carpenter, Curator of South Asian and Islamic Art.

VMFA is also delighted to add esteemed photographer Carrie Mae Weems’ 1990 breakout body of work, The Kitchen Table Series, to the photography collection. The series questions the role of racial and gender power dynamics within family relationships through 20 photographs and 14 text panels. “Acquiring such an iconic body of work expands our extant holdings of photographs by this important artist and complements our rich collections of work by artists like Louis Draper and members of the Kamoinge Workshop,” said Dr. Sarah Kennel, Aaron Siskind Curator of Photography and Director of the Raysor Center for Works on Paper.

Rounding out the museum’s new acquisitions are exciting additions to VMFA’s holdings of European art and East Asian art, including a historically significant painting by French Romantic master Théodore Géricault and a 15th-century Chinese gilded statue. Portrait of An African Man, painted by Géricault in 1819, epitomizes the artist’s embrace of “established conventions of history painting in the service of marginalized or oppressed groups and causes, including abolitionism,” said Dr. Sylvain Cordier, Paul Mellon Curator and Head of the Department of European Art. The painting depicts a survivor from the infamous 1816 Medusa shipwreck, wherein the doomed ship’s captain left lower-ranking members of the crew, particularly those of color, to die, opting to save only himself and his senior officers. The portrait, which is believed to be a preparatory study for Géricault’s 1819 masterpiece The Raft of the Medusa, depicts one of the painting’s main protagonists, an African man whose tragic heroism transforms the scandalous incident into a “monumental scene” imbued with abolitionist political intent.

The museum’s East Asian Art collection welcomes the addition of Chen Yanqing’s Seated Figure of Yuanshi Tianzun (Celestial Worthy of Primordial Beginning), a stunning early 15th-century Chinese gilded bronze statue of the preeminent Daoist deity.  Through “the work’s exemplary exploration of Daoist aesthetics and concepts, the statue will serve as one of VMFA’s most important pieces of Chinese art,” said Li Jian, E. Rhodes, and Leona B. Carpenter, Curator of East Asian Art. One of only 12 surviving bronzes by Chen Yanqing, this work joins three others that are held outside China, all in North American museum collections. The sculpture, which was acquired at auction at Sotheby’s, New York, in March 2022, will be exhibited later this summer.

In the process of expanding and transforming VMFA’s collections over the last 12 months, the museum’s 15 curators have sought to “address the historical under-representation of African, African American, Islamic, Latinx, LGBTQIA+, Native American and women artists,” said Dr. Michael Taylor, Chief Curator and Deputy Director for Art and Education. “These efforts are evident in the works the museum added to the collection over the past year, and for the seventh year in a row, VMFA has spent more than 30 percent of its endowed acquisition funds on African and African American art in line with our strategic plan.” Through these efforts, VMFA hopes to fulfill its “profound commitment to representing and serving all of the state’s diverse communities,” Dr. Taylor added.

For more information about the permanent collection of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, visit www.VMFA.museum.

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Arts & Entertainment

U of R’s Modlin Center for the Arts announces 2022-2023 season

The University of Richmond’s Modlin Center for the Arts has announced its 2022-2023 season, and has announced that it is being even more intentional than ever in offering a diverse program of artists, emphasizing BIPOC and women-led companies to share its stages and classrooms this season.

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The University of Richmond’s Modlin Center for the Arts has announced its 2022-2023 season, and has announced that it is being even more intentional than ever in offering a diverse program of artists, emphasizing BIPOC and women-led companies to share its stages and classrooms this season.

Modlin is working to create more opportunities to connect with artists, in new settings and over periods of weeks or years, rather than brief visits or singular performances. Expanding spaces for conversations with artists, University of Richmond students and the greater Richmond community will include artist residencies, panel discussions, master classes, social gatherings, free school series events, and more.

“Modlin Center for the Arts has long held a commitment to presenting a breadth and depth of artists, performing work that engages audiences in ways that extend beyond the stage,” shared Paul Brohan, Modlin’s Executive Director. “Three factors served to guide Modlin Center in building the 2022-2023 season of transformational experiences for our community: inclusive diversity, creating expanded opportunities for engagement, and removing barriers to access.”

“Modlin Center for the Arts and the University of Richmond believes that art is available to everyone and you belong here,” Brohan added. “We can’t wait to welcome you back.“

As Modlin returns to in-person events and full-capacity seating, every adult ticket this season is $35 (or less). Modlin patrons are invited to Create Their Own (4+) Series ¾ choose four or more events and enjoy 20% off all adult tickets. Discounted single event tickets are also available for seniors and students/youth. Additionally, the Department of Music Free Concert Series and UR Free Theatre and Dance season add over 30 free opportunities to see compelling live performances. UR Museums offer regular exhibitions and other programs that are free and open to the public.

Tickets are available online at https://modlin.richmond.edu, where you can view this season’s lineup, and by phone at 804-289-8980.

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We need your help. RVAHub is a small, independent publication, and we depend on our readers to help us provide a vital community service. If you enjoy our content, would you consider a donation as small as $5? We would be immensely grateful! Interested in advertising your business, organization, or event? Get the details here.

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