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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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Art Meets Exercise with the RVA Street Art Run by Sports Backers

The shirt alone is reason enough to get up and get running.

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It’s no secret that we’ve got a few murals around Richmond. Sports Backers wants to take advantage of that situation and is has organized the RVA Street Run.

We’re lucky to have a variety of vibrant murals that make our community pop and bring life to all areas. Join us as we celebrate these colorful creations with the virtual RVA Street Art Run! We’ll supply routes, and you pick and choose when and where you explore! Get some fresh air, discover something new, and have a colorful time! All participants receive a limited-edition street art inspired shirt designed by Mickael Broth aka the Night Owl.

Cost $22

Includes

  • Limited edition shirt designed by Mickael Broth
  • Suggested routes throughout the city

How it works:

  • Register through April 11
  • Run or walk along one of our street art courses (remember to follow social distancing guidelines!)
  • We will mail you your shirt

Brag about your race:

  • Snap a photo and sent it to us, or tag @sportsbackers on social media. Use #RVAStreetArtRun and together we’ll make social distancing feel not quite as isolating!

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VMFA Awarded $345,815 Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities

Funding from the NEH grant will support ten-week summer internships for nine undergraduate students in the museum’s conservation labs; one part-time, nine-month internship in the museum’s archives for a master’s program student in library sciences; and three postgraduate fellowships specializing in the conservation of paintings, objects and works on paper.

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The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has awarded nearly $346,000 in grant funds to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) to support its new three-year Preservation Training Initiative focusing on conservation and archives. This is one of 11 projects NEH selected to receive a Preservation Education and Training Grant as part of their funding category totaling $3.3 million.

“The National Endowment for the Humanities’ support for this initiative enables the museum to extend valuable, practical learning opportunities to more students,” said Alex Nyerges, VMFA’s Director and CEO. “The stewardship of the Commonwealth’s museum collections will ultimately benefit from professionals who have access to opportunities like this to develop their knowledge and skills.”

VMFA’s Preservation Training Initiative in conservation and archives is a three-year program that offers paid internships and fellowships to students and emerging professionals. Funding from the NEH grant will support ten-week summer internships for nine undergraduate students in the museum’s conservation labs; one part-time, nine-month internship in the museum’s archives for a master’s program student in library sciences; and three postgraduate fellowships specializing in the conservation of paintings, objects and works on paper.

In partnership with the Virginia Association of Museums (VAM), the Preservation Training Initiative will also develop two educational workshops for museum professionals from Virginia focusing on collections care and archival management in documents and archives as well as in the conservation and care of museum and material culture objects. The two workshops will each be presented twice to reach a greater number of participants.

“VMFA is serving as a resource for museums across the Commonwealth, advancing the development of the next generation of art conservators, archivists and collections care professionals,” said Debbie Linn, VMFA’s Assistant Chief Conservator. “The museum also recognizes the importance of diversifying the industry. Through this initiative we are actively working to attract candidates from underrepresented groups wishing to start careers in the cultural preservation field.”

“There are important touchpoints in museum careers,” said Stephen Bonadies, VMFA’s Senior Deputy Director for Conservation and Collections. “VMFA recognizes how essential it is for students specializing in conservation and archives to have opportunities to advance their studies, have real-world professional experiences and gain practical knowledge.”

The recruitment process for post-graduate fellows will begin in March 2021. Internship recruitment will be held during the summer of 2022.

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CultureWorks Announces Phase Two of Regional COVID-19 Artist and Creative Workforce Relief Fund

The COVID-19 Artist & Creative Workforce Relief Fund invites professional artists of all disciplines and creative workforce professionals from the Richmond and Tri-Cities region who have been directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic to apply for a one-time $500 grant.

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CultureWorks Richmond is pleased to announce the second phase of the COVID-19 Artist & Creative Workforce Relief Fund. The Fund was created in April 2020 by a coalition of arts and culture partners: 1708 Gallery, Afrikana Film Festival, ART 180, Black American Artists Alliance of Richmond (BAAAR), CultureWorks Richmond, Iridian Gallery, Studio Two Three, Oakwood Arts, and Visual Arts Center of Richmond. To date, CultureWorks has awarded $500 grants to 184 individual professional artists in need, spanning 32 disciplines. Additionally, CultureWorks issued emergency operating support grants ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 for 21 arts and culture organizations in critical need as a result of the pandemic. In total, CultureWorks has provided $172,000 of funding for the Region through the Relief Fund.

With generous financial support from Altria Group, we are able to launch Phase Two of the Fund in 2021.

Scott Garka, President of CultureWorks states, “As the pandemic and related COVID-19 precautions continue to keep many arts and culture venues closed, our region’s artists continue to be disproportionately impacted. We must invest in our artists now so that we can draw from our vibrant arts and culture to help us to heal and recover from the current crises.”

The COVID-19 Artist & Creative Workforce Relief Fund invites professional artists of all disciplines (visual, performing, or other professional artists) and creative workforce professionals* from the Richmond and Tri-Cities region who have been directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic to apply for a one-time $500 grant. This grant is designed to help compensate for lost planned or scheduled paid opportunities and to support basic living expenses. If awarded, funds can be used for rent, utilities, mental health services, medical care, and other basic living expenses (though not limited to these).

While the Fund is open to all eligible artists and creative workforce professionals in need, we will prioritize applications submitted by individuals who have been historically underrepresented based on race/ethnicity, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or socioeconomic status.

Applications may be submitted online. Applications open on Wednesday, February 10, 2021.

For more information about applying or contributing to the Fund please visit https://richmondcultureworks.org/relief-fund.

*Creative workforce professionals are specifically in the fields of production or operations for arts and culture organizations. For example, a production assistant (including stage lighting, props, and A/V support), museum art handler/installer, a theater set painter, music venue staff, festival directors, costuming assistant, box office worker.

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