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VMFA acquires portrait by iconic 16th-century woman artist Lavinia Fontana

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) announced their recent acquisition of Portrait of a Lady (1585) by Lavinia Fontana (1552-1614), a celebrated woman artist from Bologna. 

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The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) announced their recent acquisition of Portrait of a Lady (1585) by Lavinia Fontana (1552-1614), a celebrated woman artist from Bologna.

“Lavinia Fontana was a pioneer during her lifetime. The discovery and acquisition of this piece elevates VMFA’s collection of late Renaissance art,” says Alex Nyerges, VMFA’s CEO and Director. “Her work demonstrates the significant yet often unrecognized artistic contributions women have made throughout history.”

Fontana was one of the first women artists in Italy to work alongside her male colleagues. Owing to her talent and business acumen, she later became a trailblazer in her role as head of a successful studio. As early as the 1580s, Fontana’s portraiture was highly favored among Bolognese noble families. In the early 1600s, she moved to Rome where she became a painter at the papal court.

Best known for her portraits, Fontana was a renowned painter of the Mannerism movement during the Late Renaissance period. Her paintings reflect a maturation of the conventions of the Mannerist style and she plays an important role in the chapter of art history following the High Renaissance and immediately preceding the Baroque period. Despite the superficial naturalism that this portrait presents at first glance, the artist has cleverly manipulated the dimensions within the composition by subtly exaggerating the proportions of her sitter’s costume to give it a monumental aspect. The effect is magnified by the way that Fontana flattens the obscure background with its curiously positioned table, making the figure stand out in stark relief while simultaneously creating an image that is both spiritually intense and enigmatic. These contrivances, all of which are typical of earlier Mannerist artists such as Veronese and Tintoretto, allowed Fontana to create elegant compositions that flaunted her technical virtuosity.

The young woman in the portrait is dressed in an extravagant amount of gold, jewels, precious stones and pearls. During this era, pearls symbolized the purity of both body and soul. To further emphasize this aspect of her sitter’s moral character, Fontana depicts her toying gracefully with a rosary that is attached to her belt, a gesture that reminds the viewer of her pious dedication to daily prayer. Portraits of this kind were often part of the traditions surrounding aristocratic marital engagements. Fontana’s indulgence in representing the luxurious ornamentation, combined with her use of compositional elements intended to convey the Catholic piety and chastity of the sitter, ensure that the future bride is portrayed as a paragon of both wealth and virtue.

Although no evidence remains that might attest to the sitter’s identity, recent research has proposed that it could be an early portrait of Isabella Gonzaga (1565–1637). A member of a prestigious princely family of Mantua, Isabella inherited the minor principality of Sabbionetta from her father, and she was an influential presence at the courts of the duke of Milan and the king of Naples.

“Here is a woman’s regard for another woman during an era when the very contours of womanhood were principally being delineated by men. A noble woman in this society had to struggle to affirm her place, her dignity and her authority,” says Dr. Sylvain Cordier, VMFA’s Paul Mellon Curator and Head of the Department of European Art. “This representation of a confident and charismatic young noble woman will play a vital role in the development of the spectacular Grand Portrait Gallery that we are preparing for 2025. This gallery will assist our visitors to interrogate the constantly changing conventions governing gendered representation in European art over the course of several centuries.”

Portrait of a Lady is currently on view in VMFA’s Atrium. For more information about the museum’s collection of Renaissance art, visit www.VMFA.museum.

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Trevor Dickerson is the co-founder and editor of RVAhub.com, lover of all things Richmond, and a master of karate and friendship for everyone.

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Arts & Entertainment

Richmond Folk Festival Announce Full Schedule

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The Richmond Folk Festival returns to an in-person event as it celebrates its 17th anniversary October 8-10, 2021, inviting fans to downtown Richmond’s riverfront to celebrate the roots, richness, and variety of American culture through music, dance, traditional crafts, storytelling, and food.

The free, three-day, outdoor event is produced by Venture Richmond Events in partnership with the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA), the Center for Cultural Vibrancy, and the City of Richmond.

Featuring five stages and showcasing music and dance from 30 artists from around the nation and the world, the Richmond Folk Festival today announces the full performance schedule—a captivating mix of cultural traditions, artistic excellence, and individual creativity from some of the nation’s finest traditional artists.

“We are excited to welcome everyone back to Downtown Richmond’s beautiful historic riverfront. We’re doing everything we can to make certain that the Richmond Folk Festival is the same exceptional event you’ve come to know and love,” said Venture Richmond CEO Lisa Sims. “A year and a half into the pandemic, and with a fully approved vaccine available to most of us, we all have tools to help minimize our risks. Those tools include mask wearing for everyone regardless of vaccination status, social distancing wherever possible, and getting your vaccination if you can. Our hope is that everyone will be a Good Neighbor to their fellow attendees by using each of these tools. Our Covid plan is a robust guide to making sure we are all as safe as possible. Our staff, crew, volunteers, and vendors will be masked at the festival — regardless of vaccination status — and all artists will be masked until they are on stage and performing. We hope to see you there!”

Venture Richmond Events continues to closely monitor CDC and Virginia guidelines for COVID-19 protocols for large, in-person outdoor events. A commitment to safety and adherence to local, state, and federal ordinances and recommendations guide all decisions regarding in-person, outdoor events. (see COVID-19 guidelines)

Full Performance Schedule

Read all about the performers at each stage, and see the full weekend event schedule.
Read all about each artist performing, plus audio and video samples.

Richmond Times-Dispatch Virginia Folklife Area and Stage

The Virginia Folklife Area and Stage returns this year with another scintillating lineup of some of the finest traditional artists from across the Commonwealth. After a year away, we’re excited to welcome back some friends who have graced our stage through the years. We’ll revel in the virtuosic bluegrass stylings of Danny Knicely, the lightning quick oyster knife wielding of champion shucking sisters Deborah Pratt and Clementine Macon Boyd, and the soul stirring and electrifying harmonies of Richmond’s own Legendary Ingramettes. Our 2021 Virginia Folklife Stage will also introduce audiences to a host of gifted artists gracing our stage for the first time. We’ll go honky-tonking with a giant of the Telecaster, Redd Volkaert, move and be moved by the hip hop and bluesy prowess of J Pope and the HearNow and Justin Golden and the Come Up, and get swept up in the frenzy of Corn Tornado, an infectiously raucous bluegrass band led by one of the greatest songwriters ever to come out of Virginia, David “Bluegrass Buddy” Via, reunited for this once in a lifetime performance.

In addition to the musical offerings on the Folklife Stage, the Virginia Folklife Traditional Crafts Area will present MASK, featuring the remarkable Mongolian masks and ceremonial costumes and dance of Arlington, Virginia, resident Gankhuyag “Ganna” Natsag, marking the first time that the Folklife Traditional Crafts Area features the work of a single artist. Ganna is celebrated for recreating all 108 masks associated with the Mongolian Buddhist tsam, a secret and subtle ritual which had been banned by the Communist government in the 1930s along with other tsam religious displays. Ganna’s
artistry has been exhibited to audiences all over the world, including the Dalai Lama himself. For Ganna’s lifetime of work the Mongolian government recently honored him with the title of Cultural Ambassador to the United States.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch Virginia Folklife Area and Stage is produced by the Center for Cultural Vibrancy.

Read all about the artists of the Richmond Times-Dispatch Virginia Folklife Area.

Update to the CarMax Family Area

Due to the highly interactive nature of the activities planned for the CarMax Family Area, the Richmond Folk Festival will not host a family area this year. The CarMax Family Area, produced by the Children’s Museum, is a robust and engaging, much-loved, part of the Festival. However, due to the lack of an approved Covid 19 vaccine for children under 12, we believe cancelling the Family Area activities is best for the safety of our littlest patrons. The Children’s Museum will be back to host the much-loved CarMax Family Area in 2022.

For all information on the festival, please visit RichmondFolkFestival.org. #RVAFolkFest

To make a donation to the Richmond Folk Festival today, Text to Give! Text FOLK to 44321.

The Richmond Folk Festival is produced by Venture Richmond Events, in partnership with the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA), the Center for Cultural Vibrancy, and the City of Richmond.

The Richmond Folk Festival is sponsored by Altria, Dominion Energy, CoStar Group, CarMax, NewMarket Corp., Richmond Times-Dispatch, WestRock, Brown Distributing, Community Foundation, LIDL, Virginia Lottery, Atlantic Union Bank, NBC12 & CW Richmond, VPM, SummitMedia, Hilton Richmond Downtown, ONE Casino + Resort, Amtrak, Children’s Museum, American Civil War Museum, National Park Service, Virginia Humanities, JAMinc., Plan 9 Music, RMC Events, PD Brooks, SmartBox, Virginia Housing, Winn Transportation, House of Hayes, TNT Auto Rental, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Virginia War Memorial.

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Arts & Entertainment

Style Weekly Ending Run

In another blow to independent journalism Style Weekly’s September 8th edition will be their last.

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Style Weekly posted the following on Facebook.

Note from the Editor-in-Chief:
Style Weekly will cease publishing after the Sept. 8 edition. We thank our talented staff for their award-winning efforts and our loyal readers for their support. Thank you, Richmond.
Style Weekly was many folks’ first connection to the arts and music scene in Richmond. All the talented folks that put their time into the publication will be missed.

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Arts & Entertainment

Richmond Folk Festival Announces More Artists

Richmond Folk Festival has nine new artists for you to check out as we wait, with fingers crossed for the return of Folk Fest.

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The Richmond Folk Festival celebrates its 17th anniversary October 8-10, 2021 inviting fans to downtown Richmond’s riverfront to celebrate the roots, richness, and variety of American culture through music, dance, traditional crafts, storytelling, and food.

The free, three-day, outdoor event is presented by Venture Richmond Events in partnership with the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA), the Center for Cultural Vibrancy, the Children’s Museum, and the City of Richmond.

Featuring six stages and showcasing music and dance from more than 30 artists from around the nation and the world, the Richmond Folk Festival today announces a second group of artists performing at this year’s festival—a program that will again be culturally diverse and artistically excellent, with some of the finest traditional artists performing throughout the weekend.

“We are proud to be back this year on Richmond’s beautiful downtown riverfront,” said Blaine Waide, associate director of the National Council for the Traditional Arts. “From returning favorites to up-and-coming artists making their Richmond debut to traditions like Sicilian traditional music
that we have never presented before, this year’s program lives up to the festival’s reputation for offering a dizzying variety of artistic expressions and experiences—all for free!”

Venture Richmond Events continues to closely monitor CDC and Virginia guidelines for COVID-19 protocols for large outdoor events. A commitment to safety and adherence to local, state, and federal ordinances and recommendations will guide all decisions regarding the festival.(see COVID-19 guidelines)

The nine newly announced artists to be featured at the 2021 Richmond Folk Festival include:

The Brotherhood Singers (African American a cappella gospel quartet singing)
Covington, Kentucky

Donny Broussard & the Louisiana Stars (Cajun)
Kaplan, Louisiana

Jasmine Bell & North Bear (Lakota hoop dance and Northern Plains drum)
Riverton, Wyoming

The Pedro Giraudo Tango Ensemble (Argentine tango)
New York, New York

Rosa Tatuata with Michela Musolino (Sicilian traditional music)
Clifton, New Jersey

Sugaray Rayford (blues)
Los Angeles, California

Taj Weekes (reggae)
St. Lucia by way of New York, New York

Tres en Punto (trío romántico)
Mission, Texas

The Western Flyers (western swing)
Burleson, Texas

The festival’s previously announced artists include:

Joanie Madden & Cherish the Ladies (Irish)
Yonkers, New York

Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper (bluegrass)
Charlestown, Indiana

Nava Persian Trio (Persian santour)
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Plena Es (bomba y plena)
Sunrise, Florida

Rare Essence (go-go)
Washington, D.C.

Sean Jones “Dizzy Spellz” feat. Brinae Ali (jazz, hip hop, and tap dance)
Baltimore, Maryland

Click here for extended artist bios, plus audio and video samples on our website.

Encore Performances on VPM

Every Saturday at 5:00pm, catch VPM broadcasts of favorite performances from the past 13 years of the Richmond Folk Festival, as well as the three years the city hosted the National Folk Festival (2005-07). Tune in to Richmond public radio VPM stations 107.3 FM & 93.1 FM for great musical memories. Add these shows to your calendar today:

Aug 28 Dale Ann Bradley
Sep 4 Lurie Bell, Andes Manta
Sept 11 Amargue Bachata Quintet with Andre Veloz
Sept 18 Ahava Raba with Yanky Lemmer
Sept 25 Sona Jobarteh
Oct 2 Maggie Ingram, Frank Newsome, The Paschall Brothers, Clinton Fearon

Interactive Scavenger Hunt

From now through Labor Day weekend, the Richmond Folk Festival is offering an interactive scavenger hunt. It takes about an hour or two to complete, and there are two routes from which to choose. The scavenger hunt presents opportunities to notice often-missed public art, learn about history and different cultures, and listen to relevant musical links along the way. Like the festival, both routes include hills, steps, and uneven ground. Those who successfully complete the festival’s scavenger hunt will be entered in drawings for prizes, with winners selected all summer long! The scavenger hunt runs through September 7.

For all details, please visit our website: https://www.richmondfolkfestival.org/scavhuntintro

More information on the festival and additional artists performing this year will follow soon. For
updates, visit www.richmondfolkfestival.org. #RVAFolkFest

To make a donation to the Richmond Folk Festival today, Text to Give! Text FOLK to 44321.

The Richmond Folk Festival is produced by Venture Richmond Events, in partnership with the
National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA), the Center for Cultural Vibrancy, the Children’s
Museum, and the City of Richmond.

The Richmond Folk Festival is sponsored by Altria, Dominion Energy, CoStar Group, CarMax,
NewMarket Corp., City of Richmond, WestRock, Brown Distributing, Community Foundation,
Amtrak, LIDL, Virginia Lottery, Atlantic Union Bank, NBC12 & CW Richmond, VPM,
SummitMedia, Hilton Downtown Richmond, ONE Casino + Resort, American Civil War Museum,
National Park Service, Virginia Humanities, JAMinc., Plan 9 Music, RMC Events, PD Brooks,
SmartBox, Virginia Housing, Wells Fargo, Winn Transportation, House of Hayes, TNT Auto
Rental, Federal Reserve Bank, and Virginia War Memorial

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