The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) has announced the appointment of Patrick Patrong to the position of Chief Diversity Officer, Assistant Deputy Director for Equity, Diversity & Inclusion and HR Strategic Initiatives. Patrong comes to VMFA with more than 25 years of experience as a public service leader.
Currently the lead facilitator for his consulting firm, Patrong Enterprises, Inc., he has also worked as Construction Training Manager for the Virginia Department of Transportation and Director of the Training, Education and Exercise Division for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. In addition, he led organizational diversity initiatives for seven professional schools of the University of Maryland, Baltimore, while serving as Director of Organization and Employee Development.
“Patrick has a solid background in implementing and managing diversity programs at several agencies in the public sector. We are delighted to have someone with his extensive experience joining the museum’s human resources team,” said Alex Nyerges, VMFA’s Director and CEO. “Patrick will play a leading role taking VMFA’s EDIA initiatives to the next level and ensuring that the values of equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility are fully integrated into everything the museum does and shared with all VMFA employees.”
As Chief Diversity Officer, Assistant Deputy Director for Equity, Diversity & Inclusion and HR Strategic Initiatives, Patrong will assist in leading EDIA strategies defined in VMFA’s 2021-2025 Strategic Plan and co-lead the museum’s commitment to the ONE Virginia Plan recently launched by the Governor’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI) and Department of Human Resource Management (DHRM).
For more than a decade, VMFA has actively worked to diversify its collection, exhibitions, staff and audience. Building on the success of its previous strategic plan, the museum strives to become a more vibrant, inclusive cultural leader. The museum’s current strategic plan demonstrates its commitment to the principles of equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility. VMFA’s vision is to be an institution that empowers all Virginians — through art and creativity — to reflect and connect to each other, their communities and the wider world.
“I am excited to join the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts team, to work with employees and the museum’s community on expanding the institutional EDIA initiatives. VMFA’s diverse organizational culture already has unique advantages when it comes to attracting diverse staff and visitors and developing museum exhibitions, art collections and programs that appeal to diverse communities,” said Patrong. “Communication, idea generation, creativity and connectivity are all enhanced through engagement with the museum’s representative communities.”
“Patrick’s knowledge and experience will help VMFA continue to advance towards instilling EDIA values and practices, becoming a more valuable and relevant community resource, and providing even greater access to the arts for all people in the Commonwealth,” said Kimberly Wilson, VMFA’s Chief Operating Officer and CHRO/Deputy Director for Human Resource Services, Museum Operations and Volunteers.
Patrong will begin his position at VMFA on July 26. For more information about VMFA’s strategic plan and EDIA initiatives visit www.VMFA.museum.
The Nutcracker Returns
Richmond Ballet and its beloved holiday tradition The Nutcracker return to Dominion Energy Center December 11-23, with the Richmond Symphony playing Tchaikovsky’s magnificent score.
Richmond Ballet and its beloved holiday tradition The Nutcracker return to Dominion Energy Center December 11-23, with the Richmond Symphony playing Tchaikovsky’s magnificent score. Clara, her adoring Nutcracker, the glittering butterfly, and the dancing Russian bear will once again charm audience members of all ages.
Choreographed by Artistic Director Stoner Winslett, the Richmond Ballet holiday classic has been heralded as “one of the country’s most perfect [Nutcracker productions]” by The New York Times, and this season will mark the final year to celebrate the current production as updated costumes and dazzling new sets will premiere in December of 2022.
“The Nutcracker is a multigenerational experience, with parents, grandparents, and children alike entranced by the magical story. We were heartbroken to not have been able to bring the live theatre experience to the community last year” notes Winslett. “We look forward to welcoming audiences back to Dominion Energy Center this December where the holiday tradition will carry on and new memories will be created.”
Tickets to The Nutcracker start at $25. Tickets may be purchased online at etix.com, by phone at 804.344.0906 x224 or in person at the Richmond Ballet Box Office, 407 East Canal Street, Monday – Friday, 11:00am – 6:00pm.
The Nutcracker – December 11-23, 2021 | Carpenter Theatre at Dominion Energy Center, 600 E Grace St, Richmond, VA 23219
- Saturday, December 11th, 2021 2:00pm and 7:00pm
- Sunday, December 12th, 2021 1:00pm and 4:30pm
- Saturday, December 18th, 2021 2:00pm and 7:00pm
- Sunday, December 19th, 2021 1:00pm and 4:30pm
- Wednesday, December 22nd, 2021 7:00pm
- Thursday, December 23rd, 2021 2:00pm
Health & Safety Protocols
Upon entering the theatre, all audience members ages 12 and above are required to show printed or digital proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 or of a professionally-administered negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of the performance. Patrons ages 18 and above will also need to show a photo ID. All patrons ages 2 and above are required to wear a mask at all times while in Dominion Energy Center, except when eating and drinking in specified locations. Please note that proof of vaccination or of a negative COVID test is not required for children under the age of 12.
VMFA acquires work by abstract painter Alma Thomas
Painting complements works by African American and women artists and artists of the Washington Color School.
The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) recently acquired Forsythia and Pussy Willows Begin Spring (1970), a painting by African American artist Alma Thomas (1891–1978).
“We are delighted that Forsythia and Pussy Willows Begin Spring has joined VMFA’s Modern and Contemporary art holdings,” said Alex Nyerges, VMFA’s Director and CEO. “Alma Thomas was a major contributor to 20th-century art. Her nature-based paintings significantly influenced artists who came after her, and her vibrantly colored canvases resonate with viewers today.”
Born in Columbus, Georgia, during the Jim Crow Era, Alma Woodsey Thomas and her family moved to Washington D.C., where more educational and economic opportunities were available for African Americans. By 1921, Thomas enrolled in art instruction courses at Howard University and, by 1924, became the program’s first graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in fine arts. After receiving her Master of Arts degree in education from Columbia University in the 1930s, Thomas taught at Shaw Junior High School in Washington D.C. for 35 years before retiring in 1960 and devoting herself to painting full time.
Thomas had earlier eschewed abstract art in favor of figurative and still life painting. By the 1960s however, when studying at American University in Washington D.C., she admired and responded to the abstract paintings created by Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland and other contemporaries in the Washington Color School. This loosely affiliated group of painters applied luminous colorful hues by staining and soaking their raw canvases with thinned oil or acrylic paint.
In 1972, Thomas became the first African American woman artist to have a solo exhibition at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art. She was also the first African American woman artist to have her work acquired and displayed in the White House after former First Lady Michelle Obama selected two paintings, Watusi (Hard Edge) and Sky Light, installed on loan to the White House in 2009, before the landmark acquisition in 2015 of Thomas’s 1966 painting Resurrection. Thomas’s works are featured in many museum collections including the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the National Gallery of Art. Her work is the subject of the current nationally touring retrospective entitled Alma Thomas: Everything Is Beautiful.
“Acquiring a painting by Alma Thomas has long been a priority for the museum. We patiently waited for an iconic work and are delighted to bring this vibrant visual echo of Thomas’ garden into our collection,” said Valerie Cassel Oliver, VMFA’s Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. “Forsythia and Pussy Willows Begin Spring will complement VMFA’s existing holdings of work by African American and women artists, artists of the Washington Color School, as well as the canon’s celebrated masters of abstraction Norman Lewis, Henri Matisse and Wassily Kandinsky, whom Thomas noted as significant influences.”
The painting, from Thomas’s Earth series, is a classic example of the unique painting style she developed after encountering the work of the Washington Color School. Her technique of placing precise dabs of vibrant color in a succession of vertical, hyphenated stripes conveys the beauty of a colorful flower garden. The palette of warm browns, fresh greens, bright blues and sunny yellows evokes the blooming flowers, petals, grass, tree trunks and clear skies the artist could see from her bay window, which overlooked the garden at her home at 1530 Fifteenth Street in Washington D.C.
“Alma Thomas applied her radiant colors in a series of vertical, staccato brushstrokes in Forsythia and Pussy Willows Begin Spring to capture, in abstract terms, the beauty and rhythms of the natural world, including the flowers in her garden,” said Dr. Michael Taylor, VMFA’s Chief Curator and Deputy Director for Art and Education. “The white gesso ground that breaks up both the lines and bold touches of color not only helps to organize the composition’s rendering of the diverse shapes and colors of the natural environment, but also illuminates the scene and suggests sunlight peeking through the flowers and leaves. We believe that this joyful painting will be a landmark purchase for VMFA and an iconic work for our visitors to see and enjoy.”
Dominion Energy Christmas Parade is this Saturday
The weather forecast is looking pretty perfect for Saturday. It’s predicted to be mostly sunny with highs in the 60s.
The Dominion Energy Christmas Parade kicks off at the Science Museum of Virginia at 10:15 AM. Traveling eastbound on Broad Street, the parade will conclude at 7th Street near the Richmond Coliseum. The parade also airs LIVE on WTVR CBS6.
Over the years, the Richmond Christmas Parade has been known by several names. From the 1950s to 1974, the event was known as the Thalhimers’ Toy Parade. After a 15-year hiatus, the parade was resurrected by the Richmond Jaycees. For 17 years, Ukrop’s Supermarket was the title sponsor until the beloved Richmond icon was sold in 2009. Dominion Energy saved the Christmas Parade in 2010, becoming the next title sponsor, and the parade has been known as the Dominion Energy Christmas Parade ever since.
Over the years, the Richmond Christmas Parade has celebrated a fabulous lineup of grand marshals! Numerous Richmond locals have been featured including NFL Football Player Willie Lanier (1984), The Walking Dead Actor Chad Coleman (2014), and American Idol Finalist Rayvon Owen (2015). Childhood favorites have also made appearances, such as Mickey and Minnie Mouse (2000), Spongebob Squarepants (2002), Disney’s Aaron Carter (2004), and the Harlem Globetrotters (2009). And who could forget when Paul Simon, Steve Martin, and Chevy Chase took over the Christmas Parade to film a music video in 1991?
This year Snoopy is the Grand Marshall and the parade theme is “Bringing Back the Fun in 2021!” The lineup will feature the usual colorful floats, giant helium balloons, college marching bands, local dance troupes, Legendary Santa, and much more! Honorary Grand Marshals include JMU Softball Pitcher Odicci Alexander and Coach Loren LaPorte. Alexander was the starting pitcher for James Madison University from 2017 to 2021, leading the team to their first-ever Women’s College World Series in 2021. She was also named Softball America’s 2021 NCAA Pitcher of the Year.
The route of the parade is below so start planning your ideal viewing spot.
No conversation about the parade would be complete without showing this video of Rudolph meeting a tragic end in 2010.