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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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Trevor Dickerson is the Editor and Co-Founder of RVAHub.

Arts & Entertainment

Vendor Applications Open for Richmond Folk Festival

Want to get your arts, crafts, or food in front of thousands for 3 three days in a row? Apply now.

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What’s a Richmond Folk Festival without great food and crafts? Applications are now being accepted for both Food Vending (Due March 31) and for the Craft Marketplace (Due April 7). Spread the word!

FOOD VENDORS

We strive to bring the best in ethnic, regional and traditional foods to delight guests and showcase a wide variety of tempting foods to complement the spirit of the festival. From classic festival fare to exotic flavors from far-flung places around the globe, everyone is sure to find something to love. You’ll have a tough time deciding between Thai, German, Indian and much more. Download guidelines and applications here.

CRAFTS MARKETPLACE

The Marketplace features artisans selling handcrafted and traditional items. Subjects range from jewelry, specialty items, and original artwork. Download guidelines and applications here.

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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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Arts & Entertainment

RiverRock Announce Who Will Rock the River

Dominion Energy Riverrock, the nation’s premier outdoor sports and music festival, announced today the full list of music acts performing at this year’s festival

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Dominion Energy Riverrock, the nation’s premier outdoor sports and music festival, announced today the full list of music acts performing at this year’s festival. The 2023 lineup features national and regional talent taking the stage the weekend of May 19-21 as Dominion Energy Riverrock returns to Brown’s Island. The complete music and event schedule is now available at www.RiverrockRVA.com, and registration for participatory sporting events is open as well.

Dominion Energy Riverrock will open on Friday, May 19 with participatory sporting events, including the Belle Isle Blitz 5k-ish Trail Run and the MTB Time Trial ride. The fun continues Saturday with the Monsters of the James Fishing Tournament, James River Scramble (10kish), MTB Enduro ride, Kayak Boatercross, and SUP Cross. For the final day of the festival people can take part in the Bust the Banks Half Marathon or Down River Paddle. The Subaru Ultimate Air Dogs competition, Photo Contest, and Video Contest will take place throughout the weekend.

Kicking things off on stage at 6:30 p.m. Friday evening, May 19, will be The National Reserve, a beloved Brooklyn band whose music is a mix of R&B, New Orleans funk, rock, and soul. They will be followed by the Kitchen Dwellers, one of the festival’s headlining bands. The Montana quartet has amassed over five million streams and has been critically acclaimed nationally for their unique twist on bluegrass.

The lineup on Saturday, May 20 showcases several local Richmond artists. Willie DE starts the afternoon entertainment at 1:00 p.m. Flight Club then takes the stage at 2:00 p.m. with a mix of the music they grew up on, gritty blues, classic rock, and punk. Pharaoh Sistare brings back a style reminiscent of James Brown and Prince at 3:15 p.m and Erin & the Wildfire will treat festival goers to their brand of soul and indie-pop at 4:30 p.m. Sierra Hull will be the first headliner on Saturday. Hull made her Grand Ole Opry debut at age 10 and has continued to break records and earn accolades throughout the bluegrass community. She will take the stage at 6:15 p.m. followed by Neal Francis at 8:00 p.m. Francis’ new album Sentimental Garbage has him touring across the country showcasing his alternative indie hits. Sunday performances include Justin Golden, Cosmic Collective, and will wrap up with some high-octane Appalachian folk from 49 Winchester. All performances at Dominion Energy Riverrock are free and open to the public.

“We’re very excited about this year’s musical line up for Dominion Energy Riverrock,” said Stephen Lecky, Director of Events for Venture Richmond. “We feel that this year has a rich mix of not only local and national acts, but a variety of styles that are guaranteed to appeal to all music fans. We have no doubt that these artists will enhance the outdoor atmosphere along the James River and are sure to be a highlight of the festival.”

Dominion Energy Riverrock Music Lineup

Friday, May 19

Time – Band
6:30 p.m. The National Reserve
8:00 p.m. Kitchen Dwellers

Saturday, May 20

Time – Band
1:00 p.m. Willie DE
2:00 p.m. Flight Club
3:15 p.m. Pharaoh Sistare
4:30 p.m. Erin & the Wildfire
6:15 p.m. Sierra Hull
8:00 p.m. Neal Francis

Sunday, May 21

Time – Band
1:00 p.m. Justin Golden
2:20 p.m. Cosmic Collective
3:40 p.m. 49 Winchester

Dominion Energy Riverrock is open to the public and is free to all spectators. For event registration and further information about Dominion Energy Riverrock 2023, please visit www.riverrockrva.com.

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Arts & Entertainment

Weinstein JCC hosts 14th annual Israeli & Jewish Film Festival January 19-29

This popular film festival is dedicated to fostering an understanding of Israeli and Jewish culture as well as introducing viewers to Israel’s young but thriving film industry.

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The Weinstein JCC is set to host the 14th Annual Israeli & Jewish Film Festival from January 19-29, 2023, as part of the 2022-2023 Arts + Ideas Season. This popular film festival is dedicated to fostering an understanding of Israeli and Jewish culture as well as introducing viewers to Israel’s young but thriving film industry.

Leslie McGuigan, Director of Cultural Arts for Weinstein JCC, noted that the festival features films based upon various considerations such as awards and nominations, timely subject matter, and input from the film community. “In 2023, five films can be screened in person and two enjoyed virtually,” she said. The schedule of films with a brief synopsis and viewing times, along with information about purchasing tickets for the screenings, can be found here.

A highlight of the festival is the Jan. 22 screening of The Levys of Monticello, a documentary film directed and produced by Steven Pressman. The film focuses on the story of the Levy family’s 89-year ownership and preservation of Monticello and also tells a broader story about anti-Semitism that runs throughout the course of American history, right up to the present day. The film addresses the pivotal role that enslaved people played at Monticello, during both Thomas Jefferson’s and Uriah Levy’s years as owners. There will be a post-film discussion with filmmaker Steven Pressman, who will be joined by Phyllis K. Leffler, Emerita Professor in the Department of History at the University of Virginia.

IN PERSON SCREENINGS

Film: Fiddler’s Journey to the Big Screen

  • Date: Thurs., Jan. 19 at 6pm [dinner reception and film screening]
  • Location: Weinstein JCC, 5403 Monument Ave.
  • Price: $30 member/$35 nonmember includes pre-show dinner reception

Film: Perfect Strangers

  • Date: Sat., Jan. 21 at 7:30pm
  • Location: Weinstein JCC, 5403 Monument Ave.
  • Price: $10 member/$12 nonmember

Film: The Levys of Monticello

  • Date: Sun., Jan. 22 at 2pm
  • Location: Virginia Museum of History and Culture 428 N. Arthur Ashe Boulevard
  • Price: $10 Weinstein JCC and VMHC member/ $12 nonmember

Film: Cinema Sabaya

  • Date: Tues., Jan. 24 at 6:30pm
  • Location: The Byrd Theatre, 2908 W. Cary St.
  • Price: $10 member/$12 nonmember

Film: Valiant Hearts (in partnership with the Virginia Holocaust Museum)

  • Date: Sun., Jan. 29 at 2pm
  • Location: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 200 N. Arthur Ashe Boulevard
  • Price: $10 Weinstein JCC, VHM and VMFA member/$12 nonmember

VIRTUAL SCREENINGS

Film: Berenshtein

  • Film Viewing Window: Jan. 19-29
  • Price per household: $10 member/$12 nonmember

Film: America

  • Film Viewing Window: Jan. 19-29
  • Price per household: $10 member/$12 nonmember

For more information about Arts + Ideas programs and to purchase subscription or individual tickets, click here or contact Leslie McGuigan, [email protected].

Will you help support independent, local journalism?

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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