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Arts & Entertainment

VisArts illustrator-in-residence Oura Sananikone on this season’s class catalog and what drives his work

Each year, VisArts selects four artists to serve as illustrators-in-residence. The winter 2023 catalog was illustrated by Oura Sananikone, whose work includes painting, comics, zines, action figures, plush art, animation, and music.

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The Visual Arts Center of Richmond (VisArts), one of the area’s premier arts organizations, offering more than 1,000 visual and creative arts classes in clay, wood, fiber, painting, photography, and much more, is preparing to launch its winter catalog of classes. This winter, over 250 adult, youth, and family art classes will be offered to members and the public alike. This season, the center has over 75 brand-new classes scheduled in a variety of media.

Each year, VisArts selects four artists to serve as illustrators-in-residence. Each artist illustrates a catalog and is invited to lead a workshop on the topic of their choice. The winter 2023 catalog was illustrated by Oura Sananikone. Oura’s work includes (but is not limited to) painting, comics, zines, action figures, plush art, animation, and music.

He has exhibited all over Richmond and currently has work at Velocity Comics, Toy Lair–the shop he helped open in Carytown–and his Threadless Artist Shop. Oura graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2000.

Our conversation with Oura on what inspires and drives his artwork, as well as his creative process, follows below.

What inspired you to start illustrating?

I’ve never really thought of myself as an “illustrator,” which is funny because I’ve had more illustration jobs than I realized. Ever since I was a kid, all I’ve ever wanted to do is to make art all the time. My grandmother was a huge inspiration. She would do these beautiful watercolor and ink pieces of Laotian life constantly. I guess, in a way, she showed me the virtues of hard work and sticking to your personal vision.

What inspires your work?

Sometimes I feel like everything I see inspires me or influences me in some way: comics, cartoons, zines, other people’s sketchbooks, trips to museums or galleries, street art, fashion, toys, package design, trash by a dumpster, video games, and this new-fangled art being done by artificial intelligence.

How did you get involved with (or learn about) the Featured Illustrator program at VisArts?

I had secretly wanted to illustrate a VisArts class catalog for a while, and when I saw the application for it, I had to at least try. I’m so very glad I did!

Describe your creative process.

My process of creating art is pretty irregular, it seems. Sometimes I do sketches and thumbnails, but there are occasions when the image I had in mind just comes out fully formed. If I get stuck, I usually do a Google search, and that helps come up with different poses or compositions. I am typically sitting on my couch with my iPad late at night when my family is asleep.

What was the inspiration behind the 2022 Winter catalog design?

It’s funny I mentioned AI art before, but I suppose subconsciously, I was thinking about that when brainstorming for the catalog. I would like to think my robots are a little more soulful but who’s to say? Also, I just like drawing robots.
What past projects are you most proud of? Do you have any exciting upcoming projects?

I am ecstatic that I finally made packs of my own trading cards. I’ve been thinking about it for a long time and realized there was absolutely nothing stopping me from doing it all myself. It’s been a lot of work, and I’m definitely still learning, but they look pretty ok.

What class/workshops (if any) will you be teaching at VisArts this Winter?

Hopefully, I will be teaching my One Screen, Endless Possibilities screen printing class again. It’s always a fun time, and I am always inspired by what others bring to the table. I’ve also proposed a new Artventure class on drawing Pokémon comics!

Members of the Visual Arts Center of Richmond can register for winter classes starting at 9:00 AM on Wednesday, November 9th. Registration opens to the general public at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, November 16. Members can register online, over the phone, or at VisArts’ front desk. For more information about becoming a VisArts member, visit the join page.

EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story stated that Oura sold his artwork at local shop Oddballs.

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

Arts & Entertainment

Punks for Presents Tickets on Sale Now

Punk music shows that provide presents for kids in need is a truly worthy cause.

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A Richmond punk rock Christmas tradition beginning in 2005. Christmas themed punk and metal parody bands putting on shows for charity every year!

You can learn more on Instagram or Facebook. Their still looking for prize donations and sponsors. Head over to one of those social media spots and drop them a DM.

Lineup

December 9, 2022 NIGHT 1 – THE CAMEL $10 ALL AGES
https://www.etix.com/ticket/p/5838562/punks-for-presents-at-the-camel-richmond-the-camel
IMAGINARY TOYS (THE CURE)
TOY DIVISION (JOY DIVISION)
X-MAS (X)
JOLLY HOLLY (BUDDY HOLLY)

December 10, 2022 NIGHT 2 – WONDERLAND $10 21+
https://www.etix.com/ticket/p/8522910/punks-for-presents-at-wonderland-richmond-wonderland
ROCKET QUEEN (GUNS N ROSES)
SMOOCH (KISS)
MERRYDETH (MEGADETH)

December 16, 2022 NIGHT 3 – RICHMOND MUSIC HALL $10 ALL AGES
https://www.etix.com/ticket/p/2384207/punks-for-presents-at-richmond-music-hall-richmond-richmond-music-hall
YOOL (TOOL)
SNO TEMPLE PILOTS (STONE TEMPLE PILOTS)
HIGH VOLTAGE (AC/DC)
SMASHING PRESENTS (SMASHING PUMPKINS
)SNOASIS (OASIS)

December 17, 2022 NIGHT 4 – HARDYWOOD $10 ALL AGES
https://www.etix.com/ticket/p/4831118/punks-for-presents-at-hardywood-richmond-hardywood
OPERATION ICY (OPERATION IVY)
DEC.ENDENTS (DESCENDENTS)
MXPXMAS (MXPX)
SALT, SWEAT, SUGAR-COOKIES (JIMMY EAT WORLD)
RUDOLPH THE RED NOSED REIN-QUEERS (THE QUEERS)
KRIS LITTLE KRINGLES (STIFF LITTLE FINGERS)

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Arts & Entertainment

VMFA announces upcoming exhibition “Isaac Julien: Lessons of the Hour — Frederick Douglass”

“We are thrilled to have Lessons of the Hour — Frederick Douglass in VMFA’s collection,” said Cassel Oliver. “Frederick Douglass’ powerful orations and the innovative and captivating cinematography of Issac Julien will help visitors better understand Douglass’ legacy and the relevance to our contemporary experience.”

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The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) this week announced the multi-screen film installation Isaac Julien: Lessons of the Hour — Frederick Douglass, on view at the museum in Richmond from December 10, 2022 through July 9, 2023. The installation is organized by Valerie Cassel Oliver, VMFA’s Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art.

“The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is delighted to present this compelling work about Frederick Douglass, one of the most significant figures in American history,” said Alex Nyerges, VMFA’s Director and CEO. “Through his advocacy in abolition and women’s suffrage, he called on the nation to make important reforms and embrace human rights, regardless of race or gender.”

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts will present the film as an immersive ten-screen experience as envisioned by its creator, internationally renowned London-born artist and filmmaker, Sir Isaac Julien. The work is a poetic meditation on the great abolitionist and features a series of vignettes from Douglass’ life prior to and during his travel to the United Kingdom in 1841. Using arresting visuals and sound, Julien brings the historical figure to life and collapses time and space to bridge history with the persistent concerns of our day.

“We are thrilled to have Lessons of the Hour — Frederick Douglass in VMFA’s collection,” said Cassel Oliver. “Frederick Douglass’ powerful orations and the innovative and captivating cinematography of Issac Julien will help visitors better understand Douglass’ legacy and the relevance to our contemporary experience.”

Douglass is portrayed by Shakespearean actor Ray Fearon in a series of fragmented scenes that are woven with spoken word, photography and contemporary footage to make the historic figure’s modern-day relevance and resonance undeniable. The 25-minute installation, which appears on multiple screens where images converge as a whole and then fragment into a montage, can be watched repeatedly, welcoming visitors to sit in the meditative space for a nonlinear viewing experience that makes each encounter with the work unique.

The installation also includes three tintype portraits — a collaboration between Julien and photographer Rob Ball — of the film’s subjects, Frederick Douglass, his wife Anna Murray Douglass and prominent African-American photographer J. P. Ball. Douglass was aware that words and images had powerful meaning. He used media, specifically photography, to counter the misperceptions of Black people in 19th-century America. Through a lifelong collaboration with Ball, Douglass had portraits taken of himself, portraying the Black body as noble and beautiful, and became the most photographed individual of the century.

The world premiere of the rare ten-screen film installation of Isaac Julien: Lessons of the Hour — Frederick Douglass took place in 2019, at the Memorial Art Gallery at the University of Rochester, which commissioned the film and partnered with VMFA to acquire the work for both museums’ permanent collections.

For more information about Isaac Julien: Lessons of the Hour — Frederick Douglass and programs related to the exhibition, visit www.VMFA.museum.

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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

Catch the Holiday Spirit at Maymont with Christmas tours, wreath workshops and a Merry Market

Check out the historic mansion decked out for the holidays, get your shopping done, and enjoy a merry good time at Maymont this holiday season.

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There’s no place like Maymont for the holidays, and something for everyone at the estate this time of year. First, starting November 18 through January 1, 2023, a special Christmas-themed audio tour will be offered at Maymont Mansion, which will be decorated for the season in Victorian style. The self-guided tour provides insights into the high pomp — and hard work — of holiday entertaining during the Gilded Age.

Second, the public is invited to create their own fresh evergreen wreaths in one of seven hands-on Wreath Workshops, Tuesday, November 29 – Saturday, December 3, under the expert guidance of Maymont staff. And a new event, Merry Market, Friday, December 2 & Saturday, December 3, celebrates winter with a two-day, pop-up holiday market of 50 local artisans, plus cozy fire pits, a festive holiday bar, live music, crafts for kids and a chance to take a selfie with Saint Nicholas.

The highlight of Merry Market is shopping for locally crafted, and imported handmade gifts in an outdoor marketplace surrounded by historic buildings draped in fresh evergreen garlands and twinkling lights on the Carriage House Lawn. Shoppers can stay fueled up with something tasty from the festive holiday bar and food vendors, and warm up around fire pits and outdoor heaters, while an a cappella vocal group and a jazz combo set the mood. Kids can make their own handmade gifts and decorations and snap a photo with Saint Nicholas.

Artisans will be selling a variety of hand-crafted accessories, décor, and housewares that make thoughtful gifts for the holidays. Among the offerings are stained glass artworks by KiYay Studios, pottery by Tana Makes, art prints by Laura Marr/FlourishRVA, fair-trade décor and accessories selected and imported by one little world, handmade jewelry by Bee is for Bead, gifts for nature lovers by Rabbit & Wren, handmade fabric products from India imported by Asha project, art by Abuelita’s, custom polymer jewelry by SassyHappy, woodworking by Southside Sawdust, plus, hand embroidery, candles, soaps, knitwear, pet treats and accessories, and much more!

“Merry Market is a chance for the community to celebrate the season with friends and neighbors in the unique historic setting at Maymont,” said Parke Richeson, Executive Director. “With live music, holiday lights, cozy fire pits, and crafts for kids, everyone will enjoy relaxing on the Carriage House Lawn along with a little holiday shopping with local small businesses and craftspeople.”

Saint Nicholas will be available for photos with the family, and children can also make their own gifts and holiday decorations at the crafts tent. A selection of food, desserts, hot coffee, cocoa, and other beverages will be available for separate purchase from food vendors, including Goatocado, The Cocky Rooster, Monique’s Crepes, Timber Pizza, and Pops Kettle Corn. The festive holiday bar will serve red wine and holiday craft beers to guests ages 21 and over.

Merry Market tickets may be purchased in advance or at the gate for $10 per person; $5 for children ages 3 – 12; and free for children ages 2 and under. Maymont members enjoy free admission. Guests who present an EBT card receive discounted tickets for $3 (on-site only) through the Museums for All program. All proceeds benefit Maymont.

Please note: Maymont will close at 4 pm on Friday, December 2, and 1 pm on Saturday, December 3, to prepare for Merry Market. Guests will enter Merry Market through the Historic Estate entrance at 1700 Hampton Street. Event parking is available at the Historic Estate parking lot and The Robins Nature Center, in addition to street parking. The Maymont Farm entrance is closed for the event. Merry Market takes place entirely outdoors, rain or shine, except in the case of severe weather. Guests are advised to wear weather-appropriate clothing and footwear suited for an outdoor lawn.

The Wreath Workshops tend to fill up in advance and include wreath supplies and refreshments, but guests are advised to bring their own snippers and gardening gloves. On Friday and Saturday, Dec. 2-3, Wreath Workshop admission ($55 per person, $41 for members) includes admission to Merry Market. Times vary; visit the events calendar for details.

Holiday Audio Tours are $8 per person, $6 for children ages 3 – 12, and free for Maymont Members and Museums for All participants.

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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