Birthday Weekend in Richmond, VA

(2010) What do you do when you discover on Wednesday that your best friend is having his 60th birthday party on Saturday? Well, I traded in a bunch of frequent flier miles and got a flight to RICHMOND, VA for the celebration weekend. Of course, as an Xtreme Art Tourist, I found time, between the celebrating and recovering, to see some Art in Richmond.

There wasn’t much time, but I’d love to share with you what I saw, beginning with the Haskell Gallery at the Jacksonville (FL) airport. The show was a group exhibit by sculptors David Ponsler, Enzo Tocoletti, and David Engdahl. Sculpture works very well in the L-shaped gallery, and the quality was outstanding.

David Engdahl
Also Engdahl

The travel, preparation, and the big party took up Saturday, and recovery took a bit of Sunday, but I had the opportunity to visit with Richmond sculptor Paul DiPasquale. I have known Paul’s work for many years and enjoyed seeing the massive Connecticut at the Diamond, when the Braves played there, and the Headman down on Brown’s Island. There were problems as to what was to become of CT, since the Braves left town.

Paul’s most recent success was the thirty-four foot high sculpture of Neptune on Virginia Beach. The casting of the bronze, which was done in China, was very complex, very difficult, and filled with intrigue. The story of this adventure was documented on a dvd, exposing middlemen who forced shoddy workmanship and outright improper casting.

Birthday Boy was the face model.

Inside Paul’s house was Diana, a sculpture from his post-grad days. The blue-skinned dancer was grabbing the Bar. Or was it the athlete preparing to throw a lance?

Upstairs in the hallway was a man in a bathtub. I’m sorry I couldn’t get the tub’s feet into the shot, but they are the ball & claw feet, letting go of the balls as the tub morphs and the subject zones out. Contemplating his big toe.

Out in the workshop/studio, we looked at some of Paul’s Ears, as well as a few pieces he has done utilizing destroyed guns that were used in the commission of a crime.

Paul's civic involvement includes committees such as the one keeping oversight on any proposed tree removal. So we (with the dogs Calvin and Lisa) drove the short distance where two other committee members were already examining the roots of the three big sycamore trees the City wanted removed.

Before Neptune, Paul did a monument for Arthur Ashe on Monument Avenue. For those of you not aware, Monument Avenue was named as such because of the monumental statuary of individuals espousing the Confederate cause. There were those who thought that the integration was a bad thing.

It was an impressive display of Ashe bestowing his gifts of knowledge and athletics to the kids. All out of reach of the vandals.

The birthday celebration resumed on Sunday afternoon, so it wasn’t until Monday that we went to see the new wing of the Virginia Museum of Art. Everything looks so different as a large parking garage was built as well as the new wing, which was where the old sculpture garden used to be. The new SG was under construction. But there was a nice display by Jun Kaneko both outside and in the Cochrane Atrium which connects the new part and the old, and serves as the new entrance.

Out front, on the Boulevard was Arches and Column by Lee Kelly:

I took a few of photos of Art that caught my eye and put most of them in another file. Click here to see them.

Mars Orange and Green by Arthur Dove, 1935
Tor by David Schneil, 2005

My time in Richmond was coming to an end, but we stopped along the way to shoot a couple more pieces of Art:

Reconciliation Triangle on East Main Street, was an interesting story. In 1990, three thirteen-foot bronze sculptures by Stephen Broadbent were erected in Liverpool, England; Glasgow, Scotland; and Belfast, Northern Ireland, as part of an act of contrition for the cities' participation in the abomination of selling and buying human beings. In 2004, Reconciliation Statues were presented to representatives from Cotonou, Benin and Richmond, Virginia, which were unveiled in 2007, completing the triangular trade route of countries involved in slave trading.

Nearby was another piece that hung from the underside of Interstate 95, as it went high over the city of Richmond. Under the artwork were old train rails, and under them was a canal. The sculpture was supposed to represent the three modes of transportation.

And finally, I thought I’d include a little of the Art around my friend’s place.

And this piece by Rudy Heller:

Of course, there was much more Art in Richmond, from Virginia Commonwealth University's School of Art to the many galleries all over the city.  Perhaps in the future I can do another installment.

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