Monticello Road is a community arts project in Charlottesville, Virginia. Through photography and a series of public events and conversations, we explore how an art can be an essential, integral and everyday part of a healthy community.

About | Summary | Events | Media | Backers | Contact/Sign Up | Donate

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Feeling the Love

I didn't re-rock the Boston Marathon as I had vowed (travel schedule conflict) but I ran well in the Charlottesville Half. Fifth place and a huge personal best on a very challenging course. Very satisfactory.

Here's what made it great though. First of all several people who love me helped out from Toots' awesome pasta dinner and chocolate breakfast bites that fueled the run to Meredith and Sebastian waiting at the finish line. They certainly made me feel like a winner. The other thing I'll always remember is the dream I had the night before. After the usual pre-race tossing and turning I drifted into a deep sleep and dreamt that I ran super-well, took third place and picked up some prize money. It was like an angel leaned over and whispered in my ear, "Relax: you got this."

I'm surrounded by people who love me and I have a second reservoir of love coming from the inside. That's the result of good parenting and the one love cannot really be separated from the other.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

April is one of the most amazing parts of the Natural Calendar and I’ve missed it the past few years by being trapped in the City. Here at Springtree it’s been soggy, misty, and lovely—like living inside a Nick Drake song. Everywhere things are sprouting from the ground or blooming from the trees. There is a very healthy tulip poplar along the walkway from one house to the other and it’s just exploding with vitality. I can easily see the progression from hour to hour as its leaves slowly, but visibly, unfurl. The orchards and forests and woods and roadside pastures are just riots of color.

Such a blessing to be here for Easter and to mark Spring’s arrival. Spring is the least assertive/aggressive of the seasons. She doesn’t seem to mind all that much if you don’t notice her presence—or her passage. Sebastian and I have been fortunate to be able to explore some of the wonderful things about spring that are so easily missed: violets in the grass, babies in nests, trees adorned in blossoms, the garden starting to show the first sprouts that will be the summer’s cornucopia.

When I was a child my mother would take me on walks through the woods and tell me about maypole dances and other pagan celebrations that we’ve somehow managed to lose. But Springtime endures, even if we don’t know how to celebrate it properly. She does her thing every year, quite in the open, and we are always invited to join in the bliss. Even if we as a people don’t take much time to savor it, I will make sure that I breathe deeply. And my child will know it as well.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Williamsburg to Williamsburg

William and Mary's campus is just ridiculously beautiful. I felt sorry for the prospective students. It should be illegal to be so captivating. There's something to be said, though, for living in a beautiful place. That Williamsburg be more different from Williamsburgh BK.

It took me almost two hours to get from my apartment to the Holland Tunnel. Somehow, I managed to stay really calm and relaxed and did not join the futile klaxon chorus. I was officially on vacation. Finally, within feet of the tunnel’s waiting mouth I got pulled over and issued a $110 ticket for blocking the box (which of course I wasn’t).

Since the City Fathers cannot seem to win the toll-bridge tug-of-war with its residents, they seem to have reassigned the traffic cops from their former duty of moving traffic to the more feudal job of collecting tribute money for overland passage. The squeegee guy I had met half a block earlier was a lot friendlier. My primal yell: “I [no not love] New York!”

By comparison, I-95 was just gorgeous and a pleasure to spend time with, especially as I moved through Virginia. Everywhere flowers: in the trees, in the woods, and on the median strip. It was like driving through a tunnel of pink and white and the pale green of early foliage. Forsythia and tulip magnolia, followed by redbud, dogwood, crab apple, cherry, and a thousand others I could not identify. All the way from Wiliamsburg (BK) to Williamsburg (VA) I breathed easy and clean. Happy.

I unloaded my drawings at the Mascarelle and took a walk around my old stomping grounds at William and Mary for the first time in about ten years. Again, I was pretty surprised. Not by the beautiful co-eds (I had remembered them) but by how studious everyone is there: quite different than from what one encounters around NYU or Columbia. Definitely not fashion victims, I could see how I had fit in and why a parent would want their kids there. The $10,000 tuition+room+board part does not hurt either. The students don’t seem too distracted by the redcoats mustering across the street with their fifes and drums and occasional musket shots. It really is a little bit surreal but so calm it’s almost sedative (which, to my recollection, was the chief complaint.)

I felt a little sorry for the many groups of prospective students touring campus on such a perfect day. The combination of rigor, charm, and value is difficult to resist, especially with Spring in full explosion and Primavera definitely rules that place.

Even the police are friendly down there. I literally would not have made it to Charlottesville had it not been for a friendly Fluvanna County sheriff who told me how to fool my car into thinking its alternator was not shot long enough to limp to my destination.

Now that I’m here, it’s all about renewal: rest for the body and fresh air for the spirit. It’s Springtime in full force, with birds and bees and flowers and April showers.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

My newest drawing

Venerablis. Charcoal on painted birch plywood, 48" x 48" 2009

Here's the latest in my series of big tree drawings. It brings together so much that is good about the earlier ones and goes much. much further. In fact, the other day I had one of the earlier ones leaning against the wall along side so I could photograph it and I was almost embarrassed. Well, you want them to each be better than the previous.

I am especially pleased because this is part of the group of six major pieces that are going to William and Mary for their new law library. The drawings are meditations on wisdom, persistence, aspiration, ancientness, awe, and quiet power. I could hardly imagine a better or more appropriate setting than a library. I hope they impart something in today's scholars and tomorrows leaders.

I'm also really grateful to William and Mary for choosing my work in the first place, but for allowing me to include a work that was very much in progress at the time of selection.