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.

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Friday, December 23, 2011

Monticello Road Photo Booth Coming to Spudnuts

Update: Due to extreme slowness in the doughnut trade during the holiday week, we have rescheduled the photo booth for Tuesday, January 3, 10:30-12:30. Hope we see you there!

The third photo booth should be the coolest of them all: we’re going to Spudnuts!

If you live/work/play/travel along Monticello Road stop by Spudnuts on Thursday December 29, between 10:30 and 12:30, get your photo taken and receive a free print on the spot.

Our impromtu photo booths at the Bridge and La Taza were great fun and this promises to be even better (because there will be doughnuts).

Lori’s excited about the project and so am I. I hope to see you there!

Spudnuts is located at the corner of Avon and Monticello Road, Charlottesville VA.

Monticello Road is a photography and story-telling project about the people and places along a mile-long byway that is simultaneously humble and historic, home to many and a reflection of us all. There will be an exhibition and much more in the Spring of 2012.

More Profiles | Project Description | More Photos: Places | People | Photo Booth I | Photo Booth II

Friday, December 16, 2011

The People of Monticello Road: Holiday Edition

Not all of the gems along Monticello Road are hidden. In fact, one of them is so visible that it causes people to exit the nearby interstate to investigate.

On evenings in December, there is a steady stream of cars and families rolling up to visit Santa or to stroll wonder-struck through his amazing menagerie of lights and inflatables. It's really unparalleled, though his neighbor bids fair with his own over-the-top holiday decorations. (see Ross McDermott's excellent documentary on the mostly-friendly rivalry).

It's a cool place to hang out--quite litterally so. The Santa/proprietor (who's known as Jeff during the rest of the year) attributes his compound's noticably chilly temperature to the scores of fans needed to keep the blow-ups inflated. I suspect there might also be some North Pole magic involved as well.

It isn't sorcery that illuminates the thousands of bulbs or keeps those fans blowing however. Jeff spends thousands of dollars of his own cash (plus the pittance in his tip jar). That--and the incredible time he puts in--is his holiday gift to the world, freely given.

So that slight chill you feel does come from the spirit of Christmas in a very real way--along with the peppermint candy cane he hands you on your way out.

Jeff's holiday menagerie is located at the bottom of the Monticello Road, behind the gas station--close to I-64.

Monticello Road is a photography and story-telling project about the people and places along a mile-long byway that is simultaneously humble and historic, home to many and a reflection of us all. There will be an exhibition and much more in the Spring of 2012.

More Profiles | Project Description | More Photos: Places | People | Photo Booth I | Photo Booth II

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Monticello Road Update #1: Exhibition Details

We're hoping to get Adam Larrabie (left) to play at the opening.

As we approach 2012, we can announce some more details about the exhibition.

The show at the Bridge PAI will take place from Friday April 6 (Opening Reception) to Friday, April 27.

Most of the images are already printed and heading to the framer. I will add a few more as we get closer and I keep working. There will be 25-30 archival, editioned, prints plus a slideshow of the portraits from our site visits and photo booths. [Previews here, here, here, and here] There will also be a hardback book, which is currently in the design phase.

During the course of the exhibit, we will have at many corollary events. Here is a minimal list; exact dates to come:

Story Night. We will invite a diverse group of characters to give perspectives on how Monticello Road has changed. We will record these histories to share in the future.

Movie Night: Still Life with Doughnuts. A documentary by Mark Edwards and Mary Michaud (two Monticello Road residents) about the neighborhood. They will talk about their project.

Architecture Night: Architecture Week falls during the course of this exhibition and we hope to bring together a panel of architects and urban planners to discuss this unique thoroughfare.

Q&A with John Trippel, plein air neighborhood artist. John Trippel works on site, documenting the neighborhood in oil paint and he has many interesting perspectives.

Clark Elementary Art Club Visit: Date tbd

There’s a lot going on and we expect to add more. Please stay tuned!

Monticello Road Update #2: Time for the Next Stage

This neighborhood is very culturally rich. People like Christian DeBaun--one of the prime movers behind the Charlottesville Photography Initiative--have tremendously much to offer besides being willing subjects.

I had an amazing talk with, Lulu Miller, a kick-@$$ writer/story-teller/oral-historian who lives in the neighborhood. The discussion made me realize that the project is ready for its next stage.

Not only does Lulu completely understand what we’re doing and why but on a fundamental level she appreciates the profound ocean of interesting experience behind every portrait. It would be great to have voices to go with the faces, but it’s not really my specialty. It is hers though!

This has been the plan all along: to open it up to a wider collaboration beyond myself. I have been biding my time in assembling the team to expand the project in this way. Three intertwined forces are coming together that make the moment ripe.

1. The project is now mature. There is a very, very substantial body of images—more than enough for the exhibit, book, and whatever else we want to do—and it is growing all the time. We have a respectable platform in the Bridge and lots of media interest. Our work will definitely be seen/heard.

2. The project has a significant network of sources, plenty of interviews just waiting to happen and access and street-cred that will open many more doors as well.

3. Developing these networks has brought us into contact with some very impressive and skilled potential collaborators. The past year of pounding the pavement has honed the message so it is clear, finite, and compelling—a much easier sell to those specialists.

I told Lulu that the past year has felt like the discovery phase of a larger project and as the photography piece begins to take physical form, it is time to plan the next, wider step.

In the next few weeks, we’ll be recruiting collaborators and looking at—and beyond—the April exhibition into ways to extend the venture beyond our existing plans. We’re thinking about deepening the project, doing more within the neighborhood, but also with an eye on creating a model that other people can use in other places.

Watch for some kind of summit or meet-up or feel free to contact me with your thoughts, ideas, and volunteerist enthusiasm. This project is all about Community and what it means to inhabit a space together. It’s exciting to think about working, and growing, in concert with such impressive and interesting people.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Photo Booth Again!

Michaux and Rigel.

The second photo booth was even more fun than the first. Big thanks to Preston P. Jackson, The Bridge PAI, and the Farm Cville for all their help!

The local NBC affiliate stopped by just before the rain started. Story summary here.

View the Photos

Monticello Road is a photography and story-telling project about the people and places along a mile-long byway that is simultaneously humble and historic, home to many and a reflection of us all. There will be an exhibition and much more in the Spring of 2012.

Project Description | More Photos: Places | People | Photo Booth I

Monday, November 7, 2011

It's All About the Love

Basking in the glow with one of my favorite people: Super-Volunteer Carole, who manages the Photo Bridge. Photo: Random stranger.

The ING New York City Marathon is a gigantic expression of much that makes us human: our insane ambitiousness, the love between people standing side by side and sharing respect for a third person who is trying something difficult. It is a communal mobilization to push, pull, and carry ourselves and one another through our barriers.

From my privileged position (I typically work on the Finish Line) I can see it all in very close detail—the sweat, the tears, the blood, and some less savory things. I can step back and see the whole massive spectacle, hear the music and the cheering. I am surrounded by a band of colleagues whose fellowship has been forged in the heat (and freezing cold, rain, sleet, and pre-dawn darkness) of previous engagements with duress.

That bond is not unlike that among the runners or between them and the screaming spectators. Our struggles and triumphs are shared and they bind us to one another. Our humanity is on display like an untucked shirt and we are all wearing it together.


Here are some links to see some great photography from this year's Marathon:

Sameday "Faces" Gallery This is the best of the several galleries our in-house team threw together before the race had even finished. Links to other related galleries within.

New York Times See especially the photo galleries on the right side of the page.

Getty/AFP/SI This alliance is truly formidable--but not because it gives them alot of shooters (which is does) but this particular group shot like some all-stars.

European Press Photo These guys usually send a tiny crew but do a tremendous job... What a great photo of Geoffrey Mutai here.

Reuters A nice little slide show focused on quality instead of quantity--trust me, they had both.

Associated Press Lots to look at. Some of the world's best doing excellent work.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Photo Booth Part 2

We had such a blast at our last photo booth, we're doing it again!

If you live, work or travel on Monticello Road, please stop by our informal photo booth (part 2) on Thursday November 10, from about 8 to 11 am. We will set up outside the Bridge PAI (weather permitting), take an informal portrait, and give you a free print.

It's fun and it's social and an easy way to take part in a community-based art project.

The Bridge is located across the street from Spudnuts at 209 Monticello Road.

Hope to see you there!

Monticello Road is a photography and story-telling project about the people and places along a mile-long byway that is simultaneously humble and historic, home to many and a reflection of us all. There will be an exhibition and much more in the Spring of 2012.

Project Description | More Photos: Places | People

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Different Currency

San Angelo (For Renate) Charcoal on painted masonite, 16x30” 2011.

I find that almost everyone wants art for their home but for all that, most people seem reluctant to spend real money on it. I’ve been searching a long time for ways to change their minds about that but words and ridiculously low prices don’t seem to do the trick as well as I would like.

I don’t think it’s about the art: it’s about the money. What would happen if we take cash out of the equation? In a healthy community, we should be able to reward and support one another without passing greenbacks back and forth.

I’ve always been a big fan of the barter economy and it presents opportunities that are easily overlooked. In this case, my friends Renate and Bill wanted art for their new home, but construction costs did not exactly leave them flush with cash.

I practically live on bread and almond butter and Renate is the best baker I know, so it seemed like an opportunity. I have tons of art and it does no good in my studio and Renate bakes every few weeks: it’s no problem for her to add an extra load for me. I get a loaf every few weeks.

How do we calculate value of bread versus art?

Let us assume that we’re all equal and our time is worth equally much. Then it’s simple. I just kept track of my hours—in this case it was about thirty. Renate will consider the added time that I’m costing her make me appropriately many loaves. As for expenses, she uses fancy ingredients, so the expenses match up pretty well and actually are likely to be a little higher on her end, so she won’t need to spend 30 hours kneading and mixing.

So I’m eating better than I would and the new piece will look great in their house. The thing that pleases me most is the gifts that we are each giving each other. I think about Renate at the breakfast table and my drawing will hang next to hers.

This is an exchange we can both celebrate.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Free Photos Here

Just getting this photo of Melissa made the visit worthwhile but we accomplished much, much more.
More Photos.

In the latest step in our People of Monticello Road project, we set up an impromptu photo booth at a neighborhood café (La Taza), to try to catch as many passers by as possible. We had a portable photo printer and gave on-the-spot prints to anyone who agreed to have their picture taken.

Our larger purpose is to get art and artist out into the community and this was the fullest expression of that notion to date. We were out in the public, talking to them and making art in a way that was very transparent, in a space that was very comfortable—free from many of art’s usual barriers. There were many discussions, and much learned by all—and we managed to get some great pictures. That was no coincidence: the art came from those discussions.

We were operating without a script in uncharted territory so we didn’t really know what to expect. Because we were new at this, or shy, or whatever, we really limited ourselves to those individuals who entered the café patio and did not flag down as many random passers-by from the sidewalk as we had planned. Now that I see the importance of the interpersonal interactions and shared experience—even if just a love of java—I'm not disappointed. It’s as difficult to conjure a portrait from nothing as it would be to start a conversation from absolute scratch and then you have to wonder about the quality.

Indeed, although the whole thing was fun, the best and most useful images were from those most invested in the café: the owners and staff, who have really been champions of the project. That really validates the notion that great portraiture arises from familiarity, and the more the artist and community invest in one another, the better the results for all.

Huge thanks to Melissa and Vanessa at La Taza for letting us use their patio, and to Preston Jackson and Sarah Derr who assisted on the project.

View the Photos

Monticello Road is a photography and story-telling project about the people and places along a mile-long byway that is simultaneously humble and historic, home to many and a reflection of us all. There will be an exhibition and much more in the Spring of 2012.

Project Description | More Photos: Places | People

Monday, October 3, 2011

Photo Booth

Kate and Chloe toast the first whiff of Spring

Do you live/work/play/travel along Monticello Road? Stop by La Taza Tuesday morning (8-10 or so) our informal and impromptu photo booth. Get your picture taken, add your image to our archive of the People of Monticello Road, and take home a free print.

It’s an easy way to join a community-based art project and it’s free.

La Taza is located in Downtown Belmont at 407 Monticello Road

Monticello Road is a photography and story-telling project about the people and places along a mile-long byway that is simultaneously humble and historic, home to many and a reflection of us all. There will be an exhibition and much more in the Spring of 2012.

Project Description | More Photos: Places | People

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Financial Quandary

Sometimes, stuff's just not free.

Monticello Road is as much social experiment as art project. There are challenges related to photography and to talking our way into people’s homes and lives but perhaps the most vexing piece is figuring out a way to pay for it.

The typical model is to make art, charge a lot of money for it, and hope that enough people buy so we don’t lose our shirts. The problem is that it inserts money between art and audience and it would not serve for a project about community and dropping intrapersonal barriers to contain an economic wall at its core.

Many have contributed generous portions of their time and talents. Yet, the question of money remains: the project cannot happen without financial legs. So I pose the question to you, my audience, collaborators, and neighbors: how do we make this show happen financially, while remaining true to our values?

Here are the core economic principles any solution must address:

1. Everyone who gives their time for the project, by posing, allowing us to poke around their business, telling stories—or anything—ought to get a framed print. It need not be fancy, but it should be something that they can hang proudly on their wall.

2. The photos, books, and everything else we produce should be available to all, regardless of means. This is a project about community and if someone wants a photo of their friend, neighbor, or favorite spot, they should be able to have it. Cost should be subsidized for those in need.

3. The artist needs to be paid. Typically, the artist fronts huge expenses for materials and presentation, studio, etc. He is lucky when he breaks even. This work is important and should be compensated.

4. The venue (in this case the Bridge PAI) needs to be paid. The Bridge cannot continue its programming (or even continue to exist) without money.

5. The corollary programs (story-telling, film night, architecture talk, etc) should all be free of charge so to encourage the widest participation. At most, a token fee should be charged.

5a. Everyone must feel welcome regardless of means.

I suspect that we will employ a combination of strategies including:
  • A sliding price scale
  • Community-based fund-raising such as kick-start
  • Grants
  • Barter whenever possible (that’s how we’re paying our “models”)
  • In-kind contributions from businesses
  • A donation box
We’re completely open to suggestions for ways to make this thing work and we’re sure that this is not the last time we’ll ask for help. This is a community project and we need your skin in the game: your time, your labor, perhaps your cash, but for now, it is ideas that we’re looking for.

Monticello Road is a photography and story-telling project about the people and places along a mile-long byway that is simultaneously humble and historic, home to many and a reflection of us all. There will be an exhibition and much more in the Spring of 2012.

Project Description | More Photos: Places | People

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Temple of my Mother

My mom would want me to take my camera along on my voyage of remembrance and I'm glad I did! I was channeling something that day and I can't wait to share more of the results.

When the news of my mother’s passing went out, we received many encouraging words and offers of support. It feels really good to know that I am the opposite of alone: I have many friends who would gladly do anything I ask, no matter the reason.

There was one invitation I especially could not resist: James’ cabin in the Goshen Pass, the seat of many joyful memories, a place of terrific beauty, and not least a place where I could spend some quiet time with a very dear friend, talking over weighty (and weightless) matters.

With my family’s blessing I threw my sleeping bag and a cooler in the car and raced over the Blue Ridge with an elated spirit. Knowing I would arrive about an hour before James, I resolved to go for a run and I knew just where I wanted go: a trail called Laurel Run that follows a lovely side canyon along a mossy and steep-falling brook into the heart of the mountains. I just wanted to stretch my legs but I got more than I expected.

After climbing a few miles, the trail petered out into a secluded glen high in a sheltered amphitheater on the mountain’s shoulder. The ground was mossy damp and open, with mighty oaks soaring up to support a green canopy high above. There were no human sounds and a quiet that is not typical in Virginia—just a few crickets, distant birdsong, and the sound of acorns falling.

I had strode unexpectedly into a cathedral, of the kind my mother had often spoken longingly and there could be no better place to remember her. I walked through the trees feeling completely invigorated and in touch with all lives, both current and disappeared or even forgotten. I thought about her presence in this place, within me and everywhere.

At a moment when I was receiving encouraging notes and gifts, this was the mightiest of them all. I am grateful for whatever force called me to that particular place. Whether it was a benevolent voice from my mother or from within me or simple chance that took me there, it was exactly what I needed.

After some remembrance and contemplation, I flew down the mountain and back to the cabin, ready to celebrate. I picked up some of that bumper crop of acorns. I will plant one in my yard to remember my mother, who taught me how to walk with the trees.


I stored the acorns in a little plastic cup on my side porch. Meredith reports that some squirrels raided the place and spirited the acorns away. It looks like the job of planting them is now out of my hands. One can only hope that the squirrels buried the nuts in spots with plenty of light and that they forget a few of them, as they often do. It's an absurdity that my mom would appreciate. Meantime, I'll be on the lookout for tiny seedlings with alternate-lobed leaves.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The People of Monticello Road: Dan and Serena

There's a lot of love in this household and it conveys very well in this image. The only thing I don't like about it is that it omits my favorite guy of the bunch: Sorin

“How much garlic are you putting on the steak?”

“A lot—where I come from we worry about Vampires.”

That was a typical exchange between my friend Dan and his father-in-law Sorin, who is from Romania, as they prepared a summer feast of steak and fresh vegetables. Dan and Serena were kind enough to let me spend an evening with them, their children and Serena’s parents. It was a lively evening of conversation, jokes and a little bit of photography. Best of all, they let me stay to taste that yummy steak.

Dan and Serena live on the steep, narrow section of Monticello Road in a house that must have been chosen for its site, which affords a panoramic view of Monticello and Carter’s Mountain. Dan is an architect (Serena is a graphic designer) and the house is conceived to maximize this advantage, with the entire rear wall of the open kitchen/common room devoted to windows.

A few inventive features make a good view great. For example, no upper cabinets block the panorama (there is correspondingly more and smarter storage below); the angle of the L-shaped windows is not square, preventing a hall-of-mirrors reflection; and rooms are all reshuffled to bring the rooms where they spend the most time (such as the kitchen) into the spots where the view is most spectacular. The façade of the house is quite simple and one could easily walk past without knowing how much thought went into everything beyond that front wall.

I met Dan and Serena because their firm is helping us re-imagine our own home, so it was a treat to learn that they're neighbors and to walk into one of their projects. The thing that we like best about Dan's approach is that he focused squarely on the house we have—in fact, he was the only architect we interviewed not to recommend some elaborate addition (although his firm can do that too).

This neighborhood has never been known for its fanciness or pretension but it isn’t mean or course either. The vernacular is modest but sufficient, economical but lovely. The Zimmermans’ home is a contemporary take on the timeless notion that guides so much of what happens on this street: quality (of space, in this case) means more than quantity.

When the meat had all been devoured and it came time to steer the little ones toward bed, I thanked the gracious hosts and walked up the hill back to my own little house and family. Along the way, I thought about what a special thing we have here.

The People of Monticello Road is a weekly series of profiles that will run through the summer. Monticello Road is a photography and story-telling project about the people and places along a mile-long byway that is simultaneously humble and historic, home to many and a reflection of us all. There will be an exhibition and much more in the Spring of 2012.

Project Description | More Photos: Places | People

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The People of Monticello Road: The Local

Sam (left) is a maven of the Charlottesville Art Scene; he occasionally tends bar at the Local. On this night I ran into my studio-mate Matt and his fiance Liz, making three of my favorite people in a room full of friends.

I’m just crazy about The Local. They get it right in so many ways.

The food is terrific, the staff is friendly, and the ambiance is nearly perfect. The main room is a former photography studio (bonus points for that!) and the bar integrates light tables from that former incarnation. They give your drink a strange bluish glow. There’s a big back terrace, a quiet upstairs, which is perfect for events, and then there’s the front balcony, which has a commanding view of the street (people-watching) and a distinctly New Orleans feeling—but with views of the mountains.

The name of the place derives from the strong preference for locally-sourced ingredients, which pepper the menu but the thing that I like best about the place is that it's a gathering place for the neighborhood. That’s a direct reflection of owner Adam Frazier, who is very active and supportive of the neighborhood community. Among many other things, The Local is a major sponsor of the Clark 5K, which I co-direct, and they’ve agreed to host this exhibition (Monticello Road) after it finishes at the Bridge, plus whatever additional events/readings/etc we wish to have.

The Local gives a lot to the community, but the neighborhood supports the restaurant with many regular customers. It’s a terrific and central place to meet, there’s plenty of room (even though it can be quite busy there), and I’m assured to run into someone I know there. Something about the place encourages dialog between strangers and I have made a habit of going there regularly in search of participants for this project—and I always leave knowing a few more people.

I had planned to dedicate this entry to the periodic musical gathering there, where I do much of my "research." Upon surveying the room, however, most everyone told me that it was crowded enough and that I should not spread the word. So I won’t say when it happens but I will say that it’s shockingly good.

The whole experience there is great—relaxing and well worth a trip. When you visit Monticello Road, stop in for a beer or a meal. It’s an essential part of the experience and one that will leave you completely satisfied.

The People of Monticello Road is a weekly series of profiles that will run through the summer. Monticello Road is a photography and story-telling project about the people and places along a mile-long byway that is simultaneously humble and historic, home to many and a reflection of us all. There will be an exhibition and much more in the Spring of 2012.

Project Description | More Photos: Places | People

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The People of Monticello Road: Rosie

Rosie in her yard with her namesake flowers.

Everyone should have a neighbor like Rosie.

She’s friendly and as generous with her smiles and greetings as she is with her excellent quick breads. She brings out those yummy treats whenever she gets the notion or if you do something nice for her. It’s always more than worth while.

That’s a magical thing about Rosie: helping her out feels like an automatic thing and before she even asks, friends and neighbors show up to shovel her snow, mow her lawn, or fix her car. And she is always there for us.

Rosie has a grace that encourages us to be the best people we can be and a love that sews people—and neighborhoods together. You know it the first time you meet her: this is a good person to be around.

The People of Monticello Road is a weekly series of profiles that will run through the summer. Monticello Road is a photography and story-telling project about the people and places along a mile-long byway that is simultaneously humble and historic, home to many and a reflection of us all. There will be an exhibition and much more in the Spring of 2012.

Project Description | More Photos: Places | People

Friday, July 29, 2011

The People of Monticello Road: Doc Frazier

Moose, co-proprietor of the Moore’s Creek Family Restaurant, introduced me to Robert Lee “Doctor” Frazier. The restaurant’s name is emblazoned on the side of Doc’s racing car (pictured).

“The Dukes of Hazard got nothing on me.”

Robert Lee “Doc” Frazier is full of tales of youthful bravado and recklessness. Great-nephew Kenny Geer, Jr. and his son paused from their lunch to vouch that most of his stories are true. I can attest that he’s extremely generous with his time.

I had hardly met Doc and explained my project when I found myself in his truck, seeking the lost southern traces of Monticello Road, where it disappears into the brambles, creek, interstate riprap, old sanitarium, and cemetery. He showed me where the right-of-way emerges at the since-transplanted mill. I’ll have to go back and explore on my own.

All the while, Doc regaled me with what had been: a Tastee Freeze and a beer joint, dirt roads and country stores, all transformed or departed. There were harrowing tales of high-speed chases and many a near-miss involving fast cars, double-dares, state troopers, creek-jumping, falling trees, and the inevitable wad of buckshot in the backside.

He’s extremely entertaining and an hour with him is much better than any television show. It’s not nostalgia either—more of a burning passion for life sweetened with much friendliness and readiness to share. Those traits exist in abundance at Moore’s Creek Family Restaurant, unofficial gathering place of Central Virginia’s dirt track racing scene and so many other colorful characters, many of whom merit a book of their own.

I can’t wait to go back for the delicious southern-style breakfast and story-telling, served up all day long.

The People of Monticello Road is a weekly series of profiles that will run through the summer. Monticello Road is a photography and story-telling project about the people and places along a mile-long byway that is simultaneously humble and historic, home to many and a reflection of us all. There will be an exhibition and much more in the Spring of 2012.

Project Description | More Photos: Places | People

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The People of Monticello Road: Leslie at Hazel Beauty Bar

Sorry to say that Hazel didn't make it into this photo--she's just out of frame to the upper right. To see her, you'll have to visit in person.

Hazel is a pastel drawing of a blonde in a simple country dress and she watches from the wall with a stern look. Leslie found her in the trash some time ago, put on a nice frame and hung on the wall of her new shop. Leslie’s son is also represented, in a small photo in the corner of the mirror. You’re likely to hear about him when you visit.

The premises itself is as modest as Hazel’s attire. It’s a small brick-and-cinderblock building that she shares with a vintage shop, next door to Spudnuts—a constant temptation to proprietor and customer alike. It has everything needed for a great haircut: chair, mirror, scissors, product, washing sink, and ace stylist.

It’s not fancy but it is very classy in its understatedness and that is very much a reflection of Leslie’s personality. Some people try to buy beauty or add frills but her approach is subtractive. A few smart decisions carry the day, which is exactly the right sensibility for someone cutting hair. In this world, there’s no going back: only growing back.

Leslie opened her beauty bar this past spring without a banner or marketing campaign—just a small, spontaneous party for friends, of which she has many. I was her client at her previous location and extremely happy to learn that she had moved into the neighborhood. It’s a friendly spot—social as such establishments tend to be, but never overwhelming.

It’s calm and relaxing like a massage. I find myself looking forward to my next haircut.

The People of Monticello Road is a weekly series of profiles that will run through the summer. Monticello Road is a photography and story-telling project about the people and places along a mile-long byway that is simultaneously humble and historic, home to many and a reflection of us all. There will be an exhibition and much more in the Spring of 2012.

Project Description | More Photos: Places | People
Hazel Beauty Bar

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The People of Monticello Road: The Mayor

Alex (center) celebrates Cinco de Mayo with friends at La Taza's tiki bar.

Alex is the mayor of Belmont's nightlife. He's as well loved as he is known throughout the neighborhood. He's a beautiful human being--even if he does hang a Yankees banner from his porch.

He's a transplant from New York but it's been quite a few years and he's quite enmeshed in the fiber of Charlottesville. He's the type of person you see everywhere and it wouldn't surprise me at all if he knew everybody in the city. He probably could run successfully for office. He possesses an admirable mix of knowledge and charm and a good resource for the community.

Alex doesn't really need your vote, but he'll take it.

The People of Monticello Road is a weekly series of profiles that will run through the summer. Monticello Road is a photography and story-telling project about the people and places along a mile-long byway that is simultaneously humble and historic, home to many and a reflection of us all. There will be an exhibition and much more in the Spring of 2012.

Project Description | More Photos: Places | People

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Story|Line 2011

The completed mural. More photos coming soon on StoryLine site.

This year’s StoryLine was wonderful—way beyond my expectations. It restored my faith in many things, but most of all the children.

First a quick intro for those who need it: StoryLine is a multi-entity collaboration with Charlottesville Parks & Recreation that takes children from their summer camps on a series of neighborhood walks and culminates with a mural on our Free Expression Wall. This year’s walks were in the woods at a reservoir, a creek, and a river—a three-part examination of a single set of water’s pathways both visible and invisible. [Full schedule/info]

It was tremendous fun to hang out with the kids and walk in the woods with them, but the thing that blew me away the most, aside from the general enthusiasm, was the high-level at which everything happened. Each walk included a naturalist, who introduced the topics, answered questions and connected tremendously well with the kids. Their resumes read like a who’s-who of water and conservation. Those scholars were completely matched in quality by our volunteers: artists, architects, photographers. All gave tremendous amounts of their time and they did so without hesitation.

The kids were even more impressive. First of all, they could really draw—the art they produced was amazing. They were simultaneously energetic and very focused; they had no trouble paying attention and were full of surprises.

Here’s the most hilarious example. We took a break from our fourth session (the wall drawing) to hear from a delegation from Afghanistan, an imminent group that included a supreme court judge and ministry officials. One of them asked, with a smile, if any of the kids knew where their country is located.

A child answered: “In the center of Asia between Turkmenistan, Iran, and Pakistan.” A shocked silence was followed by the admission that the individual had been born in the country, then a few friendly greetings in Dari (or was it Pashto?)

No assumptions about the children were valid—especially anything to do with limitations. This was an amazing group of kids doing excellent work. I am honored to have walked among them and completely motivated for my own work.

The main thought I carry with me is this: I have to find a way to do this all the time.

I blogged about each day on the StoryLine web site:

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The People of Monticello Road: Hyam at Clay Fitness

Hyam's athletic training class looked like such fun, I wanted to try a session myself.

Hyam will make you work. You’ll be accountable and inspired. You’ll love it.

Clay’s approach is unique in many ways. You don’t join as a member, although structured 12-week programs are encouraged, you can also drop in for one class at a time, as I did. I tried the early-morning Cycle+Core and it was a very significant workout.

They have diverse offerings and there’s tons of variety within each session so boredom is the last thing on your mind. They work the whole body with bikes, hurdles, ropes, balls, bells, and, most importantly, your own weight and resistance. This whole-body approach is reflected in the emphasis on nutrition and wellness.

The group dynamic is entirely supportive, Hyam’s own story of reinvention is inspirational, and her personal magnetism is undeniable. But it’s not about her or the other people in the room, it’s about finding something within yourself. Indeed, just as I thought I was about to keel over from the effort about half-way through, something clicked within me and I started working even harder. I was actually surprised.

That was no accident: the whole thing is set up for you to find your inner strength and get into a virtuous cycle where results and morale feed each other. You’ll want to stick with it.

By the end I was spent and as I was staggering home, I thought about my training in new ways-- and very much looking forward to the yogurt-fruit combo that was waiting for me.

The People of Monticello Road is a weekly series of profiles that will run through the summer. Monticello Road is a photography and story-telling project about the people and places along a mile-long byway that is simultaneously humble and historic, home to many and a reflection of us all. There will be an exhibition and much more in the Spring of 2012.

Project Description | More Photos: Places | People | More about ClayFitness + Nutrition

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The People of Monticello Road: Jon Trippel

By happy coincidence (or was it?) the painting that brought us together was hanging right there in the cafe. Detail on Jon's site.

My friend Lawrence was in my studio looking at photographs when he recognized his friend Jon Trippel in one of them, painting in plein air. Jon called me the next day and agreed to meet for a coffee.

I had planned it to be a quickie followed by an afternoon photo safari. After two hours with Jon I realized that the journey and the photo session would happen right there in La Taza.

The photo that brought us together. The painting in the photo that brought us together can be seen on Jon's site.

One look at Jon's work reveals an adventuresome spirit and an active mind. Our conversation traveled through some of his many experiences and more than a few subjects which he knows well. His path has not been a straight one but there are some threads that connect it all together, his art chief among them.

As in his life, Jon's paintings are a sum of observations, with each element treated on its own terms and given its due; yet he works equally hard to unify the whole. That tension gives the work its burning life-force and it has motivated his journey thus far.

The People of Monticello Road is a weekly series of profiles that will run through the summer. Monticello Road is a photography and story-telling project about the people and places along a mile-long byway that is simultaneously humble and historic, home to many and a reflection of us all. There will be an exhibition and much more in the Spring of 2012.

Project Description | More Photos: Places | People

Friday, June 24, 2011

The People of Monticello Road: Lawrence and Sophie

Lawrence and Sophie arrived at our block party with a big trey of food. I photographed them there.

I first met them while they were taking a walk and I was planting a willow tree—in my back yard. Belmont is crisscrossed with unpaved two-track alleys between lots. Some of them are more picturesque than others but they’re all peaceful and they present a different view than what you get on the main streets. They’re great for over-the-fence chats.

It makes perfect sense that I would meet those two in such a place. Lawrence is an amateur photographer, a keen observer, and very engaging. He speaks to the people he meets and he knows about some hidden gems around the neighborhood. It’s an active process for him. Companion Sophie is friendly and equally curious.

With an explorer’s mentality and an apartment in the heart of Monticello Road, Lawrence has quickly become a terrific resource for information, feedback, and conversation. He’s gracious and an eternal learner. That’s what this whole thing is about: bringing people together, sharing and learning about and from one another.

My willow started to seem a little scraggly for a while when it got dry but Lawrence reassured me the other day that it is doing well. I think he’s right.

The People of Monticello Road is a weekly series of profiles that will run through the summer. Monticello Road is a photography and story-telling project about the people and places along a mile-long byway that is simultaneously humble and historic, home to many and a reflection of us all. There will be an exhibition and much more in the Spring of 2012.

Project Description | More Photos: Places | People

Monday, June 20, 2011

The People of Monticello Road: Alexander House

The Engine that runs Alexander House: (from left to right) Emma, Misty, Angel, Flame, Raven, Kassia, Sky.

Alexander House is a collectively-owned-and-operated inn and hostel. The kitchen has a world map on the wall, with colored dots each indicating the origin of a set of guests. There’s one in the center of Australia, one in the deepest Congo, and one in the Ural mountains at the heart of the Eurasian landmass. Germany is completely covered and the United States looks like one of those enhanced nighttime satellite images that shows population centers.

This unique business welcomes guests from all over the globe and travelers of many modes and many means. Monticello Road is part of the transnational bikeway and as a result, the bike rack outside often boast several sets of saddle bags. It is possible to rent a room, the entire house or even a berth in the bunkhouse. It is as welcoming to mothers of brides as it is to bikers.

The place is immaculately clean and inviting, the guests quiet and exemplary--an enormous credit to the collective and a reflection of their sensibilities. They’re terrific neighbors and stewards and their visitors bring stories from far-away places.

Charlottesville is surprisingly cosmopolitan for such a small town, with a quaint exterior and a self-conscious sense of geography and history, combined with a not-contradictory yearning to find new ways of doing things. Alexander House displays all of these traits and, sitting as it does at the geographic center of Monticello Road, it is a great place to put our bags down and begin exploring.

The People of Monticello Road is a weekly series of profiles that will run through the summer. Monticello Road is a photography and story-telling project about the people and places along a mile-long byway that is simultaneously humble and historic, home to many and a reflection of us all. There will be an exhibition and much more in the Spring of 2012.

Project Description | More Photos: Places | People
Alexander House Info | Bios

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Primary Colors

The Awakening. Ink and watercolor on paper, 9" x 12". I made this drawing while in residency in a secluded mountain cabin. I've never felt so awake or alive.

Richard Louv talks about the importance primary (as opposed to secondary or received) experience, conveyed through the five senses.

I’ve always felt that it’s the artist’s role to invigorate those senses, to tickle them with a feather. It’s the artist’s job to investigate the world, to be active explorers and then report back in a way that awakens others to their own experiences and see the world with more intensity and nuance.

There's a linkage between the natural world and our engagement in our sensory experience and Louv discusses that as well. That’s the main thing I want to explore with the Story|Line kids: encourage them to tune in to the world around them, make note of it and share what they’ve found.

The more they do that, the more they will be artists.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Children of the Forest

Ragged Mountain Reservoir will be our first destination. It's a very accessible wild place--but not for long. Reservoir expansion will inundate the trail system.

Story|Line is a program in which we lead children on an urban hike and then tell stories and draw a huge mural about their experience. This year, we’re changing things a little bit and taking them on a road less traveled (by them). We’re trading streets and sidewalks for trails and streams; we’re taking them into the woods. One day they’ll visit our reservoir; the second will be a trail system along a stream; and the third will be a river.

When we hatched the concept, we knew intuitively that urban children could gain something they lack and that exposure to Nature would open important doors within their creative lives, though I must say that our ideas were somewhat vague. Then we came across a book that had been passed around some of the architects’ offices that talks explicitly about what we are trying to accomplish with the program.

Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv explains why direct exposure to Nature is so essential to a child’s physical and (especially) emotional development. He sites a confluence of two major trends. On the one hand, human development has moved us farther from the land in all that we do. Most Americans of just two generations ago grew up in rural homes that lacked electricity. In a very short time, their grandchildren have become divorced from the land in all they do—work, play, eat, drink and sleep.

At the same time, the Naturalist movement has also become very abstract, focusing on global trends and microbiology. Clearly these things are important but they do not resemble actual experience. So our educators are not talking about trees or even forests—it’s soil and airborn CO2. Does Nature and its experience have a part in Environmental Science?

Whether we like it or not, we’re large mammals and have more in common with squirrels than with charts and numbers. At a minimum, we suffer if we completely ignore the physical world of which we are part. Immersion in the riot of life and death that is nature re-centers that balance.

It will be very interesting to see what the children have to say—and draw—about their experience in these places so foundational yet so alien. I always learn more from the children than I teach them. I’m really looking forward to being around them and sharing their explorations and growth.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

40? I hear 40. Do I hear 100?

From the window of the Starlight Express. Interesting bending effect from the video grab of my iPhone camera. Reminds me of my own body.

I turned forty last month and suddenly I felt like I was a hundred. One week, I set a personal best at ten miles, two weeks later, a sub-par half-marathon; a week later I couldn’t run a step. My legs felt like gristly hamburger, my body all twisted up, something clearly not right. Running, walking, sitting--it all hurt. I was becoming an ice-bath and ibuprofen junkie and of course not sleeping well. Did Father Time run me down and hamstring me in my flight?

Time for a new approach, one focused on building from the core. A hilarious mix-up landed me accidentally in a yoga class and it seemed exactly right. Balance exercises, pilates, and form-based running drills—I’m taking a broad-front approach and I’m seeing results, but they’ve been slow in coming.

As I write this, I’m wrapping up a trip to New York. Schlepping my baggage around, sleeping on a couch, and being away from routine doesn’t seem like a good way to find balance and alignment. And last night I learned why they call it the City that Never Sleeps. After a fun evening at the Roller Derby, the lads and young ladies wanted to go out and celebrate but I had worked a race that morning so like a dutiful forty-year-old I opted for bed instead. “Long day.” As if in retribution for being so lame, I lay awake for four hours. Maybe I should have gone out.

Well when I woke up a few short hours later, I felt…terrific. I suppose it was a case of quality over quantity. I had a yogi brunch with Anki, a visit with Amelia A, and a stroll through the Lower East Side and saw some great art, feeling better and better throughout the day. By the time I reached the bus, I was doing overhead curls with my suitcase.

What’s gotten into me?

I actually think I got something out. I must have wrestled and bested it as I lay awake last night. It was like a persistent flu bug that lingers for so long that recovery comes as a shock. So this is what it feels like to be well!

If old age steals in like a thief in the night, so does wellness. Or maybe my aches don’t seem so bad compared to what those derby girls must be feeling right about now. Whatever the case, I’m glad to have my body back.

Thanks as always to those who take care of me!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Champion Tutoring

Albemarle Place is a once and future strip mall and now a scene of beautiful decay. It's not far from the show's venue.

When my friend Anna Patchias approached me about having a show at her tutoring business, I wasn’t sure what to say. It’s not a typical venue for an art show and she wouldn’t be offended if I said that the surroundings are not the finest. Let’s just say that they pour their hearts and souls into the instruction and not the office furniture, which is as it should be. Still Anna herself is a terrific persuader and they’re doing terrific work so I figured I would give it a go.

I must say that I’m shocked at how good the work looks in there. I have always advocated placing art in more day-to-day spaces such as schools, waiting rooms, and business offices and this place is all three. The art elevates the room in a way that’s just magical but the venue also places the art directly into the world of the everyday. This body of work, which explores quotidian human places being reclaimed by Nature, could not find a more appropriate home than a shopping center on the edge of town. The show looks good but it also works well.

A good collector challenges an artist to see new possibilities in their own work and that is what Anna has done for me.

Champion Tutoring is located at 2125 Ivy Road (near Food of all Nations) in Charlottesville, VA. The show runs through August.

More: Champion Tutoring | Succession | Succession thread on this blog

Monday, April 25, 2011

Unexpected Singularity

Our friends went for the Full Virginia: from the beach to a mountaintop and--of course--the sweet hill country in between.

We had just said goodbye to some dear friend visitors from New York and to chase away the sadness, I went for a run through the neighborhood and down into the woods. I was met by a feeling I did not expect.

As I rolled through the hills, amidst the yellow storm of pollen; past the banks of iris; along brick sidewalks and faux-brick painted asphalt crosswalks that light up and make cars stop; past farm houses and Belmont Bungaloes, stacks of spare construction materials; hearing country music, rock-and-roll, blues and young couples arguing about sex; smelling wisteria, honeysuckle and barbeque; giving and receiving suggestive glances; in an arena defined by surrounding mountains, old-seeming roads, and walls of poison ivy, I was keenly aware of how singular this place is.

By showing my friends around my favorite places, I quite naturally focused on what's good and what's unique. I had a wonderful time just spending time with them and stay-cationing in a place that's just as great to visit as to live. It was a good reminder of what I love and how well we live.

As I cruised back to my happy little house, seat of my happy life, the echoes of my friends laughter were waiting of course but there was something else: a refreshing contentment, as if waking from a good nights sleep on a bright, clear morning.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Richmond Rocks

Who says art is not affordable? It's good to see Richmond's tobacco infrastructure being repurposed for the arts.

I hadn’t really explored Richmond very much but my recent trip was a good introduction to the art scene there. There are some cool places

The main thing I realized is that it is a legitimate mid-sized city with all the cultural possibilities and interactions that status brings. Charlottesville, by contrast, is a small city—one that overachieves in a big way—but small nevertheless.

The biggest eye-opener was the Visual Arts Center—a gorgeous facility (better than any university I’ve seen) dedicated to community service through art instruction. It was abuzz with activity—in this case youth getting off the street and into the arts. It’s quite different from McGuffey that’s more about small but intense conversations.

Richmond boasts several first-rate galleries and refreshingly friendly compared to New York. The city is still small enough that everyone seems invested in growing the pie rather than dividing it up. There seems to be limitless studio space--much of it concentrated in the riotous Plant Zero | ArtWorks complex. The former was cool and the latter gave me artigo and made me appreciate McGuffey's curatorial filter.

There is plenty of funk—thrift shops, cafes, bookstores, quirky architecture—everything you would want. I was thinking about it on the drive home but I love where I am. You gotta love places (and people) for what they are and Charlottesville works for me.

It’s cool to know about this other interesting place down the road.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

If the Landlord Wants it and the People Want it, What's the Problem?

In the past week, two great new murals have appeared. Both have strong messages and strong Art-Historical pedigrees and both were done with the approval of the landlord. The pictured image (under Belmont Bridge) is NOT however the subject of this post.

In the most recent Spotlight discussion, someone put forth a notion I'll call the Breeden Doctrine. We were talking about what it takes for a piece of renegade public art to last and she said it's quite simple: if it's good, the public will embrace it and allow it to stay. Therefore, if we want more public art, artists need to simply get their stuff out there--a leap of courage--and do good stuff.

Right now in Charlottesville, we see that dynamic playing out in real time.

About two weeks ago, a group of students from a local high school got together with a local bookstore/artspace to paint a huge mural on the exterior of the latter's downtown space, which is located in a fair dilapidated stretch but right in the middle of town.

Literally before the paint had dried, the City's Architectural Review Board threatened to fine the store for modifying the space without a permit. The mural depicts a Native American from Edward Curtis' famous series of portraits from the turn of the last century.

Aside from ruffling the quaintness cops' general aversion to any departure from the Jeffersonian style, the mural sits directly opposite the Lewis and Clark monument, complete with Sacagawea cowering behind the great white men. So the big impressive Indian Chief could seem like a thumb in the eye to some; it's certainly a response.

But you know what? Everyone I've spoken to loves the mural and the creative community seems to have rallied behind it. Even members of the ARB don't seem too upset--they just want their application and fee. So I think it will stay.

Some of the comments I've seen on local discussion fora worry about the precedent: would this not open the door to a monumental portrait of Hitler, for example. I think the answer is no: the public would not accept something they hate. This piece will be allowed to remain because it's right for the location--and a very fine painting.

Of course there's more to it (here| here | here) but it's an interesting question and it's inspiring to see artists inserting their voice into the public sphere, being slapped for it--and defended.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

When the Furrier Flies

Liz had a Times photographer with her who shot some nice images here using a DSLR but this was an occasion where my S90 was probably a better tool for the job. A high-end point-and-shoot it is very strong in low light but its best feature in an occasion like this is its very humble appearance. No one minded me poking my toy-looking camera around or changed their behavior at all, which is very good in such a emotionally charged, intimate moment.

One of the best things about my job is visiting the myriad people and places along the Marathon route. The reason why it's such a cool event is because it's in New York: home of eccentrics, maniacs, and endless variety.

While she was writing her book about the Marathon, my friend Liz connected with an old man furrier (is there any other kind?) in Greenpoint named Irving Feller. When she heard he was going out of business, she had to make one last visit. She let me tag along.

Liz did a great job of describing Irving's sanctum of solitude, so I won't attempt (and fail) to duplicate her work. Instead I'll just share a few quick impressions.

She and I share a hearty reverence for the bygone and disappearing, the surprising and the gritty; all of these traits are abundant in Irving's musty piles of personal history. I never knew the guy, and I would not exactly call him friendly, but somehow I'm sad to see him go. For all his crankiness he's endearing and he possesses an integrity that demands immediate respect. He's not pretending anything.

Someone asked me what seemed the most valuable and in a room full of sables and minks, I did not hesitate: I went straight to an old dresser completely filled with ballpoint pen drawings Irving executed during the increasingly abundant spare time of a failing businessman and polymath artist. His daughter gave me one and I'll definitely honor it.

The streets of New York are lined with metal gates over storefronts with "For Rent" signs and each shuttered enterprise is someone's dream realized--and ended. What a privilege to be given entree into one such life story! The new is built upon the old, and there is much nourishment to be found in that composting soil.

Irving's place provided plenty of food for inspiration.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Notes from Spotlight 11.1: Official Public Art

Art in Place

16 February 2011

Notes compiled by Linsey Mears

Elizabeth Breeden gives an overview of the Art in Place program, funded through the city’s 1% for art fund. The monies were originally designated for art (that was never realized) at the Water Street parking garage.

She explains a rule of official public art: publicly-owned pieces must be maintained in their original form of creation by the owning entity, or they must be returned/destroyed. This leads to a discussion about Tom Givens’ Whale Tail on the 250 bypass, destroyed by a microburst storm. The sculpture was replaced by a new generation of three smaller whale tails, at the time and expense of the artist. Also the notion of temporality of public art and its dependency on engineering and materials. Rick Brown’s tree sculpture [pictured] in McIntire Park, visible from the 250 bypass, is an example: formed from a fallen tree, it is ephemeral.

More practicalities of Art in Place: the artist retains ownership of his/her piece and is responsible for insuring it, generally with a 1-2 million dollar liability policy. There is no formal selection process for the city to purchase Art in Place pieces. Selections are generally based on the number of positive emails the city receives about each piece.

Breeden introduces another program she’s currently working on—a public art project in conjunction with the Jefferson School and Vinegar Hill, an historically African-American community in Charlottesville that was razed during “urban renewal” of the 1960s-70s. The art project is slated to launch on Juneteenth (June 19th, emancipation day) 2012. Also mentioned is a UVA student-made memorial in the works to honor the enslaved laborers

Beth Turner talks about UVa’s commitment to public art. She’s on the advisory committee to UVa’s president. She had much to do with the Calder Foundation’s lending of a Calder sculpture for Central Grounds. Shares that a Henry Moore bronze will be coming to the terrace of the Bayley Art Museum grounds.

Brings up considerations of public art—the effect on and relationship with contextual space of a work. Then there are the “care and feeding” considerations like lighting and security. Discussion about the Sanda Iliescu piece, Lines of Darkness and Light, an installation of black fabric on the columns of the Rotunda. President Sullivan wants UVa’s public art to open up the dialogue for change.

Turner emphasizes the value for artists of walking through an application process. UVa’s public art application exists online and any artist may apply. http://www.virginia.edu/arts/ (click on Resources link). She suggests looking at the NEA application as a model, and making a specific plan to present, then gathering supporters and stakeholders to help see it through.

Peter Krebs brings up the issue of the public artist’s need for project management. Discussion about artist as project manager, Michaelangelo and Richard Serra as models of artist-managers, and the need for education on the subject for artists.

George Sampson, head of the Arts Administration program at UVa, talks about the program. It began in Spring 2006 and has graduated 1000 students so far. He announces the Design Thinking mashup, a symposium at UVa School of Architecture Feb 22-23 2011. Its purpose is “to explore collaboration, creative research, and community in creative problem solving techniques.”

Aaron Eichorst, an artist and arts educator, describes his current public art project involving elementary school students. The piece will be a mosaic covering a bridge at a Habitat for Humanity site. Brings up discussion about artist as facilitator and agile thinker. The importance of the way artists approach and process a problem, and the inherent value of the artist’s thoughts. In Seattle, the city officially places an artist on every aspect of city planning.

Maggie Guggenheimer, director of Piedmont Council of the Arts, shares some of her experiences with public art administration. In 2008, PCA began the Storyline Project in Charlottesville, as an expansive, creative solution to a Cville Parks and Rec bus needing a new paint job.

Since then the Storyline Project has implemented a collaborative public art piece on the free speech monument on the downtown mall, a history walk, a Belmont wall project, and presently a Rivanna river walk. Guggenheimer describes the project as providing transformative experiences for both the participants and the artists/designers involved. She reminds us that the free speech wall is a readily available public resource for anyone—just contact the city.

Brings up an op-ed piece in the Hook about a recent drawing and erasure on the free speech wall that some may consider pushing the boundaries of acceptable speech and of censorship.
Discussion of the artist’s loss of control once art is put into the public context. An example is Nini Baekstrom’s public sculpture Terra Woman, which has been added to by individuals, thereby changing the artist’s intent. Is it an inherent aspect of public art or is it just bad manners? Breeden notes that all vandalism she knows of on the Art in Place pieces has been alcohol-induced.

Discussion of the meaning of official public art. Some ideas: public art as a dialogue between artist/architect and the landscape to achieve a harmonious interaction with a space; public art as the visual expression of a community’s heart.

More about Spotlight | More about McGuffey