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.