Sunday, February 20, 2011

My Sins Found Me Out in Ashland

If art and writers are placed at the center of the universe, I will go on a Sunday afternoon.

That meant a short drive up Route 301 to the Flippo Gallery at Randolph Macon for the opening of "Artists and Writers II," a biennial invitational exhibit of collaborative works between, duh, artists and writers, even when they're the same person.

Which was the case with comic book artist Dash Shaw, whose monochromatically blue and green panels of a dating adventure opened the show. I was especially taken with the panels of a couple discussing their pasts.

Him: When I was in college, I was with a 33-year old.
Her: What did she teach you?
Him: There are things that are illegal in certain states that women really enjoy over the age of 30.

I was the only one who laughed out loud at those panels, admittedly, but I was in a cluster of people all of whom appeared to be under 30.

The Susan Singer/Valley Haggard collaboration involved Singer taking over 300 nude photos of Haggard and from them producing three paintings which hung in today's show, surrounded by two lists of words.

One held negatives (fat, cellulite, lard ass, thunder thighs) and the other positives (luscious, curvy, voluptuous, goddess), demonstrating the mental progress Haggard made about her body over the year they worked together.

Man-about-town Harry Kollatz collaborated with Amie Oliver for a series of paintings that included some of Harry's scribbles over the past fifteen years. The paintings of coffee cups, flowers and Harry were all done in beautiful winter shades of white, gray and black.

Oliver had traced over Harry's jottings to achieve words on canvas, my favorite being "I have lived long enough that my sins have found me out." A painting of Harry's ubiquitous hat was overlaid with, "C'est ne pas Harry," for a touch of humor.

Poet Joshua Poteat and architectural historian Roberto Ventura came together for a series of panels called, "For Lucy and Yard Sale," based on a news story about a homeless man's murder and the friends he left behind. The thematic nature of the piece was based on railroads, since the friends had hopped trains together.

Lines from one of Poteat's poems were used on wooden panels for a site-specific installation and some also had bits of the news story on them; the proceeds of the sale of the individual pieces will go to the Daily Planet.

I was so taken with a line of poetry on one of the panels that I immediately found the gallery's director and bought it.

While I'll have to wait until April when the show closes to collect it, I look forward to having a piece of poetry on my wall, especially one purchased for a worthwhile and local cause.

The opening was packed and most people stayed for the reading afterwards. Haggard began with ruminations about the self-exploration she'd done during the course of the project.

She said the end result was the ability to allow her insecurities to coexist with her body's past (six surgeries, six miscarriages and one child) in a peaceful and gentle way.

Harry put on his actor's hat (that is, voice) for a reading from old journals of random jottings and overheard conversations; thus we heard things like, "You have to be young, stoned and have good bowels to make art." He spoke of seeing graffiti saying, "Jesus is a gay Boy Scout" in three different handwritings.

Josh Poteat read his previously-written poem, the one that had resonated so strongly when they began their site-specific project. It's the second such piece he's done with Ventura and they hope to do more.

And I got to hear the poet read the line which had compelled me to buy a piece of art in Ashland when I had no intention of doing any such thing.

There is an agreeable sound here, under the thistle...

Not that craving words and art could be considered sins, at least not in my (illustrated) book.


  1. Quaint, but way too small for me on a regular basis.

    That said, it wasn't my first time going to the Flippo Gallery and I never hesitate to see a show at Ashland Coffee and Tea because of its true listening room environment (Marshall Crenshaw, Sarah Borges, Guggenheim Grotto, Darden Smith, the Kennedys,to name a few).

    I've also been to the farmer's market and eaten at the Iron Horse multiple times.

    So it's been worth the scenic drive up 301 on a fair number of occasions. Like today.

  2. thanks for the kind words! So glad you enjoyed the show.

    Just a quick correction -- I'm not an architectural historian, but I study, practice, and teach architecture and design (now interiors @ VCU). Those architectural historians have far too much patience for me to ever hang with them!

    roberto ventura

  3. Quick correction noted.

    But you underestimate yourself. I took your Modern Love: A Romance in Four Parts(Passion! Beauty! Betrayal! Architecture!) 20th century architecture class at the VCA last year and thought you showed a great deal of patience with us.I even blogged about it.

    I also learned a lot (twitterpation was a new concept to me), so thanks for your informative words.