Friday, October 28, 2011

The Only Difference

Sometimes you need to look at the energy you've been putting into what you do and regroup.

Or, as my long-time friend Joel would say, deny, deny, deny.

That denial began by meeting friends on the deck outside the Best Cafe at the VMFA before the artist talk began.

Enjoying the warm evening air, we all acknowledged that tonight may have been the last fine night of the year before cold weather arrives.

Artist Tristan Lowe, the creator of Mocha Dick, the amazing life-size whale sculpture currently residing at the VMFA, got me thinking about new phases of life during his talk tonight.

Taking the audience through a history of his sculptural work, he said he reached a point where he needed a new challenge, an epic project with which to challenge himself.

His conversation with curator John Ravenal  provided a fascinating look at a twenty-year career that built on itself, taking flight with figures whizzing around a gallery and culminating in the white felt whale now curved around a column at the museum.

Lowe was well-spoken and self-deprecating and probably overly forthright for many of the blue hairs in the audience.

I appreciated his honesty in discussing the journey his art has made. It was especially satisfying to hear how much he liked the contained placement of his whale in our museum.

Personally, I've been struggling with it, although I'm grateful that we got it at all.

No doubt Richmonders will look back in twenty years and marvel that we had a Lowe sculpture on exhibit way back in 2011.

After the talk and saying farewell to my friends, I made  a bee-line for the Roosevelt where I'd promised multiple people I'd be headed.

Saying that the place was a zoo is a gross understatement.

The place was mobbed, with people waiting for bar stools, waiting for tables and no one showing any signs of leaving.

I hovered, I said hi to people I knew and eventually I scored a glass of Pollak Durant White, a blend that came highly recommended by the guy who'd invited me there tonight.

With patience I eventually got a bar stool and the company of a wine rep (with little tolerance for Virginia wines) and his girlfriend.

Unexpectedly, I learned that the Virginia winery owner I'd met and sent in had already been in for dinner.

I was disappointed to hear that the kitchen was already out of the pig's head terrine I wanted and had to regroup.

Choice #2 was the double cheeseburger with cheddar, bacon onion jam and rooster sauce. To allow me to live with myself, I ordered a side of roasted baby carrots with ginger and orange juice.

Chef Lee's burger borders on sublime; it could be the addition of Sausagecraft meat to the mix or it could be the addition of foie gras butter.

Either way, it's a burger to be reckoned with.

Wisely, I ate it as quickly as I could before my arteries hardened completely. Or someone asked for a bite.

I ran into a couple of friends who are to be extras in the Lincoln movie. One had had his beard shaved to Civil War -looking fashion and the other had spent the day having his pierced (okay, plugged) ears cosmetically altered.

Then there was the beer rep who wanted to tell me about all the Beer Week events going on. The only problem was that I don't drink beer.

A friend told me about U2's Philly show with Interpol opening (not their best effort, he said) and the prime seats they'd had.

The wine rep and I discussed Oregon Pinot Noir and South African Pinotage and why he has a hard time with Virginia Claret.

By the time I switched to Blenheim Cab Franc, the crowds were beginning to thin and the staff no longer considered themselves in the weeds.

It was the best time to gather friends and talk trash about music, restaurants and how expensive it is to have a print framed.

Meanwhile, in the back of my head, the imaginary CD playing was saying, "Time to change course."

Sometimes your best period comes after a sharp turn in direction.

Or so an artist once said.


  1. turning a ship is a daunting task.

    How does it feel this morning?