Tuesday, March 20, 2012

In the Eye of the Beholder

The art was all about the breakup.

The meal was all about the date.

The music was all about the girl getting it.

I got the ball rolling at an empty Belvidere at Broad with a glass of Gatao Vinho Verde and a Todd S. Hale art show.

There were two distinct groups, the colorful one of acrylics with oil or enamel on wood  panels and the black and white one of charcoal on paper.

The first group were larger and abstract with occasional recognizable features like leaves, bones and drips. There was a certain exuberance to them.

But it was the other six pieces, the charcoals, that really captured me.

The series, called "The Vegetable Mind," began with a feathery branch-looking image, morphing into something fuller and multi-branched.

By the fourth one, it was starting to look head-like. The fifth looked like a guy violently shaking his head, with hair flying everywhere.

In the last was a dark head portrait of a guy with the saddest eyes and mouth.

A server saw me studying them and we got to talking about the series. She said that the artist had said that he had been going through the aftermath of a breakup when he'd done them.

Now I got in. Well, I didn't just get it, I felt his pain.

It was right there for all to see, much like a lot of my writing for several years. Plain as the noses on our faces.

That information led to a discussion with her of art history in general.

It's her major and my degree, so we'd found kindred souls to geek out with about all things art.

And, believe me, that doesn't happen very often.

Let's just say I don't often find someone who wants to discuss German expressionism, so when I do, I'm all over it.

All of a sudden I looked up and realized that I'd promised to be somewhere and I wasn't there.

Somebody was in the mood for pizza, so we made the trek to Stuzzi and found stools at the bar.

Next to us were a couple on a date and she was especially eager to chat us up.

Frankly, she was offering up way more information than I wanted to hear, but there was a once-trapped, now free air to her and she was ready to over-share.

In a nutshell: married at nineteen, three sons in short order, years of boredom and decades later, escapee.

She mentioned that in one of her son's high school yearbooks, a friend of his had admitted that he wanted to have sex with her.

Her son also showed up at Stuzzi shortly thereafter. You know, because everyone wants their 27-year old son on their date.

It's times like that when a person appreciates that a margherita pizza only takes 90 seconds to arrive.

Not that she didn't try to restart the conversation again, but with wine and food now, we at least had an out.

We finished with a Nutella and banana-stuffed calzone as big as my head and oozing sweetly dark creaminess.

My favorite part of everything she was over-sharing came when she looked at me and said, "You're smarter than I am."

I can only hope. And a lot more discreet, too.

Balliceaux called to us next for the RVA Big Band, a seventeen-piece that half-filled the room with its sheer size.

It was my first time seeing this new project, sort of a Devil's Workshop for the new decade.

I recognized several familiar faces in the band (including two favorites, Jason Scott and Marcus Tenney) and even more in the crowd.

The music ranged from newer to classic selections and their rendition of "Back to the Apple" by Count Basie closed out the first set with a swing that could make a person's hips move involuntarily.

It was dance music, pure and simple. Hips should move.

They had a girl on baritone sax and the big, deep solos coming out of her slender form elicited comments like, "Get it, girl!" from fellow musicians and audience members.

During the break, I spoke to a couple of jazz lovers, a student of jazz studies who was playing in the band along with the pros and a music-loving friend who was as impressed with a Monday night show as I was.

I'm thrilled that they're trying it out as a weekly series since it's often tough to find live music on a Monday.

When we finally decided to leave, it was mainly because I'd been up since the ungodly hour of 7 a.m., something I never do and am not very good at.

Looking back at the evening, I was feeling pretty good about myself.

I don't have that sad broken-up look that Hale's art did, I didn't waste decades in a suffocating marriage, and a guy told me I had the legs of a sixteen-year old.

And all that was before I got to hear seventeen talented musicians play music for me while I lounged on a vintage love seat.

You just never know.

Monday, Monday, so good to me
Monday, Monday, it was all I'd hoped it would be.

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