Friday, May 31, 2013

21st Century Birthday

The Gemini celebration train rolls on.

In honor of a friend's birthday a few days ago, we were meeting at the VMFA for gallery-walking and lunch.

Despite the fact that I'm at the museum almost every week, the birthday girl doesn't have that kind of free time.

So we began in the 20th century galleries, allowing her time to take in the Wyeths, the Hoppers and Hartleys with which I'm so familiar.

The treat for me came when we got to the 21st century galleries because, despite having been in them several times, it had been a while and there were plenty of new additions since my last visit.

But the main wow factor came from who I was seeing on the walls of the VMFA.

People I've met and people who live here in Richmond.

A photograph by Georgianne Stinnett, with whom I'd shared cheese, salami and an afternoon of conversation during a thunderstorm.

Siemon Allen, whose exhibit at the Anderson Gallery, "Imagining South Africa: Collection Projects" had turned me on to this south African record collector.

Gordon Stettinius, owner of Candela Gallery, whom I'd interviewed and heard about the very photographic series hanging on the walls in front of me.

Heide Trepannier, the artist whose distinctive works continue to impress with new shows at Reynolds Gallery.

None of these were hanging int eh 21st century galleries last time I'd been through.

Which just goes to show, I can be there every week of my life and never keep up with the array of creativity on the walls.

Sated intellectually, we headed upstairs to Amuse where not one, but two, servers asked me within 90 seconds if they should get me some absinthe.

I may have a reputation there.

Instead, we stayed chaste with a lovely ladies' lunch of Manakintowne salads (dates, chickpeas, almonds, pea shoots, champagne vinaigrette) and a big bowl of mussels with Surry sausage.

While I wasn't availing myself of the green fairy, the bartender was kind enough to pass on information about the Wormwood Society, a group for people like me, apparently.

We talked about what makes couples we know compatible and the proximity of Languedoc to Catalan.

And ultimately, because this was a birthday celebration, we finished with chocolate pate, albeit without anything appropriate to drink with it.

Still, some birthdays are special because of what else is going on for the celebrant and this is one of those years for her.

Me, I just take the celebrations wherever I can get them, absinthe or not.

And the art was out of this world.

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