There's no telling where an evening's going to end up when I start out at a brewery.
Even with no interest in beer whatsoever, I got to see a favorite actor working the bar and ran into at least half a dozen friends.
Who knew all my friends were beer drinkers?
It's gotten so that if it's the day before First Fridays, it's a great art night.
Exhibit A: Candela Gallery's new show, "Louviere + Vanessa: Counterfeit," a mixed media show of unique beauty.
And highly unique materials: inkjet on Kozo paper, gold leaf, paint and resin on dibond (essentially a sandwich of thin aluminum sheets).
You know, just your usual run-of-the-mill art supplies.
The New Orleans duo's "photographs" were based on copies of world currency, much enlarged and made incredibly painterly with gold leaf, paint and resin.
It was striking texturally in places where you could see the overlay of the sheets of gold leaf or where it had been shaped into curves in a decorative manner.
Add to that hand-crafted frames that were almost as stunning as the works and I was in full art lust mode.
"Not Even a Princess Can Balance Two Worlds" had the image of a maiden, one hand on her hip and one holding a bucket on her head.
You couldn't miss "Until the Sky Around the Comet Tore Through Him" because of its odd frame- its victorious image of a knight on his horse, fist raised overhead, required the frame to be bumped out in an extension along the top of the frame.
I thought of Monet's "Reflections on the Thames" when I saw "With So Many Doorsteps Ruined, the Orphan Fled," a shimmering study of a building in blues and silvers.
The classic profile of "The Fog of Youth was Thicker than He Remembered" (probably the best title in show and that's saying a lot considering the quirky and poetic choices) was a striking one.
Come to think of it, that's as apt a description of the whole show as any: quirky and poetic, truly a feast for the eyes.
Exhibit B: Next door at Ghostprint Gallery was Andy Espinoza's "Another Life," with most pieces depictions of the figure and, as a bonus, I was handed a glass of French Rose on arrival.
Making my way around the room, I admired a large charcoal, "Alone in the Garden," thinking what a remarkable lushness it had.
Unsurprisingly, it had already been sold.
There were several oil nudes that recalled the Impressionists, like "Climbing into Bed" and "Morning," both of which showed female nudes from the back.
Faces didn't matter, curves did.
But the one that captured me and wouldn't let me go was "Blue and Yellow Blanket," an oil on panel of a figure reclining on the afore-mentioned blanket.
There was also a "Blue and Yellow Blanket 2" but somehow it didn't resonate the same with me.
Something about the body's shadow or the line where she met the blanket was absolutely stunning to me.
Now if only some generous friend would pay the artist $500, that painting could be mine.
I looked around for takers and, finding none, moved on to ADA Gallery for Mogan Herrin's "Ology."
Ever since I stumbled on the mythological-looking Herrin sculpture purchased by Lance Armstrong (back before he was disgraced) being loaded onto a U-Haul on Grove Avenue back in 2008, I have been a fan.
Tonight's mini-show reminded of the artist's deft touch with wood, in a skeletal figure taller than me and in a helmeted bust of the smoothest wood and the most intricate grains.
Good eye, Lance.
Tonight's music at Balliceaux was touted as "Bringing Iberia to the Fan" and featured a couple of ensembles that easily qualified as world music.
There was already a crowd in the back room when we arrived, but we asked two guys at a front table if we could join them and they welcomed us in.
One soon got up and left because, it turned out, he was the drummer for upcoming sextet Suenos Gitanos.
The guy remaining introduced himself as George and I asked why he'd come.
Used to work with the drummer, knew the guitarist as a high school friend, the usual musical incestuous nature of Richmond.
He brought up seven degrees of separation and how in Richmond it's more like two or three.
Explaining that we'd seen Fado Nosso play at Globehopper and had heard good things about Suenos Gitanos, I began pointing out band members I knew.
"See? We've only got two degrees of separation, too!" he said, slurring a bit.
Suenos Gitanos played flamenco-inspired Spanish music with congas, drums, bass, two classical guitars and trumpet.
And may I just say that the trumpet player had on the cutest espadrilles with the ribbons tied around her ankles.
Both guitarists looked pretty in long skirts, with one wearing a long white cotton skirt with a black tube top, the epitome of summer fashion circa 1077.
Unexpectedly, George looked a little green and said goodnight, clearing the way for two more music-lovers to join our ringside table.
Soon, a friend at the next table came over to say hello, asking me if S.G.'s lineup and sound didn't remind me a bit of Bio Ritmo.
Lots of talented musicians playing Latin-based music? Yep.
Their smooth rhythms soon had my friend and his date dancing while I enjoyed watching the conga player beat on things and the trumpet player blow.
Depending on the angle of her horn, at times the colored ceiling lights cast a shadow of her trumpet on her floral-patterned dress.
Their set was brief before Fado Nosso came up.
I'd seen them at Globehopper for their CD release party, so I knew to expect Portuguese blues, songs of yearning and love for the men who'd gone to sea.
Sadly, most of the audience couldn't have cared less.
While Bernadette sang songs of intrigue and love, saudade (longing), sadness and the one who got away, most of the room talked or shouted over her emotive voice.
It was a shame and made me glad I'd heard them in a listening room environment already or I'd never have been able to understand what I was hearing.
Honestly, I'll never understand why people are willing to pay $5 to get into the back room only to talk over the music when they could stay in the front room, not pay any money and talk and shout up there.
I'd be curious to know the answer.
To their credit, they soldiered on through one evocative Fado song after another, some traditional and some newer stuff, as if everyone was paying attention.
When their set ended, bass player Brian came over to chat.
"I was looking out at the crowd, wondering if there was anyone who wasn't talking and I looked around and saw you and thought, Karen's listening."
As a music fan, that's about the best compliment I could hope for.
It almost made up for my makeshift title of tonight's performance: The Fog of Drunken Chatter was Thicker than She Would have Liked.
If you want to appreciate longing, you've got to shut up and listen.
Or go have a beer in the front room.