Monday, June 23, 2014

With High Hopes and Brush in Hand

I go looking for an arty hotel and stumble on an artist.

After reading this morning about plans for Quirk Gallery to open a boutique hotel in the Arts District, I naturally decided to incorporate seeing the building into my morning walk.

An arts-infused hotel with rooftop bar and deck mere blocks from home? Oh, yes, I wanted to see where that'll be.

And here's my hope. Given that Quirk is "extending its brand," one of those dreadful marketing-speak terms, I am wishing, hoping and praying (to the extent that a heathen prays) that all the art in the hotel comes from Richmond, or at the very least, Virginia artists.

I can't imagine anything cooler than a hotel in the Arts District that actually shows and supports local artists, can you?

Maybe each individual room could be hung with all one artist's work, you know, an Ed Trask room, a Josh George room, a Chris Milk room, an Adam Juresko room.

And in the lobby and public areas, an ever-changing gallery of local artists' work for sale. Stay for the weekend and take home a piece of Richmond!

Bottom line, I'm excited for a hotel in the neighborhood and hope they manage to get it open before the big bike race next year. It would be terrific to have a bunch of tourists staying in the neighborhood.

I kept on down Broad Street and I was almost ready to cut around to Marshall when, in front of City hall, I saw an artist with an easel set up.

Immediately, I knew I'd stumbled on one of the Plein Air Richmond artists, so I walked up to him and asked if he was part of that.

Looking surprised as hell that I knew about the one week extravaganza of artists painting outside all around the city, he smiled and introduced himself as Russell Jewell as I looked at his sketch.

It was a view of Broad Street looking east, with the magnificent Old City Hall dominating the skyline and the bustle of cars and a pedestrian and dog cutting through the foreground on a diagonal.

Asking how long the sketch had taken him, he said around 45 minutes and I couldn't help but point out that he had a beautiful morning - 77 degrees - to be out on the street.

His plan was to spend the next couple of hours painting over the sketch while my plan was to drive to the northern neck to spend the afternoon with an oyster gardener, so we parted ways with me wishing I could walk back by in a few hours to see his finished painting.

Ah, well, it was enough to catch him in the act of outdoor creation, a tradition that came to full flower in the mid 19th century, producing some of the most light-filled works ever done, but one too infrequently seen, even in the Arts District.

Wouldn't it be lovely if the courtyard of the new Quirk Hotel became a haven for artists to paint en plein air?

A girl from the 'hood can hope, can't she?

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