Art-a-licious '11

In 2011, the art world continued to quake in fear at the effects of economic climate change, leading to extended show runs and shuttered gallery doors. Charlottesville, however, experienced several thrills of a different variety.

Feast of the apocalypse: Second Street Gallery set the art bar high with its first show of the year: Josephine Taylor’s “Bomb Landscape + Monster Face.” Featuring oversized fantasies depicting a raw and horrific future, it was impossible not to stare with appreciation into the belly of Taylor’s exquisitely rendered beast.

Return of the living image: After taking a year’s hiatus, Look3: Charlottesville Festival of the Photograph once again brought “three days of peace, love, and photography” to the Downtown Mall in June. Shutterbugs and photo-philes lapped up the interviews and images of this year’s “Legacy” photographers, Antonin Kratochvil, Nan Goldin (interviewed by photo legend Sally Mann), and Massimo Vitali, and then talked about them over beer beneath George Steinmetz’s stunning aerial photographs hanging in the Mall’s trees. SurpriseLook3 highlight? Mary Ellen Mark and Martin Bell’s poignant and hilarious film, Prom.

Mural madness: While continued to provide drive-by sculptures around town, several new efforts brought two-dimensional works to public spaces. Kluge-Ruhe guest artist Reko Rennie (whose large pink kangaroos hopped up in unexpected places in February) collaborated with Pittsburgh-based Frank Buffalo Hyde to create a new mural on the side of The Bridge. In addition, The Bridge was the force behind the new Charlottesville Mural Project, which sponsored Avery Lawrence’s recently completed composition at the Ix. And Brazilian-turned-Charlottesvillian Chico Lorenzo brought his vibrant art to the walls within Venable Elementary School.

Masters of anxiety; Not content simply to kowtow to their teachers, moving-and-shaking UVA art history grad students Michael Maizels and Brittany Strupp curated the early-September Ruffin Gallery show, “Untitled: A Mid-Atlantic MFA Exhibition,” featuring cutting-edge work by their studio-art counterparts at universities in Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina. Maizels and Strupp also enlisted their art history peers to write essays about the show’s conflict-laden pieces for an exhibition catalog.

Dean Dass conquers the world: Well, at least he conquered Second Street Gallery and Les Yeux du Monde, which honored the long-time UVA printmaking prof and artist of all media with a veritable “Dass Fest” during November and December. SSG offered a 25-year Dass retrospective, “Studies for a project that cannot be realized 1986-2011," while LYdM displayed more recent fare in “Dean Dass: Heaven and Earth, New Prints and Paintings.”

Firefish Gallery opened in the space left by newly defunct Skylight Studios, and Piedmont Council for the Arts relocated from the McGuffey Art Center to CitySpace this past year. Meanwhile, Isolated Article gallery decided to call it quits.

Finally, 2011 marks the end of my eight-year tenure as The Hook’s art editor. Even though I won’t be here to provide the nudge, please continue to go out and look!

1 comment

I have enjoyed reading your art reviews and clever side bars for the past eight years. It was one of the things that made cville a special and unique town. I will miss it immensely. I know things change, but this is one change that disappoints. However, I look forward to your next endeavors. I'm sure they will be as inspiring as your previous ones. Your column will be sorely missed.