Have a Seat
“The Art of Seating” will prove that a chair isn’t a chair, isn’t a chair. This eye-popping exhibit at the Virginia Historical Society promises to be a visual thrill ride, proving that furniture, like fashion, is an always-changing barometer of the times. The 40 specimens begin with a classic Shaker ladder-back arm rocker, suggestive of a simpler era. The baroque House of Representatives arm chair and an Egyptian revival side chair are harbingers of the excesses of the Gilded Age. Warren MacArthur’s tubular aluminum evokes Buck Rogers of the 1930s, while Harry Bertoia’s diamond chair channels the jet age. The show is organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville and the Thomas H. and Diane DeMell Jacobsen Ph.D. Foundation.
“The Art of Seating” runs at Virginia Historical Society from Feb. 20-April 17. Admission is $20, members free.
For the Record
In 1933, at the depth of the Great Depression, the U.S. Department of the Interior undertook a brilliant and far-sighted stimulus program to put historians, architects, surveyors, draftsmen and writers to work. The Historic American Buildings Survey unleashed these collective talents and skills on recording the nation’s landmarks. An exhibition at the Branch Museum of Architecture and Design, “The Historic Buildings Survey: Documenting Virginia’s Architectural Heritage,” examines the organization’s early and ongoing efforts in the Old Dominion. And just for the record, the Branch is located on Monument Avenue, the nation’s only street to be documented by the Historic American Buildings Survey.
“The Historic Buildings Survey: Documenting Virginia’s Architectural Heritage” runs at the Branch Museum of Architecture and Design, 2501 Monument Ave. Through the spring. Free. 804-644-3041.
The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has been abuzz with the installation of the sprawling McGlothlin Collection of American Art. It shares space with the museum’s only complete period room installation, the opulent Worsham-Rockefeller bedroom from a late-19th century Manhattan townhouse. For those visiting Manhattan this spring, there’s a splendid opportunity to visit the companion installation at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which recently installed the Worsham-Rockefeller dressing room. Both chambers were designed by the little-known, Prussian-born cabinetmaker and interior decorator George A. Schastey (1839-1894). While there, visit the Met’s DeeDee Wigmore Gallery and feast your eyes on a gilded and mother-of-pearl inlaid armchair created by Herter Brothers for the William Vanderbilts. The museum owns the matching chair which is being conserved.
The Worsham-Rockefeller bedroom can be viewed daily at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. 804-340-1400. The Met’s dressing room is a permanent installation, and a companion exhibition, “George A. Schastey,” runs through May 1 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, on Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street. Admission suggested.
Snapshots in Time
Edith Shelton led a double life. By day she was a cashier in the University of Richmond treasurer’s office. Weekends, from the 1950s to 1980s, she trod her hometown’s aging and picturesque streets and alleyways with a sharp eye and her camera. Some 3,000 of her color slides are in the permanent collection of the Valentine, where a selection has been printed for “Edith Shelton’s Richmond.” It is equal part nostalgia and a cautionary tale. Textured neighborhoods can be lost both incrementally and wholesale, as in interstate highway construction.
“Edith Shelton’s Richmond” is on exhibit through May at the Valentine, 1101 E. Clay St. Admission is $10 for adults, free for 18 and younger. 804-649-0711.
The late Richmonder Gregory Montgomery possessed a cheerful and magnetic personality that attracted similar free spirits who, like him, craved fashion. He was talented at putting disparate objects together in new ways, especially loving the intersection of art and innovative retail. As a memorial, friend and fellow artist Alice McCabe has gathered a pantheon of 20 leading area artists, artisans and jewelry designers for “Wonderland,” an exhibition at Rose Turko, a gallery in Scott’s Addition owned and operated by Kathy Emerson, another wizard of creative retail. The participating artists selected objects and components that were found in Montgomery’s studio and created singular works and reasonably priced art jewelry. Proceeds will support a scholarship fund for students majoring in metals at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of the Arts.
“Wonderland” runs at the Rose Turko gallery, 1202 N. Boulevard, through Feb. 23. The opening is Feb. 11, 6-9 p.m.