Anderson, Artspace's director of exhibitions, approached Ravenal to do something with the gallery. They decided to put Richmond at the center of a region stretching 250 miles in all directions. They wanted their region to exclude New York as well as a lot of other major cities. "The 250 was perfect because it just missed New York, but it picked up Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and down to Charlotte," Ravenal says.
The result is "Radius 250," an all-media show featuring a diverse group of 80-plus artists, selected from a pool of 450 entrants.
Before the exhibit's opening at Artspace, Style spoke with Ravenal about the decentralization of the art world, our local art scene and the show.
Style: What were your objectives for jurying "Radius 250"?
Ravenal: We deliberately kept [the exhibit] very wide open in terms of media. So it was open to painting, sculpture, printmaking, drawing, photography, video art, and crafts as well. People were able to define their work any way they wanted, because I felt that if we were already having as our parameter the region, we didn't also want to start limiting media. Also, I didn't want to have any other layer of limitations such as a theme [i.e., abstraction, figurative work] or something like that. The point was we were prioritizing the geographic designation with Richmond as the center of this area. Beyond that, we just wanted to get the best work that we could.
In the press releases, you set the show up as the answer to the multitude of regionally themed shows. How does the chosen work reflect the Mid-Atlantic region?
I think you do have some regional themes and styles, but at the same time, you've got a lot of things that mitigate against that. You have art schools, which have their own character, but to a large degree look towards the major metropolitan areas. So sometimes the art-student art, no matter where it is from, tends to look more alike than it might look like the [work of] more mature artists that are living and working in certain regions.
Do you believe that the art world, over time, will continue to become more and more decentralized? If so, will there always be art epicenters like New York City and London?
Well, the art world is becoming more decentralized. That's both true nationally and internationally. It's becoming more global. I think that that trend will continue that people become more aware that good art is being made in any number of regions, cities, and even towns. At the same time, the key cities will continue to be key cities because they are not only art production centers, but they are art marketing and commercial centers.
How would you characterize the Richmond art scene to an out-of-towner?
I would say that, for a city this size, it's lively. There are a number of mature artists working here, and VCU has a very strong presence both in terms of students and faculty. I would say it's a small gallery scene and a fairly limited base of collectors. Those are two areas that I would like to see grow. S
"Radius 250" is at Artspace Gallery, 0 E. Fourth St., through Sept. 18.
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