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Thursday, June 29, 2017

VCUarts Launches Monument Design Competition plus SPARC Film Scores an Emmy

Posted By on Thu, Jun 29, 2017 at 4:30 PM

A still from the award-winning "From the Wings: The LIVE ART story" featuring Mechanicsville native, Jason Mraz.
  • A still from the award-winning "From the Wings: The LIVE ART story" featuring Mechanicsville native, Jason Mraz.

The experimental design lab of VCU's School of the Arts, mOb (or middle of Broad), is partnering with Storefront for Community Design to hold a national competition for design submissions regarding Richmond's historic and controversial Monument Avenue and its Confederate statues.

The project is titled General Demotion/General Devotion, and the design competition and exhibitions will happen in the spring and fall of 2018, with a call for entries scheduled this fall. It's being supported by a $30,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

A press release states that the project hopes to create "a unique vehicle for engaging in a community and nation-wide dialogue about the role of sculpture, monuments, and public spaces in creating a socially just environment."

The project is being directed by Camden Whitehead, associate professor of Interior Design, accompanied by project liaisons Kristin Caskey, associate professor of Fashion Design, and Ryan Rinn, executive director of Storefront.

Style reached out to Whitehead and will update this blog post soon.

A press release from the school notes that the project "grew out of a weeklong charrette that the mOb studio undertook in the fall of 2015 with guest architect Burt Pinnock of Baskervill. At that time, mOb students were asked to consider a prosthesis or alteration to the Robert E. Lee Monument (applied digitally) that would change the meaning of the statue, allowing a more nuanced and broader interpretation. The works were presented at Richmond’s First Friday Art Walk, accompanied by a panel discussion including historian Calder Loth, educator Melanie Buffington and columnist Michael Paul Williams, and led by Bill Martin, director of the Valentine Museum."

In other arts news, School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community (SPARC) announced that a documentary, "From the Wings: The LIVE ART Story" has won an Emmy award from the National Capital Chesapeake Bay Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences at its regional award show on June 24 in Washington.

The documentary, which can be viewed here, follows six students from SPARC's inclusive arts education program for students with and without disabilities. The annual LIVE ART event, which often features visiting celebrities and musical stars, is the premiere event for the school each year.

The film, produced and directed by Martin Montgomery, Ryan Ripperton and William Gaff, was eligible for the award after airing nationally on PBS stations.

Friday, June 16, 2017

InLight Richmond Announces 2017 Location

Posted By on Fri, Jun 16, 2017 at 10:30 AM

An exhibit from the 2012 InLight event.
  • An exhibit from the 2012 InLight event.

The popular annual InLight Richmond event, where artists illuminate the night with various light-based art work and performance, will be held in the downtown arts district on Friday, Nov. 3 from 7 p.m. to midnight.

Organized by 1708 Gallery, the free event was created in 2008 on the occasion of that gallery's 30th anniversary. This year it takes its inspiration from the 1901 Electric Carnival that lit up Broad Street with a replica of the Eiffel Tower and thousands of lights, according to its website.

The juror for InLight 2017 will be Nat Troutman, curator of performance and media at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City. To learn more about how to be involved, check out the website.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Preview: Elegba Folklore Society's Juneteenth Celebration, June 16 -18

Posted By on Wed, Jun 14, 2017 at 4:15 PM

Historian and author, Anthony T. Browder speaks on Friday, June 16.
  • Historian and author, Anthony T. Browder speaks on Friday, June 16.

Two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was enacted on the first day of 1863, over a quarter million blacks were still in bondage in Texas.

Juneteenth, regarded as the first African-American holiday, became a traditional celebration when Gen. Gordon Granger sailed into the harbor at Galveston, Texas, and issued a proclamation on June 19, 1865, giving freedom to people who didn’t know they’d long been freed.

Presented by the Elegba Folklore Society, Richmond celebrates that history with a weekend of events geared toward enhancing cultural understanding in a larger sense.

The society’s director, Janine Bell, sees Juneteenth as not only commemorating the physical liberation, but also as a means to focus on the mental and spiritual liberation many African descendants still are trying to achieve while seeking a sense of identity and purpose in 21st-century America.

“Africans in America have shaped what this country is in every area,” Bell says. “Acknowledgement is key, as are place and identity. We make change by our choices. African-Americans are standing on very strong ancestral shoulders. Life is an intertwined continuum. Celebration is freedom, itself.”

Kicking off Friday, the three-day event begins with history, moves on to an independence party and concludes with an ancestor-honoring ceremony.

Friday’s symposium features historian and author Anthony T. Browder speaking on “Africans in America and the Paradox of Liberty” at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School. It is the weekend’s only ticketed event, all others are free.

Saturday’s backyard party takes place at the Manchester Dock from 1 to 6 p.m. and is geared to families. Myriad activities, both educational and fun – a Get Woke Youth Summit on cultural education, heritage crafts for children, jump rope and hula hoop contests, African dance and drum workshops – accompany food, a Freedom Market, performances by Elegba Folklore Society’s dance company and an opportunity for people to experience the Trail of Enslaved Africans.

Crowning the Juneteenth celebration on Sunday will be a cultural ceremony to honor African ancestors from 4 – 6 p.m. at the African Burial Ground on 16th Street with pageantry, drumming and song. Participants are encouraged to bring an offering for the altar and don African or white clothing.

“History is the story of how we got to today. It provides clarity and perspective for our choices now and tomorrow,” Bell says. “Children are our future. Let’s be sure they are wise.”

Juneteenth 2017, A Freedom Celebration is held June 16-18, various locations. 644-3900 or efsinc.org.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Two Richmond Tattoo Artists Featured on Spike TV's "Ink Master"

Posted By on Thu, Jun 8, 2017 at 12:58 PM

Tattoo artists Doom Kitten and Erin Chance are looking to bring home the title of Master Shop to Unkindness Art in Richmond by winning the Spike show "Ink Master:Shop Wars."
  • Tattoo artists Doom Kitten and Erin Chance are looking to bring home the title of Master Shop to Unkindness Art in Richmond by winning the Spike show "Ink Master:Shop Wars."

Richmond tattoo artists Erin Chance and Doom Kitten from Unkindess Art on Broad Street are squaring off against 16 other artists on season nine of the popular Spike TV show, "Ink Master: Shop Wars." The show airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m.

Winners of the competition split $200,000 and the first ever title of Master Shop.

The first episode premiered this week and the RVA team already has won an early flash challenge. You can watch the entire episode online.

Chance is co-owner of Unkindness Art with tattoo artist Teresa Sharp, who earned a huge social media following after winning season two of the Lifetime show "Best Ink" in 2013.

Here's a little more on the current RVA contestants from the Spike producers:

And their competitors:

Monday, June 5, 2017

RVA Street Art Festival 2017 to Be Held at the Diamond

Posted By on Mon, Jun 5, 2017 at 12:45 PM

A photo from the RVA Street Art Festival held on Earth Day in Manchester, April 23, 2016.
  • A photo from the RVA Street Art Festival held on Earth Day in Manchester, April 23, 2016.

The RVA Street Art Festival has finally "gone nuts" in the words of organizer Jon Baliles. It will be held this year, Sept. 22 through Sept. 24, at the Diamond, home to the Richmond Flying Squirrels.

Organizers with the Richmond Flying Squirrels and the Street Art Festival plan to update the ballpark's generally gray, concrete appearance with colorful local murals and artwork.

Longtime Richmond muralist Ed Trask said in a news conference this morning that the art will include murals as well sculptures, installations, videos and sound works.

"We have a huge opportunity to create something very positive here using art," he said. "We can do things that let people have this inclusive event with art, baseball and family. It can happen. Now we have the challenge of creating and using this canvas, and we're really excited."

A Times Dispatch article on this morning's conference noted that all funds will come from sponsors, none from public money.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Civil Rights Attorney Mentions Two Richmond Bands in News Conference Defending Comedian Kathy Griffin

Update: Gwar invites comedian to join them onstage in decapitating Trump.

Posted By on Fri, Jun 2, 2017 at 2:08 PM

A screen grab from a press conference this morning featuring attorney Lisa Bloom and her client, Kathy Griffin, who complained of being bullied by the Trump family.
  • A screen grab from a press conference this morning featuring attorney Lisa Bloom and her client, Kathy Griffin, who complained of being bullied by the Trump family.

If you follow the news at all, you probably know that one female comedian has had a worse week than anyone else.

Kathy Griffin, the red-headed national comic who posed for a photo shoot with a fake, severed head of Donald Trump, has taken it from all sides for the gruesome stunt. The outrage has been widespread nationally, prompting death threats, the loss of multiple jobs and several other employment opportunities. She has been contacted by the Secret Service and has had to retain a criminal lawyer.

Even our local daily, the Richmond Times-Dispatch, found it necessary to write an editorial with the headline that her severed head stunt "set a new low in public discourse."

Never mind that this is an entertainer, a comedian, known for pushing boundaries. And never mind that our former president suffered similar stunts, many at the hands of Ted Nugent, a radio talk show host who has threatened President Obama and still been invited by Trump to the White House.

Some of Richmond's best metal bands have been doing this exact thing for years. It's an irony that wasn't lost on Griffin's civil rights attorney, Lisa Bloom, who spoke with the comedian during an emotional news conference this morning (see below). She mentions two Richmond bands, Municipal Waste and Gwar, during her First Amendment defense of Griffin's parody of the president.

"Many male artists have created far more disturbing imagery," she told reporters. "A Marilyn Manson music video shows him beheading a Trump figure. The band Municipal Waste has an image of Trump with a bloody gunshot to his head on a band t-shirt. The band G-W-A-R has had violent images like this for president after president for years. They're all just considered bad boys. Unlike these male artists, Kathy apologized."

You should watch the whole video here:

Tony Foresta, lead singer for Municipal Waste, had this to say via e-mail to Style from a national tour stop:

"We did this shit two years ago, get with the times, Kathy. Haha, just kidding! For years comedians, actors, musicians, (literally everyone), have been speaking out against Trump, not just metal bands. I don't understand why people are making such a big deal now. I think it's pretty messed up that she's basically being singled out because she's a prominent female comedian. I feel that people from all walks of life should have equal rights in desecrating Trump's bloody corpse. Welcome to the club, Kathy!"

Gwar should have a response to this overbaked incident coming shortly. You'll want to check back for that, if you know anything about Gwar responses. When it comes to severed heads of political figures, this band is the authority.

UPDATE: Beefcake the Mighty, bass player for Gwar, has responded and says that the band, which has a new album out on Metal Blade this fall, is about to leave for its summer Warped tour, hitting major cities across the country. He's got a special offer for Griffin.

"We'd like to invite Kathy Griffin to join us on stage in decapitating Trump, then we'd like to kill her," he says. "She and her lawyer need to learn how to say Gwar. It's not an acronym. It's a guttural feeling. You just have to belt it out."

Aesthetically speaking, Beefcake says that the severed head prop used in the photo was "about as good" as one of theirs.

"We've been killing presidents for years now and we'll continue," he adds. "We don't discriminate. We're not into politics and we hate all humans. We'll kill everyone."

Thursday, June 1, 2017

VCU Alums Collaborate With Bio Ritmo Singer for Netflix Soundtrack

Posted By on Thu, Jun 1, 2017 at 12:45 AM

Smooth tenor singer Rei Alvarez (Bio Ritmo, Miramar) has a new song, "Conquista y Poder" on the soundtrack to the Netflix original movie, "Small Crimes," due out June 9.
  • Smooth tenor singer Rei Alvarez (Bio Ritmo, Miramar) has a new song, "Conquista y Poder" on the soundtrack to the Netflix original movie, "Small Crimes," due out June 9.

I've been thinking for awhile that Bio Ritmo should have its music in more films. The group's touring has slowed somewhat, but the music sounds as good as ever and still deserves a wider audience in the States.

Looks like my hope is starting to come true -- at least for one member of the band -- thanks to a pair of former Virginia Commonwealth University students.

Brooke and Will Blair, known as the Blair Brothers, are making a name for themselves scoring Sundance-worthy indie films such as "Blue Ruin," "Green Room" and "I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore."

Now based in Philadelphia, the brothers recently called on veteran Richmond musician Rei Alvarez, lead singer for Bio Ritmo, to contribute a track for the Netflix original film, "Small Crimes." The Latin fusion number, "Conquista y Poder," and the rest of the soundtrack will be available via the brothers' own label, Wayfind Records, in digital and streaming formats on June 9.

The track does not feature Bio Ritmo the group, Alvarez says. Instead, he was contacted to write lyrics and sing for a previously scored track.

"The track was actually inspired by one of Bio Ritmo's original major influences, Marvin Santiago, when he was singing for the Bobby Valentín orchestra," Alvarez says. "So, being a fan, I was immediately moved to come up with lyrics for the situation in the film they had described. I made a rough recording, they loved it, and then I laid down vocal tracks at Joshua Camp's (also a Richmonder) apartment in Brooklyn. At the time I was on tour with Miramar, but everything worked out perfectly. ... It was super cool to work with Will, and Josh is always awesome. Really a great experience for me."

From the producers of "Drive" and "Whiplash," the quirky crime saga stars Nikolaj Coster-Waldau ("Game of Thrones") and Molly Parker ("House of Cards") and is directed by Evan Katz ("24"). It's got a stellar supporting cast, too, including Robert Forster and Gary Cole.

I haven't watched it yet, but knowing one of my favorite Richmond performers is on the soundtrack means I'll definitely check it out. (I just finished the Netflix documentary series, "The Keepers," and am still recovering from that chilling murder mystery. Damn that was dark stuff.)

“We’re not often asked to compose Latin music. When [director] Evan asked us we immediately thought of our old friends in Bio Ritmo to help," said Will Blair in a news release. "Rei’s voice brought so much life, and helped to juxtapose an otherwise tense and heavy score.”

Alvarez explains the premise for the scene in the film is two troubled souls joining for a dance in a divey bar. "The song plays in the background. So I made the song about conquest and power, two participants in the same dance."

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