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Great art found at venues large and small in 2000. 

Memorable Achievements

Tis the season of selection when shoppers are picking out gift-worthy goods and critics are singling out the superlatives of the year. The best thing that this tradition means is that some very memorable achievements will be recalled and recognized; the worst is that some very fine and deserving efforts will go unacknowledged. Nonetheless, thank you to everyone in the arts for all you do to define, nurture and present it, whether it is mentioned in this year-end roundup or not. Style Weekly visual arts reviewer Jenny Ramirez and I felt the most extraordinary exhibition of the year to be the "Vanitas" show presented by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. It was elegant, intelligent, ambitious and groundbreaking. Other group exhibitions that deserve particular recognition are: "Nine Lives," Aquiles Adler's dicey, diabolical survey of past and recent VCU sculpture graduates; the interesting curatorial premise of 1708's "Monsters and Heroes" and its diverse interpretations; and Eric Schindler's quaint (an adjective which, like the exhibit, does not mean what you probably think it does) answer to a Christmas show "Functional Diversity II." To my taste, the most poignant, provocative and sensory enriched installation award should go to "Terra" by Jacqueline Bishop at the Anderson Gallery. It transcended the norm of installation art, which can occasionally occupy more space than it has an argument for. "Terra" built on a dawning awareness that developed as the viewer moved through the series of intimate little portraits of endangered birds. This experience was stalked out further by Chris Becker's haunting musical composition. The most meretorious solo exhibitions of the metro area this past year include Tanja Softic's potent metabiotic "Recent Works on Paper" at University of Richmond's Marsh Gallery; Yuriko Yamaguchi's metamorphic installation at the Hand Workshop; Paul Ryan's metaphysical "New Paintings" at Reynolds Gallery; Andrew Baxter's magically metallurgical "Cast Bronze" at Astra Gallery; and Fred Weatherford's meteoric solo show at Artspace. The most humorous art award goes to the Hand Workshop for the delightful exhibit of Robert Hudson and Richard Shaw's absurd porcelain sculpture. However "Nine Lives" gets honorable mention here as well. For the exhibition most deserving of a review that didn't happen, delivered with an apology, there was Morris Yarowsky's very lively and dischordantly musical "Paintings 1999-2000". As far as public art goes, 64 Magazine provided us with several visitations of billboard art during the past year that deserve mention. My superlative award for that program goes to Joan Gaustad's wonderful trademark, a giant baby image. I could never drive by it slowly enough to take it in to my satisfaction. Jay Paul's photographic triptych was another exceptional image-about-town. Finally, in an isolated incident at the Farmer's Market Dec. 2 "Celebrate/Illuminate," there was Alyssa Salomon's larger-than-life slide show featuring her strange little figurine protagonists posing before famous and not-so famous landmarks. Set amid the visually and musically dizzying downtown illumination, it wrapped up the end of the year with some fantastic views of the extended family on perpetual
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