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Home is Where the Art Is 

Two Richmond artists show their work around the house.

“Going to a gallery and putting up paintings is not satisfying to everyone,” Colwell explains. For her new installation, “Dwelling,” Colwell spent more than a year transforming the entrance, hallway, living and dining rooms of her Oregon Hill home into a work of art. Using evocative materials such as eggshells, beeswax, gaudy wallpaper, flannel, sod, video and audio, she addresses feelings of attachment, fragility and memory. She creates a sense of surprise and discomfort, making one more attentive to the smells, textures and voices that seem to emanate from the walls.

While her decision to transform parts of her home into an installation is partially a practical decision based on the nature of the piece, she’s also interested in exploring the possibilities of an unconventional space.

Similarly, Todd Hale, working above Art 6 on Broad Street, has converted this gallery space into his own apartment, studio and personal gallery. Like Colwell, Hale is also interested in the total artistic environment, while taking a different approach.

Primarily a mixed-media painter, Hale uses his home as both a studio area and a showplace, exhibiting paintings alongside the pottery, sculpture and photography of his acquaintances. Like other galleries in town, he opens his home up to the public every first Friday. However, instead of showcasing an artist’s complete body of work, Hale’s space reveals a more open process.

“I wanted to approach my new work as a real direct form of communicating with people, a conversation,” Hale says. With an opening every month, Hale is motivated to keep creating, rearranging, and transforming his paintings, revealing not a finished body of work but one that is constantly evolving.

In this casual environment, Hale hosts gallery goers, musicians, artists and other interested individuals. Taking advantage of his location and the burgeoning artistic scene, Hale invites crowds into his personal space. The artwork is merely one element of the entire experience: the live band, the interaction between people, the libations and the conversations that arise. As Hale relates, “Art can be a great focal point for people to get together and have a good time.” Wanting to return a sense of spontaneity, community and enjoyment to the art scene, Hale’s apartment encourages such an environment.

Taking two very different approaches, Colwell and Hale say their homes provide a more casual interaction with their creations — unrestricted by gallery constraints of time, space and accessibility. They have complete control over what is shown: where, when and how. Whether heightening awareness of and associations to the home itself or encouraging casual conversation, these unconventional spaces reveal a desire to transform and expand our experience of art. S

Todd Hale’s next show also features work by Sam and Mel Worthington and music by Giraffe, opening takes place April 2 at 6 E. Broad St. You can also view his work at www.toddshale.com. Virginia Colwell’s installation “Dwelling” is not open to the public.

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