Well, two things. I’m working on a play that’s based on a work of art I did several years ago called “Mapping the Dark: A Museum of Ambient Disorders.” Fran Smith and I are doing this together—she’s directing it and we are developing a stage presentation for the 10 characters that I created for the original work of art. So it will be a multimedia affair. I’ve enlisted 10 different writers to contribute an extended life to each of the characters I’ve developed, and we’re in the process of workshopping it.
Asked her guilty pleasure, Rosamond Casey, member artist at McGuffey Arts Center, says, “Eating pickled herring… I can’t stand looking at it, so I have to eat one piece a day out of the jar in a darkened room, so that I can’t see what it looks like.”
I’m also working on a science and art project that was launched about a year ago, with a psychologist named David Waters. We’re developing a set of images that will function as a card game, which can be used to stimulate verbal communication between two players with the minimum amount of emotional static. It’s a fun game; it takes people a little bit to the edge, but it also places people into kind of a pleasant state of interaction. It’ll be used in therapeutic environments, but also between any two people—friends, husband/wife, mother/child, and so on.
Tell us about your day job.
I go to the McGuffey Arts Center every day in the morning and come home in the afternoon. My whole life is there except for the life I have at home—which is a good life too. At McGuffey I’m pulled by a lot of different projects, both through the teaching that I do and McGuffey obligations, meetings and so on. But I pretty much hole up in there and get my work done.
When you’re in a creative mood, what is your favorite snack food?
Once a day, I take a walk down the hall to our executive secretary’s office. I sneak in there, reach my arm in, and pull out a mini-Mars bar from her candy bowl. That keeps me going for an hour or two.
Who is your favorite creative artist?
Francis Bacon, as a painter—something about the way he kind of hacks through the unknown with paint, so you never seem to have a clear idea of a destination, or as to where he’ll end up. His work seems more like a process than an outcome.
Tell us about a big idea that you’ve been carrying around with you.
There used to be a strange theme in my life, regarding psychological issues—the “Mapping the Dark” play is nothing but that, and so is this game, and working with David Waters has been very inspiring. But I’ve also created a class called “Art in Character,” in which I’ve asked people to develop a character over an eight-week period. I’ve taught this once already and it was really incredible…the extent to which people were really willing to shave off a little corner of what they know to be themselves, and to build a character from that. I gave them a series of exercises and things to do to activate that character’s creativity, to make things in the persona of this other character. I think it’s just endlessly fascinating, how this enlarges a person’s sense of who they are.
What would you say is inspiring about Charlottesville right now?
McGuffey Arts Center is inspiring to me right now. It’s kind of in its heyday, I think—I’ve never seen such good art emanating from that place. I think it’s alive through a lot of different programs and activities. Sometimes I see McGuffey through the eyes of someone who has never been to McGuffey, and it’s amazing how you have the opportunity to walk down the corridors and see artists at work in their open studios.
Three years before the Ramones launched their iconic schtick, a trio of brothers started the first American proto-punk band in Detroit. They wrote short, fast songs with driving rhythms and lyrics about politics, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll, and of course, existential crises. Their pure
The Wood and the Wild The Wood and the Wild/self-released Singer-songwriter Jon Perry is spot-on when he refers to this debut recording as “supernatural cinematic folk.” Part concept record, part proverbial soundtrack to your life, the album manages to amble along with a sense of purpose. The
As part of the first wave British invasion, The Zombies found American pop success in the darkly melodic “She’s Not There,” and disbanded in 1968, moments before “Time of the Season” topped the charts. After pursuing rewarding solo careers, the founding members have recently regrouped and made
What’s with all the Kevin Costner movies lately? In the past 12 months he’s appeared in Man of Steel, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, and 3 Days to Kill. Given the quality of these movies, maybe he should have stayed semi-retired. It’s not like the movies he made beforehand were much better, but at
With a few simple plot twists, the characters in UVA Drama’s A Flea in Her Ear set off on an increasingly outrageous romp through a variety of misunderstood lover’s cues. Impotence, jealousy, attempted murder, and entrapment combine to make this Belle Époque farce into a laugh riot from the
The beauty of the Blue Ridge is an unparalleled testament to nature’s splendor, and the Wild & Scenic Film Festival showcases that magic through a dazzling collection of documentaries from around the region. The festival dives headfirst into the wild, capturing breathtaking moments while
Like most great jazz musicians, guitarist Charlie Hunter never gets complacent in his craft. Since emerging from California’s Bay Area in the early ’90s, the innovative ax slinger has defied convention by expanding the parameters of a guitarist’s role. The versatility starts with the ingenuity
Larry Keel, Virginia bluegrass legend, has lost it. Fortunately, he thinks he can find the old magic anytime he wants. “My beard and I have recently become separated,” Keel said. “But it will be back.” Over the years, Keel has sported a number of facial hairstyles, perhaps none more
Three graphic designers decide to start a band… It sounds like the beginning of a joke about Brooklyn, but is actually the basis of the inspirational documentary If We Shout Loud Enough about Baltimore’s now defunct trio Double Dagger. Started as a concept band, Double Dagger gained a
Bandmates come and go. It’s just a fact of the music business, according to Justin Ringle, who’s been fronting the Portland, Oregon-based indie folk outfit Horse Feathers since 2004. Most break-ups are under the radar—just musicians going about their professional lives, rather than the splashy
“I recently saw a book of Picasso’s work where they published everything he did, and between two awesome paintings were about a hundred that weren’t so great.” Warren Craghead laughed with what sounded like relief. “I remember thinking, ‘Oh, right. This is the real world. I shouldn’t feel
It may be the shrill voice of Danny Brown that catches the ear of rap enthusiasts, but it’s the lyrics that make him a modern hip-hop icon. The Detroit legend is brutally honest with his music, offering audiences the chance to view life as it occurs in an impoverished neighborhood. The
Apart they are a solitary beehive, a rogue bicycle stand, an enterprising greenhouse, a living gramophone, a micro library, a community gallery, an artist studio, a school garden shed, and a different kind of waiting room. Together they are Habitat City, a microcosm of Charlottesville culture
There’s a score to settle between the members of the famous Zac Brown Band, and they’re taking their gripes to the stage to determine who is the king of the country ballad at Clay vs. Levi: Round 2. Clay Cook lays claim to the title, boasting an impressive solo collection of rock-inspired
For many, Brazil conjures images of rain forests, samba dancers, and favelas. It’s also the host country for this year’s World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. A great deal of news coverage has detailed both the construction that has gone into preparations for these global sporting events as well as
Nici Cumpston sees landscape art as more than the simple depiction of world locales. Through photography, she tells the story of a place, preserves the history of a people, and enriches our understanding of the human experience. Her newest collection, titled “having-been-there,” focuses on
In a music market that’s dominated by a cacophony of artificial noise, it’s always a pleasure to discover a band that embraces purity. Over the Rhine has reduced its music to a healthy core of soulful melodies and gorgeous lyrics. The lead songwriter, Linford Detweller, is a man whose modest
Inventions Inventions/Temporary Residence Ltd. The mark of a truly great artist is one that despite being entrenched in a genre, still has the power to surprise you. Inventions is the side project of Matthew Cooper (Eluvium) and Mark T. Smith (Explosions in the Sky), and just as atmospheric
Forget all of the hype surrounding Noah. What really matters is whether the movie is any good. It isn’t. To paraphrase Edward Burns, it is dull, dreary, dry and a bore. Noah—and by implication its director and co-screenwriter Darren Aronofsky—can’t decide whether it’s a big head trip (an
First Fridays is a monthly art event featuring exhibit openings at many Downtown art galleries and additional exhibition venues. Several spaces offer receptions. Listings are compiled in collaboration with Piedmont Council for the Arts. To list an exhibit, please send information two weeks