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.
Jeff Bridges reunited with the Coen brothers in the 2010 Oscar-nominated Western drama, True Grit, based on Charles Portis’ novel of the same name. Seeking revenge for her father’s murder, cantankerous farm girl Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) hires the surly U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn
William Fitzsimmons Lions/Nettwerk Records Lions is a towering achievement. A deeply personal record loaded with gravitas, the album feels like Fitzsimmons’ confessional or at the very least a reflection on life, love, death, moving on, and his relationships. From the opening strains of the
Take a family-friendly romp through the 1960s in Four County Players’ production of the mod musical Bye Bye Birdie. When teen heartthrob Conrad Birde is drafted into the Army, his agent plans to send him off in style with one last kiss from a lucky fan. Based on the legend of Elvis Presley’s
Is there any way to appropriately review 300: Rise of an Empire? This is a movie that has—whether it knows it or not—no ideology or purpose or ambition to be anything but a blood-and-guts spectacle on a massive scale. In fact, the blood and guts are so prevalent and unsparing they grow
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
During a stormy summer holiday, Mary Shelley and her companions were challenged by their host Lord Byron to see who could compose the best ghost story. After a few fretful days devoid of inspiration, the tale of Frankenstein revealed itself to her in a lucid dream. Gorilla Theater presents a
“Social sculpture is the idea that whenever we’re shaping our own lives to be more beautiful, it’s an intentional act to bring more beauty or well-being into the world,” said Kate Daughdrill, a Detroit-based artist, farmer, and teacher who graduated from UVA. Daughdrill is one of 20-plus
When Juan Wauters emigrated from Uruguay to Queens, New York in the early aughts, he brought a love of music that was nurtured into maturity in the borough that brought us the Ramones. In his debut solo record, N.A.P. North American Poetry, Wauters delivers effortless hooks and sentimental
I’m tinkering with a new free app, and I’m totally hooked. I’m looking at my iPhone every five seconds to see if there’s a number next to the app icon, evidence I have the all-important new “notification.” I’m opening the app every five minutes to see if my feed has updated. I’m telling all my
There’s a line in the song “So Lonely” by The Police that seems relevant when discussing the Academy Awards: “No surprise, no mystery.” Was anyone surprised that Chiwetel Ejiofor, who gave the best performance in the most important movie of 2013 (that’s 12 Years a Slave), lost out to Matthew
When Andy Friedman enrolled in the Rhode Island School of Design, he devoted himself to Venetian oil painting, a skill so intricate that each work takes an average of three years to finish. “I knew that after college I would have to get a job, and I wanted to know the feeling of complete and
By now we’re all familiar with Luc Besson’s oeuvre, right? You may remember him as the writer responsible for resurrecting Liam Neeson’s career with Taken, a movie in which young women can do nothing for themselves while older men beat the shit out of other men who would do the women harm. With
Wye Oak’s 2011 long player, Civilian, was the band’s breakout record. It was the third release from the duo of Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack, and their first for the vaunted North Carolina indie label Merge. It was a profile-raising album, and one of the most highly lauded recordings of that year,
Sunny California meets the Aloha spirit in the alt-reggae troupe Iration, comprised of childhood friends Joseph Dickens, Adam Taylor, Cayson Peterson, Micah Pueschel, and Joseph King. The five-piece is currently gigging on its third release, Automatic, which features a collaboration with Cage
For Americans seeking a good introduction to the appeal of martial arts films in general, and the talents of Bruce Lee in particular, the obvious starting point is usually Enter the Dragon. By 1973, action movies had already dominated the Hong Kong film industry for decades, but Dragon – an
Mention hand drums to most metal heads and you’re likely to get virulent responses, or worse. But the members of local band Blooddrunk Troll prove that hippie drums can be hardcore. John Jones, the dark master of the hand drum, bangs out serious beats on his djembe, laying the foundation for
The American Shakespeare Center in Staunton reached two milestones this season: the quarter-century mark and the completion of Shakespeare’s canon. All but two of the 38 plays we attribute to Shakespeare were published in the First Folio in 1623, and with its current production of Timon of
Experience runs thicker than blood with dynamic folksters Kopecky Family Band. Shared circumstances rather than chromosomes drew the six Nashville natives together to form a group with thoughtful, emotive lyrics and booming, intelligent musical arrangements. Its latest record, Kids Raising
Tucked away on Fourth Street NE just off the Downtown Mall, Telegraph Gallery still feels a bit like a secret portal to a different world. The hand-painted letters on the storefront windows tug at passersby with the promise of things both unknown and exciting. At once a gallery, bookstore,
Brett Dennen has a knack for writing upbeat hits. At least once on each album, he lays down a jaunty single that toe-taps its way up the charts. It turns out, that’s exactly in line with Dennen’s personality. Preparing to get on a jam cruise out of Miami on Valentine’s Day, Dennen was giddy—and