Various artists, works for the Revel fundraiser at The Bridge/Progressive Arts Initiative; Through April 25; Live auction 8pm

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Various artists, works for the Revel fundraiser at The Bridge/Progressive Arts Initiative; Through April 25; Live auction 8pm

Just for a few days this week, you can go to The Bridge and see a top-shelf collection of largely local art. It’ll be hanging in anticipation of Saturday’s Revel, a fundraising auction and party, and I recommend you start your visit by gazing at David Ellis’s piece.

Not just child’s play: The Bridge/Progressive Arts Initiative auctions prime local art (including works like Megan Marlatt’s “Toys in a Pile 2”) to raise money during its first annual Revel.

It’s a large surface onto which he’s glued printed-out e-mails, mostly pertaining to a complicated installation Ellis created in 2004 in Winston-Salem. The messages document Ellis and venue staff coordinating a host of details—technology, scheduling, etc.—and they prove that to be a working artist is not just about solitary creation or divine inspiration. It’s also about planning and organization. You have to be practical.

Over the printouts, in black and grey, Ellis has painted a swirling abstract form very much like the one he painted on the outside of the Bridge itself. So this piece is the perfect emblem for the Revel: The Bridge, having established itself as a vital artspace for Charlottesville, is raising money to continue helping artists with all those practical concerns.

Not incidentally, the pieces up for auction are a stellar bunch. There are donations from a lineup of local stars (Richard Crozier, Edward Thomas, Robin Braun, Cynthia Burke) as well as some younger artists. There are paintings, photographs, a video piece by Lydia Moyer and a prop from a film by Kevin Everson.

One highlight, for my money, is William Wylie’s pair of photographs from his series on the marble quarry at Carrara, Italy. They show enormous chunks of marble resting on bare ground, displaying scratches and marks from machinery, water, and ancient geologic processes. The images seem simple, but they speak to questions of intention (the human act of separating rock from the earth) and usefulness (the special potential of this particular raw material, the stone preferred by Michelangelo).

Also keep an eye out for some intriguing new work from Patrick Costello (a Bridge stalwart and an Aunspaugh fellow at UVA), a lovely and mysterious piece by show curator Clay Witt, and Megan Marlatt’s haunting depiction of a pile of plastic kids’ toys. There will be a lot of fine work in the room, just as there is a wealth of committed artists in Charlottesville. With the recent loss of so much gallery space here, The Bridge emerges as a more necessary institution than ever. Help out if you can.

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