Elizabeth Derby



William Ferguson and Brenda Patterson and tackle traditional opera from a gay perspective in Ghost House, an updated version of Robert Schumann’s song cycles. Publicity photo

Victory Hall Opera vocalizes the gay experience in Ghost House

At Juilliard, up-and-coming opera singers learn the art of method acting: channeling their personal experience into the emotions they express on stage. But for mezzo-soprano Brenda Patterson, the acting never stopped. “As a gay person, that’s sort of what you feel like you are doing a lot of the time in real life. You are […]

Kevin Everson’s “Rough and Unequal” is on exhibit at The Fralin Museum of Art through April 16. His work is also featured in the Whitney Biennial 2017 that begins on March 17. Image courtesy of the artist

Kevin Everson looks to the night sky for comment on history

It’s a busy, blustery Tuesday on Grounds. Outside The Fralin Museum of Art, UVA students rush by in droves, pulling overcoats tight against the wind. Inside, I stand in darkness staring at craters on the moon. The air is hot and loud, filled by the whir and clank of unsteady projectors shining on gallery walls. […]

Explore The Art of Failure with Devon Sproule (pictured), Lulu Miller and David Zahl at Meade Hall on March 6. Photo by Amelia Schmid

Stories of how failures lead to successes

As consumers, we’re inundated by success. Hit records, blockbuster movies, the latest app. Creators, on the other hand, are surrounded by failures. They churn out ideas—some brilliant, some bad—and create until something sticks. How do they find the guts to fail their way to success? Three accomplished local artists are opening up in The Art […]

Love Letters starring Linda Poser and Kenneth H. Waller runs through February 12 at Four County Players. Photo by Linda Hogan

Romance grows through correspondence at Four County Players

Hollywood tells us that romance unfolds in a montage, in sparkling date nights and lazy Sunday mornings and in the inescapable gravity of consistent, insistent closeness. But as a veteran of long-distance relationships (I’m talking 10,000-mile commutes), I can attest that sometimes love grows in our absence from each other. The space that separates two […]

James Yates, Beryl Solla and Polly Tarbell were part of the Charlottesville contingent that marched in Washington, D.C.

Stacey Evans

From the front lines at the Women’s March

At 4:49am on Saturday morning, I woke up just south of Washington, D.C., my eyes wide open and my stomach flipping. My friend Abigail and I had driven up the night before, to join the Women’s March on Washington. Per the organizers’ instructions, we packed clear plastic bags, loading up on wet wipes and fancy […]

Broocks Willich stars as Esmerelda Scrooge in Gorilla Theater Productions' twist on the Dickens' classic.  An Xmas Carol plays at the special events space at IX Art Park through January 15.

Gorilla Theater puts a final twist on the holidays

Last year was exhausting, right? No wonder people pushed themselves to have the merriest holiday of their lives in 2016. Online sales hit the highest mark ever during Black Friday weekend. Consumers wanted, more than ever, to escape real life and celebrate in tinsel wonderlands. Now that you’ve digested plenty of fa-la-las and other family […]

Charlottesville artist Matthew P. Shelton and Trinidadian artist Nikolai M. Noel’s (above)collaboration “contested bodies” is at Second Street Gallery through January 19. Courtesy Second Street Gallery

Observations on privilege and amnesia at Second Street Gallery

Despite living 2,100 miles apart, Charlottesville artist Matthew P. Shelton and Trinidadian artist Nikolai M. Noel are close friends. They met in Virginia Commonwealth University’s MFA program, where they studied painting and printmaking, and were interested in the influence of colonialism and its aftermath on the creation of human identity. “We were both making work […]

A sketch by Bishnu Maya Tamang from Bhutan is part of the “World Art Exhibit” on display at downtown’s Central Library (second floor) now through the end of the year. Image courtesy of the artist

Refugees make new connections through art

Rarely do so many Americans feel divided, separated and isolated from one another as they have during this political season. Our inability to communicate and connect with one another as countrymen feels like an affront. For the thousands of refugees who flee violence, persecution, human trafficking or torture in their native countries in crisis, then […]

Artist-in-residence Damien Shen’s “Self-Portrait #2” is on display at Kluge-Ruhe through December 18. Courtesy of the artist

Artist Damien Shen finds motivation in his past

Like many creatives, Damien Shen spent most of his adult life focused on building a career instead of a formal art practice. But in 2013, the South Australia native and current Kluge-Ruhe artist-in-residence realized he had a calling. He just needed to work out what it was. “I did this journey down the east coast […]

The Hart App aims to take modern dating beyond the surface and connect people through their art. Photo courtesy of Scott Webb

Dating app for creative types makes a C’ville debut

The last time I went on an online date, I found myself at Buffalo Wild Wings with a guy named Tony. It was 2010, and I was living on the New Jersey shore at the time. (He was actually the second Tony I’d gone out with, it being the Jersey shore.) I remember feeling…underwhelmed. Missing […]

Victory Hall Opera’s Miriam Gordon-Stewart plays the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier for the show’s first performances in Virginia, at PVCC on August 14, 17 and 20. Photo: Publicity photo

Found letters put C’ville at the heart of a German opera

Since its debut in 1911, opera-lovers have considered Der Rosenkavalier a masterpiece of the repertoire. The German comedy follows the story of the Marschallin (Princess Marie Thérèse von Werdenberg) as she decides to end her affair with a younger man and save another woman from an unhappy marriage. More than a century later, on the […]

Amie Whittemore reads at the launch party of her poetry collection, Glass Harvest, at New Dominion Bookshop on Thursday. Photo: Publicity photo

Poet Amie Whittemore finds growth in Glass Harvest

For some new readers, poetry feels light years away from reality. It reads like a dense abstraction—the literary equivalent of a modernist painting that makes you tilt your head sideways and wonder what the heck you are missing. But when poet Amie Whittemore first found poetry, the self-described “voracious reader” felt like someone flicked on […]

Art activist Amelia Williams reads from her new book, Walking Wildwood Trail: Poems and Photographs, on June 5 at Afton Mountain Vineyards. Photo: Courtesy of the artist

Amelia Williams uses sculpture and poetry to protest pipeline

Artists-turned-activists typically use their work to amplify awareness about an issue. Increased publicity, the thinking goes, inspires action in the field. But poet Amelia Williams has found a way to leverage art as a direct blocking and delay tactic in the fight against fracked gas pipelines and compressor stations. “In 2014, when we learned about […]

See “A Consideration of Bees” and attend educational beekeeping events at Chroma’s pop-up space, located at 853 W. Main St., through May 28. Images: Courtesy Chroma Projects

Chroma pop-up show brings the life of bees into focus

Artist Elsabe Dixon doesn’t remember how she learned to raise silkworms. But after she successfully encouraged 8,000 of them to spin silk in the hollows of her experimental living sculptures, the South African native began to wonder. “I did a little bit of research and realized that I’m a descendant of the French Huguenots, and […]

Dreamgirls opens on Friday at Live Arts with Kim Riley, Darkita Brown, Valencia Harvey and Deandra Irving as The Dreamettes. “I feel blessed by the experience of getting so many new people together to learn about what theater is, how you make a show and bringing that love together,” says director Julie Hamberg. Photo: Rammelkamp Foto

Live Arts closes its anniversary season with Dreamgirls

Right now, there’s a debate raging about the American dream. What does it look like? Who is it for? And what will we sacrifice in order to achieve it? The debate itself isn’t new. Art has always asked these questions. And Live Arts offers a poignant example with Dreamgirls, which caps off the theater’s 25th […]

UVA alum Samantha Macher’s The Arctic Circle (and a recipe for Swedish pancakes) stars (clockwise from left) Natalie Pernick, Emily Yates, Yvonne Fox and Amanda Diamond, and runs through April 9 at the Helms Theatre. Photo: Michael Bailey

Full circle: Samantha Macher returns to UVA drama as a playwright

In high school, playwright Samantha Macher staged a revolt. “We got a new drama teacher my senior year who canceled the spring musical because he just couldn’t figure out how to use any of us,” says the self-proclaimed theater nerd. “I wound up writing, directing and producing the spring musical. I was like, ‘Screw this.’” […]

“The Vow” is included in the exhibition “Two Kinds of Luck” by Liz Rodda at Second Street Gallery now through February 26. Photo: Courtesy of the artist

Double take: Liz Rodda pairs up the unexpected at Second Street Gallery

Ever notice how a small shift in perspective can transform the way you think about your job, relationship, insert-your-life-struggle-here? Liz Rodda is a mixed-media artist who sharpens viewers’ abilities to reframe what they see by partnering two totally unrelated works in a mash-up of videos, sound and sculpture. Unlike a traditional collage artist who combines […]

Artist Alyssa Pheobus Mumtaz discusses her interdisciplinary textile work at an open studio in New City Arts Initiative’s Welcome Gallery on January 28. Photo: Courtesy the artist

Art as craft: The modern contemplation of ancient practices

Contemplation is having a resurgence in the popular consciousness these days, with mindfulness festival studios, pop-up meditation groups and even the University of Virginia’s own Contemplative Sciences Center. But for centuries, artists have practiced contemplation as a necessary companion of creation. “A lot of artists working today like to define contemplativity broadly as a means […]

Photographer Keith Alan Sprouse has been documenting the performers’ daily routine at Charlottesville Ballet and will be showing his images in 2016. Photo: Courtesy the artist

New year notions: Local artists look ahead at 2016

Ah, the new year. That time when thoughts turn to starry-eyed dreams, impossibly slim waistlines and the vague notion that if we could just pull away our bad habits like Clark Kent’s suit jacket, we’d find Super(wo)man underneath. After two years interviewing local artists (and 31 years living as one), I can officially say that […]