“It’s a fascinating place. It’s in my neighborhood, within walking distance from my house, but I had no idea it was there,” says filmmaker Jason Robinson, describing Moore’s Creek Wastewater Treatment plant. This type of facility probably doesn’t top most people’s list of neighborhood places to explore, but the allure was quick to present itself to Robinson.
He first encountered the spot while leading a Light House Studio field trip for a documentary project at Moore’s Creek in collaboration with the Rivanna Conservation Society. “While helping [the students] film, I was immediately taken with the entire place,” Robinson recalls. “The various structures and machines are situated in a very particular way that reminded me more of a sculpture park than an industrial waste facility.” Along with the machinery, the wastewater itself inspired Robinson to return and shoot his own video.
This week, he will display the results of this effort, a 16-minute silent video titled Wastewater, as part of the “Sustainability” exhibition at Second Street Gallery. It’s a meditation on our environment and the ways we adapt it for our needs, that’s both horrifying and strangely beautiful.
“I love that this idea was started during a project with Light House and is premiering across the Live Arts lobby at Second Street Gallery,” says Robinson. “Just like the wastewater, my video is completing its journey right where it started but in a completely new form.”
The wastewater plays a starring role in an abstracted form, sharing the screen with flickering light and the large machinery that originally caught Robinson’s eye. The video will play on a loop in the gallery for the duration of the exhibition, so that viewers can stop in to see it anytime in the coming weeks. For one night only, though, Wastewater will feature musical accompaniment by Ryan Maguire.
On December 11, Maguire will perform a live soundtrack collage for the video, using CD players and digital recordings. “The use of refurbished digital technology highlights the idea of refuse and is a reminder of forced obsolescence,” says Maguire. “I wanted to make a collage of the sounds of motors and engines generating air pollution in juxtaposition to Jason’s footage of wastewater to draw attention to all the ways in which these two things are similar and distinct.” The two artists have collaborated in the past on projects that involve live video manipulation by Robinson as well as other improvisational accompaniments by Maguire, who is currently a Ph.D. student in composition and computer technologies at UVA.
“Ryan was the only person I thought of for this,” says Robinson. “I am constantly amazed by every single thing he makes. I sent him the video and a few notes about my process, but I know very little about what he is doing and what it will sound like. His performance is going to be a surprise for me too and I can’t wait to hear it.” Afterwards, Robinson will give a short talk about his work, including the nine lenticular prints he has on display in the main gallery exhibition for “Sustainability.” The video installation and exhibition will remain on display through January 30.
On December 12, Second Street will host the first annual Gallery Rally, encouraging bystanders and art collectors alike to visit the gallery to witness the creative process—and maybe even go home with an original piece of artwork or two.
Based on a model that’s become popular around the country, the Gallery Rally features a roomful of local artists, all creating original drawings for one afternoon.
“I think drawing is a basis for a lot of artists’ work and is a really good way [for others] to begin to understand their process and thinking,” says SSG Executive Director Warren Craghead. The public is invited to watch them work, and each piece will be available for sale as soon as it’s finished. “We have so many strong artists here in Charlottesville and so many people who are engaged with and support the arts that we thought a party like this will be a great way to bring them together,” Craghead says.
Craghead will also be among the participating artists, along with local painter Sarah Boyts Yoder and almost 30 others. Together, the Rally group represents a wide swath of local talent, including illustrators, sculptors, printmakers and other artists.
Inspired by the Monster Drawing Rally at 1708 Gallery in Richmond and similar events, the event was instigated by the gallery’s Fun Committee, of which Yoder is a member. “With this event, SSG is engaging and showcasing the incredible local talent that is thriving here in Charlottesville, and giving Charlottesvillians a chance to experience it in an intimate and first-hand way,” says Yoder.
The event continues Second Street’s long tradition of community outreach events for kids and adults alike. “It’s not just watching artists work…it’s being in the room as so many are creating at the same time,” Yoder adds. “What amazing energy.”
The Gallery Rally event will take place from 4-7pm on December 12. Admission is $5 (for ages 12 and older), and all drawings will be available to purchase for $50.
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