Life aquatic

“Requiem for a Reef” is one of the works on view in Tina Curtis’ “Radiolaria & Reef” at Second Street Gallery’s Dové Gallery through June 19. 
Image courtesy of artist “Requiem for a Reef” is one of the works on view in Tina Curtis’ “Radiolaria & Reef” at Second Street Gallery’s Dové Gallery through June 19. Image courtesy of artist

Do you know where your oxygen comes from?

Trees, shrubs, grass, sure. But scientists estimate that at least half (and maybe even up to 85 percent) of all oxygen on planet Earth comes from phytoplankton, one-celled plants that live on the surface of the ocean, gobble up ocean nutrients and sunlight, then photosynthesize, producing oxygen.

Phytoplankton are so tiny, the human eye can only see them via microscope. And, through July 19, abstracted in paint in Tina Curtis’ “Radiolaria & Reef,” on view in the Dové Gallery at Second Street Gallery.

“With this body of work, the inspiration for me was the living abstractions in our world’s delicate oceanic ecosystems,” says Curtis—the small things that make up the vast ocean, systems such as the siliceous ooze (sediment made up of the mineral skeletons of tiny protozoa called radiolaria) on the deep ocean floor, and coral reefs, which depend on the branch-like, silica-bodied phytoplankton (a “signature” in all of Curtis’ works) for food.

Some of the pieces, such as “Osaka” and “Okinawa” celebrate the extraordinary beauty of these ecosystems, but for Curtis, celebrating that life-sustaining beauty wasn’t quite enough. Human activities such as dynamite fishing in combination with global warming have destroyed more than a quarter of the ocean’s documented reef systems. “I was motivated to bring awareness of our ocean’s plight not by simply painting pretty pictures but by depicting such events as coral bleaching and dead and dying reef systems,” she says, pointing specifically to the pieces titled “Requiem for a Reef” and “Grey Barrier Reef.”

Curtis hopes visitors to “Radiolaria & Reef” will understand that her work is meant to convey a “sense of calm” while also expressing a “sense of urgency” to act to save these systems that we have a place in, too. 

First Fridays: July 5

Chroma Projects Inside Vault Virginia, Third Street SE. “Raymond Berry: Pages from a Journal of Days,” featuring expressive landscape paintings. 5-7pm.

CitySpace 100 Fifth St. NE. “The Best of the Best,” featuring work from the Charlottesville Camera Club. 5:30-7pm.

C’ville Arts Cooperative Gallery 118 E. Main St., Downtown Mall. “Pots for Purpose,” featuring functional and artful pottery by Trina Player. 6-8pm.

Eichner Studios Gallery 2035 Bond St. #120. The work of 11 local artists working in a variety of media. 6-8pm.

Fellini’s 200 Market St. “InnerEvolution,” a show of work by Lea Bodea. 5:30-7pm.

The Garage 100 E. Jefferson St. “Watershed,” featuring nostalgia-invoking watercolors by Ginger Oakes. 5-7pm.

McGuffey Art Center 201 Second St. NW. In the Sarah B. Smith Gallery, “Un-Becoming Peter Allen,” a show of works in colored pencil and collage that explore the nature of identity; in the North and South and Downstairs Hall galleries, the McGuffey member artists summer group show. 5:30-7:30pm.

Spring Street Boutique 107 W. Main St., Downtown Mall. “Aerial Colors,” featuring mixed-media pieces by Remmi Franklin. 6-8pm.

Studio IX 969 Second St. SE. “Six Pan: Smoked Paper and Wash Studies,” featuring work by Cidney Blaine Cher. 5:30-7:30pm.

VMDO Architects 200 E. Market St. “Community Collective,” a show of works by a variety of artists, to benefit The Haven Day Shelter. 5-7pm.


Other July shows

Albemarle County Circuit Court 501 E. Jefferson St. An exhibition of work by members of the Central Virginia Watercolor Guild.

Annie Gould Gallery 109 S. Main St., Gordonsville. Work by Joan Griffin, Frances Dowdy, Anne de Latour Hopper, and 30 other artists, both local and national.

Carpediem Exhibit 1429 E. High St. An exhibition of Lillian Fitzgerald’s plein air paintings, Lily Erb’s sculptures exploring restraints, and Elizabeth Geiger’s paintings of familiar objects.

Crozet Artisan Depot 5791 Three Notch’d Rd., Crozet. “The Art of Whimsy,” a show of mixed-media jewelry by Stephen Dalton. July 13, 1pm.

The Fralin Museum of Art at UVA 155 Rugby Rd. “Pompeii Archive: Photographs by William Wylie,” through June 9; Vanessa German’s installation, “,” through July 7; “The Print Series in Bruegel’s Netherlands: Dutch and Flemish Works from the Permanent Collection,” through July 7; “Of Women, By Women,” an exhibition curated by the university’s museum interns that explores the power inherent in the act of taking a photograph; “Asian Art from the Permanent and Select Private Collections”; and “Oriforme” by Jean Arp.

Jefferson School African American Heritage Center 233 Fourth St. NW. Through July 13, “Simply: The Black Towns,” a series of images by Jamelle Bouie, New York Times columnist and political analyst for CBS News, of the remains of African American towns founded after Emancipation; and opening July 27, a show of 13 works by Ernest Withers, made between 1957 and 1968.

Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection 400 Worrell Dr. “Shane Pickett: Djinong Djina Boodja (Look At the Land that I Have Traveled),” featuring work by one of western Australia’s most significant contemporary Aboriginal artists;  “Beyond Dreamings: The Rise of Indigenous Australian Art in the United States,” through July 7; and “With Her Hands: Women’s Fiber Art from Gapuwiyak: The Louise Hamby Gift,” opening July 18.

Les Yeux du Monde 841 Wolf Trap Rd. “Landscape Reimagined & Summer Sculpture Show,” featuring the work of 27 painters and 10 sculptors who take landscape as their subject or use their art to literally inhabit and intersect with nature.

Northside Library 705 W. Rio Rd. “Summertime: A Group Multimedia Art Exhibit” featuring work by the BozART Fine Art Collective.

Second Street Gallery 115 Second St. SE. In the main gallery, “Lady Painters: Inspired by Joan Mitchell,” featuring paintings by Isabelle Abbot, Karen Blair, Janet Bruce, Molly Herman, Priscilla Long Whitlock, and two original works by American abstract expressionist Joan Mitchell; and in the Dové Gallery, “Radiolaria & Reef: Our Ocean’s Living Abstractions,” featuring paintings by Tina Curtis. Through July 19.

Shenandoah Valley Art Center 122 S. Wayne Ave., Waynesboro. The SVAC members’ annual judged show.

Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church Unitarian-Universalist 717 Rugby Rd. “The Garden Show,” featuring the paintings of Tomas Manto. Opens July 7 at noon.

University of Virginia Health System Main Hospital Lobby 1215 Lee St. “In the Garden,” a show of watercolors by Marcia Mitchell.

Yellow Cardinal Gallery 301 E. Market St. “Looking Toward the Light,” paintings reflecting the joys of summer light by Karen Collins, Lizzie Dudley, Anne French, Jane Goodman, and Carol Ziemer. Opens July 12 at 5pm.

First Fridays is a monthly art event featuring exhibit openings at many area art galleries and exhibition venues. Several spaces offer receptions. To list an exhibit, email

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