Hang-ups: New venues open downtown
Signs that things are looking up: the snow has melted (Mount Chipotle excepted); the economy is brightening; daffodils are in bloom; and two, yes, two new art galleries have opened downtown during the last month.
Chroma Projects Art Laboratory is the brainchild of Deborah McLeod, who wants to create a comfortable space for people not only to view art but also to discuss it. A former curator for the Peninsula Fine Arts Center and the McLean Project for the Arts, McLeod has written about art for Style Weekly and the Baltimore City Paper. After moving back to the Charlottesville area two years ago, she says, "I was getting restless." Her husband encouraged her to open a gallery, and when two artist friends–- Kris Iden and Millicent Young–- mentioned they were looking for studio space and a showroom, she decided to take the leap.
Located in the old University Florist shop at 418 E. Main St., Chroma Projects combines an open front gallery with a warren of smaller showrooms and studios. The work displayed encompasses all media–- sculpture, woodworking, ceramics, glass, painting, jewelry-making, photography, etc. "I like it all when it's well done," McLeod says, adding, "I do like work to have its own efforts at wisdom. Artists need to be a little polemic."
She has even turned the former flower vault into an experimental film and video space, currently screening Richard Knox Robinson's latest project.
McLeod plans to devote Chroma Projects' front gallery to monthly group shows loosely focused on a theme. The inaugural exhibition, "In the Beginning," showcases work by more than 17 artists, including local favorites Rob Tarbell and Ashley Williams. The next show, "Disclosed," which opens May 7, will feature artists who examine things normally protected from public view.
A few blocks away on Third Street, Barbara Buhr has opened Warm Springs Gallery, a companion venue to her 15-year-old location in Bath County. Buhr brings an established stable of 20 painters (including local realist Tim O'Kane) and 20 craftspeople, whom she plans to pair in bi-monthly exhibitions.
The gallery's first show, "Passages," balances landscapes by American painter Christopher Burch with clean-lined ceramic vessels by Australian artist Phil Elson. The gallery's second exhibit, "Arcadian Rhythms," opening April 1, will showcase landscapes by Virginia artist Ed Hatch and stone sculptures of birds by Dale Weiler.
With different but complementary approaches, Chroma Projects and Warm Springs Gallery indicate the art scene in the 'ville is resurging!
Chroma Projects Art Laboratory is open 11am-6pm, Tuesday through Saturday, at 418 E. Main St. 202-0269. Warm Springs Gallery is open 11am-5pm, Thursday through Saturday, at 105 Third St. NE. 245-0800.