Art at the end of the oughts

Martin Parr, "Birdview," The Melbourne Cup, Australia. 2008, pigment print, 40 x 60 inches, courtesy Janet Borden, Inc.
Martin Parr, "Birdview," The Melbourne Cup, Australia. 2008, pigment print, 40 x 60 inches, courtesy Janet Borden, Inc.

After the earthquake of 2008, when art movers and shakers got shaken up and numerous galleries crumbled, 2009 was a relatively calm, even upbeat year for art in the 'ville.

A new face and a facelift: In March, Bruce Boucher took over the helm of the UVA Art Museum. Some feared the new director, an expert on 16th century Italian architecture, might prefer all things dusty, but Boucher quickly demonstrated an open mind, a wicked wit, and a heartfelt desire to create a more simpatico relationship between the Museum and the community. The first major accomplishment under the Boucher regime? A $2.5 million summer renovation of the Museum, which resulted in improved gallery lighting and climate-control technology, along with a new print room that's an educator's delight.

Boxed in: Perhaps the most engaging exhibition of 2009 was Second Street Gallery's "Impera et Divide." Curated by Charlottesville fave and art renegade Warren Craghead III, along with Portuguese artist Pedro Moura, the March-April show highlighted six international artists who adopt the sequential approach of comic-book art and carry it in unexpected and thrilling directions.

Click clique: In June, National Geographic photographer Michael "Nick" Nichols, and company served up a delicious third year of  "three days of peace, love, and photography" to photo-philes who flocked to town for the Charlottesville Festival of the Photograph. This year's "big three" legacy artists included Sylvia Plachy, Gilles Peress, and the completely delightful Martin Parr, whose self-effacing British humor had his Paramount "InSight" audience gasping for breath between laughs.

Zounds found sound: Two separate exhibitions wowed lovers of the avant-garde with work that combined visual and auditory experiences incorporating cast-off objects. In May, Greensboro, N.C.-based Invisible, a collaborative trio consisting of Mark Dixon, Bart Trotman, and Jonathan Henderson, installed and played "Rhythm 1001" at Second Street Gallery. And in September, New York artist David Ellis and composer Robert Lange created a delightfully animated trash pile called "Bing" at The Bridge.

Re-opened eyes: Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Les Yeux du Monde, which closed its West Main location at the end of December 2008, re-opened in October in a new state-of-the-art building designed by award-wining architect W.G. Clarke. Not only is the gallery ironclad- literally- but so is LYdM's owner Lyn Warren's right to it since it's located on her Albemarle County estate. Here's to no more lost leases!

Experimental art space Try & Make opened next to Reid's Market in May but called it a day by August. Despite the dismal economic climate, no other galleries closed in 2009, and both the Charlottesville Community Design Center and The Bridge Public Arts Initiative celebrated fifth-year anniversaries. Plus, Sage Moon Gallery reestablished itself at Siips Fine Wine and Champagne Bar on the Downtown Mall, and Skylight Studios opened on Second St.

Read more on: 2009