Questioning women: Inquiring minds / meaningful looks

Still from Kate Gilmore's video, With Open Arms.

March is Women’s History Month, and currently two of the brightest art sparks in town are either femme-powered or femme-focused. In the case of the former, seven women artists and art historians are fostering intellectual inquiry into all things art-related with a new community website, Meanwhile, the Niche in the Fine Arts Library is screening Kate Gilmore’s performance videos dealing with feminine expectations.

I’ll give you a topic: Art. Discuss. may be no more, but the tireless Kate Daughdrill, cofounder of The Garage, and six of her friends– Leah Cupino, Jenny Garnett, Carissa Henriques, Lauren Maupin, Stephanie deSocio and Kathryn Wagner–have created a new blog, the Art Klatch, dedicated to critical discourse about art in the Charlottesville community. Arising from a desire for serious conversation, the website officially launched February 20.

According to Daughdrill, Art Klatch’s organizers will contribute posts every Tuesday and Thursday, while Wednesdays will feature a guest blogger. The site also features a sidebar of suggested articles, exhibitions, and other items of interest to art-lovers. Daughdrill says the group plans to host monthly Art Klatch meetings at a local bar to discuss specific topics, which she hopes will lead to “little moments of community in real life.”

With posts ranging from a reflection on the power of moving images to a lament about factors that deter devotion to art, the site is already averaging 80 hits a day. “We would just love to see an active community of people who are commenting,” says Daughdrill. “We need a forum like this to engage and learn and to have people respond to ideas.”


The Niche in the Fine Arts Library continues its series of women’s videos involving performance with three shorts by New York-based artist Kate Gilmore, whose work humorously yet painfully depicts the difficulty of fulfilling and/or breaking free of society’s feminine dictates. In each piece, a fixed camera records Gilmore, all girlied up in lipstick and frilly clothes, as she inhabits a world of childlike stars and hearts. Try as she might to perform her roles prettily, she nevertheless gets brutally assaulted with rotten tomatoes in With Open Arms, and scratched by splintering wood in Star Bright, Star Might.

Any woman who has had a male stranger admonish her to “smile” will recognize Gilmore’s artistic territory. Fortunately, Daughdrill and the Art Klatch crew would rather hear her talk about art.

The Art Klatch is at Kate Gilmore’s videos, With Open Arms, Star Bright, Star Might, and Baby, Belong to Me, are on view through March 8 at the Niche in the Fine arts Library. Fiske Kimball Fine Arts Library, Bayly Dr. (across from the Architecture School). For more information, visit The Niche's blog: