Art-rageous! Shaken and stirred in 2008

Irwin Berman, stool from "The Great Seal of Virginia."

The Year of the Rat was like a round of Rock ’em Sock ââ?¬Ë?em Robots that left the ââ?¬Ë?ville’s art world reeling. (And a few major players ended up crying, "Hey, you knocked my block off!")

Ejected! At the tail end of 2007, Jill Hartz, longtime director of the University of Virginia Art Museum, was unceremoniously handed her walking papers. And in May, Second Street Gallery showed widely admired director Leah Stoddard the door. While triple ââ?¬Ë?Hoo Elizabeth Turner (if you don’t know, don’t ask) stepped in as interim director at the UVA Art Museum, Rebecca Schoenthal took over the arty reins at SSG.

Scrapped! As went Jill Hartz, so went the Museum’s innovative New Media Gallery, which had made my top-five art list for 2007. Out with the new, and in with the”Š well, we don’t quite know yet.

Banned! In May, the UVA Art Museum censored proctologist and UVA alumnus Dr. Irwin Berman’s sculptural exhibition, “Sedentary Pleasures: Uncommon Stools” by refusing to display the commissioned work “The Great Seal of Virginia,” which featured a stool piled with orange and blue dog turds. (Les Yeux du Monde scooped up the poop.)

Snapped! One of the few bright flashes of 2008, was the June return of “Look 3: Festival of the Photograph.” National Geographic photographer Nick Nichols helmed another “three days of peace, love, and photography,” this year bringing to town Mary Ellen Mark, Joel Peter Witkin, and James Nachtwey for on-stage interviews and stellar exhibitions. While Mark gave several local high school couples lasting fame as subjects of her prom portraits, Nachtwey left a lasting impression with his powerful images and inspiring commitment to illuminate pain in the world in hopes of ending it.

Erected! Finally working in positive space, UVA’s studio art department moved into its new Œber-industrial digs, Ruffin Hall, in August. The price tag for the state-of-the art workspaces, offices, and hip Herman Miller furniture? A cool $26 million. (And the building still leaked!) Meanwhile, the Architecture School unveiled two new additions designed by faculty members William Sherman and W.G. Clark.

K.O.’d! In something of a July French Revolution, the wee tot wares of Petit Bebe took over what had been the downtown domain of Les Yeux du Monde, which eventually established a temporary location on West Main. But with the close of 2008, owner Lyn Warren will close the gallery, although LYdM will live on through arty events, Warren says. Also shuttering their shops: Sage Moon and Migration: A Gallery.

Piedmont Council of the Arts moved into the McGuffey Art Center, and the Charlottesville Community Design Center re-established itself under the Market Street Parking Garage–not to be confused with The Garage, a brave, new art space that opened in, yes, a garage on North First St.