Culture- ART FEATURE- Who's your daddy? Johnny Fogg's family affair

Take a minute to picture your parents. How do you see them? Young? Old? Smiling? Frowning? Doing something specific? Johnny Fogg wants to know. 

For over a year, Fogg has been cultivating the "Mother Father Project," distributing thousands of postcards, each with one side blank and the other reading, "On the front of this card, please make a drawing of your mother and/or father." The endeavor grew out of a conversation between Fogg and fellow arts innovator Max Fenton, in which Fenton floated the idea of asking friends to depict their parents for a show. "So I thought, ‘What if I got a city of mothers and fathers?'" recalls Fogg, "and you'd have to rub shoulders with strangers."

Previously, Fogg had designed a postcard project that asked, "What are you like?" But of 800 cards handed out, he got back only four. "The mother-father thing is similar in that it's great when people make the drawings," he explains, "but just getting people to ask the question of who their parents are to them is really cool."

Fogg had already set the "Mother Father Project" in motion when he met Greg Kelly, co-founder of the Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative. Kelly thought the venture matched The Bridge's mission to explore new ways to build community through art, and he offered to help Fogg gain access to school art programs and strategize other ways for getting cards to people in the community. In addition, the organization assisted with building "Sanctuary," a mobile gallery created from a transformed chicken coop mounted on a flatbed trailer.

With over 2,000 images now in hand, Fogg will debut the "Mother Father Project" at The Bridge on April 6, after which the interactive exhibition will move to different locations in and around Charlottesville. Because "Sanctuary" can accommodate only 500-700 images at a time, what's on show will constantly change. Plus, the gallery will have cards and art supplies to encourage visitors' participation. 

Of the current images, Fogg is especially fond of one showing a purple woman with a "football-shaped head" and another where a stick figure appears to be falling into the card. "There's an aspect of it where you can't tell whether it was made by a 5-year-old or a 55-year-old," says Fogg. "And another cool thing is not knowing who made what."

Because we all have familial relationships, Kelly says, "Everybody gets to participate. Everybody gets to express."

Johnny Fogg's "Mother Father Project" debuts at The Bridge on First Friday, April 6, 6-9pm. 209 Monticello Road (brown building near Spudnuts, just across the Avon St. bridge over Water St.). On April 7, the "Mother Father Project" travels to Charlottesville High School for the City's annual Easter egg hunt. For future destinations, check or call The Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative, 984-5669.