Local Looks: C2D is flat-out fun


Regular readers of this column know a sure-fire way to make me roll my eyes is to mention a "group show." But there is one collective endeavor I always look forward to: ArtinPlace.org's annual exhibition, "Charlottesville in 2Dimensions," or C2D for short.

Currently on display at the McGuffey Art Center, C2D is a true community art show, open to anyone who has created an image representing a local scene. This year's fare is not divided by neighborhoods, as in the past, and it includes more rural landscapes and impressionistic pieces. Nevertheless, the soul of the exhibition remains city-centered (and if you have a soft spot for the County Courthouse or the Virginia National Bank, you're in luck).

The "usual suspects" are not the ones who make this show sizzle. Granted, Edith Arbaugh's watercolor Jefferson cups reflecting Jeffersonian architecture are technically dazzling, and Marion Reynolds' broad-brush oil landscapes offer familiar charms. No, what makes C2D so juicy are the lively, sometimes funny, always surprising contributions by local students.

The children who attend Free Union Country School, in particular, provide fascinating and innovative perspectives on the Downtown Mall. The young artists prowled around until something caught their eye. After drawing their impressions, the mostly second- and third-graders handwrote explanations for what attracted them to their subjects.

Among the standouts is Rachel Elder's vision of the upper floors of the Jefferson Theater, where the windowpanes offer kaleidoscopic blue and green reflections. She writes of her choice, "It may look dull to you, but I think it is pretty." Another winning image is Clea Trotter's almost Cubist rendering of the Virginia National Bank, with row upon row of tiny yellow squares glowing within an orange framework that angles into an aqua sky.

C2D also features some spectacular black-and-white photography by high-school students. In addition to Will Crawford's award-winning alley scene, "City Side Street," Jasmin Sarp's untitled industrial image, looking up toward a railroad overpass, is impressive. Both Crawford and Sarp focus their lenses on overlooked locations, effectively capturing obvious and subtle contrasts of line, light, and shadow.

Highlights from the adult contributions include Janet Grahame's acrylic and mixed-media "From the Studio," which offers an intricately layered view across Charlottesville's rooftops, and Joanna Mullen's atmospheric mixed-media piece, "Boldly Going Nowhere," a paean to Mall drifters. Also noteworthy: color photographer Frank B. Feigert's geometric "Paramount."

To quote Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, "There's no place like home."

"Charlottesville in 2 Dimensions" is on view in the upstairs hall gallery of the McGuffey Art Center through April 2. 201 Second St. NW. 295-7973.