destination celebration: arts council progressive party 2017.

Copy of burgSMALL_Progressive_brandy_somers10It’s always a good sign when there’s crusted food on my notebook.

When deciding what to wear for the 6th Annual Progressive Party hosted by the Arts Council of the Valley, I made sure I wore something roomy and with pockets. Room for eating everything in sight, and pockets because everyone needs pockets, and they should not be excluded from cocktail attire. 

Upon our arrival at The Columns at Six Penny Farm, Brandy, Austin, and I were greeted on the patio and handed a cocktail, a program of events, and a bid number. The cocktail was just what this warm, humid day required: the “Art Splash,” compliments of The Golden Pony, featured vodka, raspberry liqueur, sour mix and soda, with a cherry on top. Got Strings, a three-piece strings ensemble, played softly under the portico. I took this as a good omen and couldn’t wait to see what the evening would hold. The view from Six Penny Farm of Massanutten, stippled in intermittent sunshine, was a masterpiece of a backdrop for the evening. Occasionally the peak disappeared behind a blur, and we wondered, “Is that rain?” Nope, nope, it’s just haze. “Are those raindrops I just felt on my arm?” Nope, nope, it’s just sweat. Sweat and haze. We’re going with that.

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And before we had to find out if it was indeed rain, we progressed inside the building for the second stop on this Destination Celebration!

The Annual Progressive Party, the Arts Council’s biggest fundraiser of the year, celebrates and supports the success and continued growth of the arts in our community. Proceeds allow  ACV to continue to provide First Friday art exhibits at more than 30 local venues, culturally and artistically important films and performances in the Court Square Theater, and grant money for future art endeavors.

Inside, an impressive variety of beer (thank you, Midtowne Bottle Shop!) and wine (thank you, Brix and Columns Vineyard!) lined the bar while people sipped and mingled. When the doors to the ballroom opened, revealing table after table of freshly prepared, steaming, aromatic food from eight (EIGHT!!) local restaurants, it was like Bob Barker opened the doors to the Showcase Showdown. People clapped, people shrieked (okay, maybe that was me), people gasped and gawked and drooled.

Copy of burgSMALL_Progressive_brandy_somers44Copy of burgSMALL_Progressive_brandy_somers41And then we ate. And ate. We ate all of it. We ate from A Bowl of Good, Black Forest German Restaurant, and Cafe 33. We devoured Joshua Wilton House, Oriental Cafe, and Taj of India. We gorged on Paella Perfecta and we topped it off with Nathy’s Cakes & Fine Pastries. My dress held up just fine, thank you.

While we ate, we were treated to performances by the Harrisonburg Dance Cooperative and JMU’s The Madison Project. Golly, so much talent!

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The third stop of the evening was a live auction of several gorgeous pieces of artwork and three art packages, including a case of wine from Brix and Columns Vineyard, an Art Party for 10 with Laura Thompson at Larkin Arts, and a D.C. Art Excursion! Artists who graciously participated in the auction include Denise Kanter Allen, Jennifer Lockard Connerley, Mia LaBerge, Nadia Louderback, Allison Nickens, Morgan Fink Paixao, John Rose, and Bruce Rosenwasser. Several people went home with a memento from the evening that they’ll enjoy for a lifetime!

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Copy of burgSMALL_Progressive_brandy_somers94The last stop on the journey was DANCING! DJ Finks turned it up, everybody got down, and these photos say the rest!


Copy of burgSMALL_Progressive_brandy_somers89Copy of burgSMALL_Progressive_brandy_somers86Copy of burgSMALL_Progressive_brandy_somers84Copy of burgSMALL_Progressive_brandy_somers82Copy of burgSMALL_Progressive_brandy_somers72Copy of burgSMALL_Progressive_brandy_somers66The Arts Council of the Valley would like to thank their Progressive Party sponsors. The list is LONG. Without continued support from caring businesses and individuals,  art tends to disappear from communities. I am so grateful to live in a place where art is alive and well.

Food Sponsors
Louise & Alden Hostetter
Don Albright & Earlynn Miller
Diane & David Ehrenpreis
Patricia Kidd
Laura & Paul Riner
Emily McCarty
Joanne & Alexander Gabbin
Susan & Bill Cale
Union Bank & Trust

Party Sponsors
Kathy Moran Wealth Group
The Community Foundation
Graves • Light Wealth Management Group
E&M Auto Paint and Supply Co.
JMU College of Visual and Performing Arts
Association of Property Management Services, LLC
Blue Ridge Architects
Blue Ridge Bank
Blue Ridge Community College
Brown & Co. Hair Design
Hess Financial
James McHone Jewelry
LD&B Insurance and Financial Services
The Myrias Group
Summit Community Bank
Bia Events & Decorating
The Columns at Six Penny Farm
The Daily News Record
Garrison Press
Joshua Wilton House
Larkin Arts

Event Sponsors
Larry and Kathy Whitten and the Community Foundation
Riner Rentals
Paul Somers and The Golden Pony
Union Bank & Trust
Eugene Stoltzfus Architects

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Copyright © 2012-17 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Words by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

high score: ruby’s arcade.

burgIMG_1285The bar has been raised.

Ruby’s Arcade, the newest endeavor of local restauranteur Clay Clark, has been open for six weeks or so, so this post might seem a little late arriving. But since its opening, Brandy and I (or just Brandy, or just I) have been in that place like ten times: the Downtown Renaissance Awards ceremony, an evening out with all the kiddos, a happy hour celebration with some teacher friends, friend and family bonding time after our art show, to name a few. She kept taking photos and I kept taking notes and ding dang it, we can’t hold it in any longer.

This place is AWESOME. First, you won’t be surprised to hear the food is excellent. They pride themselves on their fresh meats, never frozen, including their pork, ribs, and brisket smoked DAILY. The fried chicken sandwich and the fried catfish sandwich (I’ve had both) are succulent and delicious, and please do yourself a favor and get the smoked gouda mac ‘n cheese. They’ve got a great selection of burgers, appetizers, and salads, too. But the pizza. Whoa. Wood-fired pizza in their snazzy red wood oven, loaded with noteworthy toppings like pickled peppers, smoked pork, artichokes, and bleu cheese, and names like The Keanu, The Swayze, and The Bern.

burgIMG_1319 burgIMG_1323But that’s not all. They’ve got several excellent draft beers, and YOU CAN GET A PITCHER of any of them. Yep, you heard me right! A pitcher!! I remember twenty years ago, I could get a pitcher of beer at one of our very few local watering holes… but then pitchers went away. It could be, and I’m just speculating, that as the quality of H’burg beer increased, pitchers got pricey, and establishments stopped selling them. Whatever. That’s all water under the bridge now, because the pitcher is back! You can even get a 2-topping pizza and a pitcher of PBR for eighteen bucks!

And that’s still not all. Let’s get to the reason it’s called Ruby’s Arcade. The games! The showpiece of the whole joint is the four-lane duckpin bowling alley. Clay rescued the duckpin bowling apparatus, Chris Howdyshell tinkered and toiled and got it all working again, and now you and up to three of your buddies can share a lane for just $20/hour. Our kids LOVED it. After that you can amble on over to the billiard and pingpong tables. Or play shuffleboard. Or Foosball. Or you can play a board game. Or darts. This list is getting long.

burgIMG_1295 burgIMG_1299 burgIMG_1310 burgIMG_1321The place is huge, so don’t worry about it being too crowded. When you first walk in, there’s a large area with high-top tables and a little lounge area. Continue down a short flight of steps and to the left is the bar and the bowling area. Tables of various sizes (and made of re-purposed wood from antique bowling lanes!), assorted game tables, and upholstered furniture fill the rest of the space, and if you keep walking toward the back, there’s another swanky lounge area back there.

burgIMG_1287 burgIMG_1289burgIMG_1292 burgIMG_1307Decorating the huge space might have seemed daunting at first, but with the help of mural artists like Lynda Bostrom, Derek Niver, Michael Broth, Andre Shank, Trip Madison, and Elliott Downs, those walls weren’t bare for long. It’s worth a trip in there just to see the art work.

burgIMG_1305burgIMG_1290Gourmet food + games for all ages + quality beer (in PITCHERS) + stunning artwork + tons of space + friendly staff = the place to go for any occasion. This is why I said the bar’s been raised. Ruby’s Arcade fills a hole I didn’t realize existed until I got in there to see what it was all about. Now it’s your turn. And to get in there, you enter from the paved area behind Clementine and You Made It!, sort of adjacent to the back of the bike shop/little bridge over Blacks Run. They’re open seven days a week! See you soon!

Copyright © 2012-16 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

epic proportions: 6x6x30.

bspitzIMG_1454I remember last year’s 6x6x30 Art Show, hosted by Spitzer Art Center, more vividly than I remember most things these days. Maybe that’s because experiences that evoke an emotional response take root in one’s memory, and one’s heart, more firmly than superficial, run-of-the-mill events. And that show was anything but ordinary. I remember seeing thirty of Trip Madison’s iconic ships lined up in rows together — a massive, colorful fleet. I remember Brandy’s daring and innovative experiment in which photography met needlepoint — thirty photographs, printed on fabric, enhanced with bright stitches. One of them was a photo of me, my earrings embellished by vibrant orange thread. I remember Denise Allen’s collection of thirty paintings — my son was one of them! I remember Jewel Hertzler’s glistening encaustic paintings — especially the ones of owls and trees. Trees are my people. And so I remember all those images, burned into my frontal lobe, easily recalled from the deepest regions of my memory — not the same feeling as remembering something because it’s been scrawled on a post-it note and hangs on my computer screen. I remember it because I want to, not because I have to.

When Spitzer’s 6x6x30 show rolled around again this year, I decided to give it a try. I knew going in that making one six-inch-square piece of art every day for thirty days would be intense, especially given that I’m not an artist, I’ve had very little experience making art, I’ve had absolutely no training, I had limited supplies and budget, and as always, time would be a huge factor. The biggest lesson I learned over the course of the thirty days is that I was indeed capable of completing the task — even on time! — and so can you. My exhibit was not nearly as breathtakingly beautiful as some of the others, and that’s okay. No one can expect to produce veteran-quality work their first day on the job. And hanging my work next to the work of those veterans, being invited to participate, being welcomed into the fold of all those beautiful people, was truly humbling.

Envelopes by Katie Mitchell

Envelopes by Katie Mitchell

At the start I wasn’t exactly sure what my abilities were, so for my exhibit, I avoided things I KNEW I couldn’t do. Oil painting — forget it. Realistic drawing — nope. Watercolors — uh uh. Anything involving clay — haha!! But… I’d been making and decorating envelopes for my pen pal for a few months and I felt okay about that.

burgIMG_1424Each of the thirty days, after tucking my kids in for the night, I would unfurl my giant roll of white craft paper that I’d pilfered from the kids’ easel downstairs, cut out the shape of an unfolded envelope, fold it to the proper dimensions, and glue the seams. Then I’d sketch (ha) a rough outline of the image I wanted to achieve and rip up random pages of discarded magazines from my school library, gluing down little bits and pieces until it sorta looked like what I’d imagined. For some of the envelopes, I did very rudimentary drawings colored in with marker or colored pencils. I decorated both sides of the envelopes (though not evenly) and invited exhibit attendees to handle the envelopes so they could see the front and the back.

burgIMG_1431 burgIMG_1432 burgIMG_1434I also learned that I am capable of improving. The last envelope I made features a guitar fashioned out of tiny bits of National Geographic magazine. The guitar’s neck wraps around the the back of the envelope where I included a line from the song “Crazy Heart.” The first envelope I made, on the other hand, features an awkward, crooked, wonky-looking record player. Ugh. Despite that frustration, I got better and more efficient at the craft each night. I also got farther and farther behind with EVERY OTHER part of my life. I avoided cooking so I wouldn’t make more dirty dishes, clean clothes were out of the question, and sleep was whittled down to a 4-hour nap each night.

Finally, the day of the opening arrived. The show was so huge — 47 artists and 1410 works of art!!! — that no downtown location could host it. Instead, Park Gables Gallery, on the campus of Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community, graciously offered their walls. Each artist had a wooden panel on which to display all thirty pieces. The panels hung throughout the spacious gallery, each accompanied by an artist bio/statement. Hundreds of people attended. Hundreds. Throngs, if you will. The opening was 5 – 8pm but easily could have gone later. So, so much beauty and talent and ding dang perseverance to take in — more than can be digested in one evening. It’s a good thing the show will remain up the rest of this month.

burgIMG_1339 burgIMG_1342 burgIMG_1351 burgIMG_1352 burgIMG_1354As you can see from the photographs, artists used a variety of media, techniques, and themes. There was charcoal and acrylic and vintage fabric. There was photography and watercolor and pastels. Magazines, needlepoint, pencil drawings and mandalas. There was even melted crayon + nail polish, fused glass, and cyanotype photograms on watercolor paper. There was calligraphy and handmade tiles and thirty sculptures made of things like screws and rebar and hooks! Themes ranged from spoons, hands, and plants, to pugs and bunnies, to the story of Creation.

photos by Brandy Somers

photos by Brandy Somers

Collage by Cindy Greene

Collage by Cindy Greene

Cindy GreeneIMG_1451

Collage by Cindy Greene

Encaustic Painting by Jewel Hertzler

Encaustic Painting by Jewel Hertzler

Sculpture by Michael Hough

Sculpture by Michael Hough

Sculpture by Michael Hough

Sculpture by Michael Hough

Paintings by Padma Jennifer Ann Kockim

Paintings by Padma Jennifer Ann Kockim

Fused Glass by Rebecca Brydge

Fused Glass by Rebecca Brydge

Pugs by Zach Gesford

Pugs by Zach Gesford

Pugs by Zach Gesford

Pugs by Zach Gesford

And the evening would not have been complete without awarding much deserved prizes. First place, sponsored by Blakemore’s Flowers, went to Brenda Hounshell.

1st Place Brenda Hounshell

1st Place Brenda Hounshell

1st Place Brenda Hounshell

1st Place Brenda Hounshell

2nd place, sponsored by E. Miller and D. Albright, went to Erin Murray.

2nd Place Erin Murray

2nd Place Erin Murray

2nd Place Erin Murray

2nd Place Erin Murray

And 3rd place, sponsored by A Bowl of Good, went to Barbara Gautcher.

3rd Place Barbara Gautcher

3rd Place Barbara Gautcher

3rd Place Barbara Gautcher

3rd Place Barbara Gautcher

The show is still up, and will remain up until the end of the month, so there’s still time to get in there and see it. If you’re interested in purchasing art work, please check with the receptionist at the desk just to the right of the staircase near the entrance. This is Spitzer’s biggest fundraiser of the year; twenty percent of art sales from the 6x6x30 show goes straight to Spitzer Art Center so they can continue providing art to our local community and support to our local artists. It’s a small investment with hefty dividends! Yet another night to remember, another opportunity of a lifetime, a thousand more notches in my prefrontal cortex — all right here in our little Burg.

Here’s a list of all the participating artists. Join them next year!!
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Copyright © 2012-16 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

royal treatment: 2015 progressive party.

burgProgressiveWEB01An hour before the event, I finished mowing the lawn for what I PRAY is the last time this year. Twenty miles away, Brandy was likely folding something, or mopping something, or editing something. Yet somehow, without the help of mice, bluebirds, or a magic wand, we managed to slink into our fancy duds, drape our skin in jewels, and apply a fine sheen of lip gloss in anticipation of a fairy tale evening — the Arts Council’s Annual Progressive Party! The purpose of the Progressive Party is simple — to celebrate the arts and raise funds so the Council can continue to provide art opportunities to the Harrisonburg community through Court Square TheaterAdvancing the Arts GrantsFirst Fridays Downtown, Smith House Gallery exhibitions, and community-based collaborations.

This year’s theme (Your Artistic Adventure: the Progressive Party with a Twist) sent guests on a two-destination journey: the dazzling home of Dan Newberry for the event launch party, and then one of seven host homes for more merrymaking.

burgProgressiveWEB31At Dan’s, we all converged to hear the music of Kelly May Brown, meet the evening’s featured artists, enjoy beverages from Pale Fire Brewing and Vintage Wines, and indulge in appetizers provided by A Little Something Special. Of particular note were the jelly “flight” and the butter “flight” — assortments of both spreads to be sampled on bread and crackers. One even tasted like bacon. Who knew this was a thing?

burgProgressiveWEB41 burgProgressiveWEB04 burgProgressiveWEB28burgProgressiveWEB47We Cinderellas were also excited about the raffle drawing for a diamond from James McHone and custom setting from Hugo Kohl. After a lovely cocktail hour on luxurious property, everyone loaded up in their chariots and proceeded to one of the seven host homes, each of which had live music and the work of a featured artist. Brandy and I got the royal treatment when we were permitted to go to TWO homes! We ate like Queens!

We were so excited when we arrived at our first home, owned by the charming Randy Harman, to see our smiling friend, Praserth Saesow of Beyond Restaurant and Lounge, who had prepared this incredible feast. Floral decorations by Teri Dean of The Wishing Well accentuated the beautiful art work of Wendy Lam. Live music by Moon (based in Staunton) floated toward the vaulted ceilings and filled the space, while conversations flourished.

burgProgressiveParty_IMG_4385 burgProgressiveWEB58burgProgressiveParty_IMG_4371 burgProgressiveWEB62 ProgressiveWEB56-2burgProgressiveWEB57 burgProgressiveWEB63With one eye on the clock, we wolfed down a second plate of Praserth’s food and headed to our next, and final, destination: the home of Rob and Peggy McKearney, where we were completely spoiled with beef and pork tenderloin, salmon, and bacon-wrapped shrimp. At one point, Brandy was double fisting with macaroons. Erin Murray’s vivid and too-real-to-be-real paintings spoke to us all, and Chad Hanger crooned from the living room. I swear, his voice is somehow better every time I hear him. All of it at that house — so rich and alive!

burgProgressiveParty_IMG_4403 burgProgressiveParty_IMG_4423 burgProgressiveWEB68 burgProgressiveWEB73 burgProgressiveWEB74 burgProgressiveWEB82burgProgressiveWEB71Before we knew it, it was time to click our heels and get home before our babysitters turned into pumpkins (there might be a mix-up in there). And so we dashed out into the night, while the music and laughter receded in the rearview mirror.

We can’t say enough how much we enjoyed this enchanted evening. Everyone involved loves and actively supports the arts in our community, demonstrated by their selfless gifts of time, hospitality, talent, and dollars that will allow for continued growth of the Council’s initiatives. After all, beautiful things must be constantly sown and tended. Art, and the proliferation of it, takes diligence and commitment.

Copyright © 2012-15 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

grass roots: our community place annual lawn jam.

burgIMG_8510Before meeting Brandy at the (approximately 18th) Annual Our Community Place Lawn Jam, I had lunch at The Little Grill. Sitting on a stool at their three-seat counter, I read an article on my CNN app called “America’s Quietest Town.” Greenbank, West Virginia – home of the Robert C. Byrd Greenbank Telescope, a massive, 485-foot structure weighing 17 million pounds that cranes its ear into the darkest corners of space and lures passionate and accomplished scientists from all over the world. It’s a big deal.

And to live in a town with such incredible, powerful, cutting-edge technology, one must sacrifice one’s own modern conveniences. Because even the tiniest emission from someone’s house can disrupt months of research. Spark plugs have caused problems for the telescope. Electronic doorbells. Even faulty electric blankets. They all create “noise” that can interfere with interstellar communications. And so, of course, bigger items, like microwave ovens, cell phones, and wifi are strictly prohibited. Employees of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory ride around Green Bank, patrolling the town’s 143 citizens for illegal emissions. These technological restrictions have rendered the town of Green Bank forever old-fashioned, if you will. Forever lacking all the bells and whistles of our web-connected, web-constructed reality. Oh, those lucky souls.

From there the article trails into a rant about cell phone dependency. It makes me think of the video going around Facebook of the guy who misses the whale that swims right next to him because he’s on his phone. “Pathetic!” we all scream at him. The irony that I was reading the article on my phone while eating alone at the Grill was not lost on me.

All trends reach an apex and fold in on themselves. A few years ago, a new form of snobbery was in full swing – owning a smart phone. I mean, what kind of loser doesn’t have one? GAH. Now that force has reversed itself and I find myself feeling judged if I pull out my phone anywhere, even just to check the time. I kinda hope the folding in continues, because yes, we have become a rude and detached society. And as the Green Bank resident explains in this video, the lack of technology has allowed people to “discover who you are” in a way that is different from the modern world and its huge, global context.

burgIMG_8569So when Brandy arrived, I chucked my phone into my purse (plus, it was almost dead anyway, haha), knowing I was already with the people I wanted to be connected to. And we walked into the crowd.

burgIMG_8547May I say, Our Community Place has really got their act together. Having officially opened in their current location (E. Johnson Street) in 2008, the idea for OCP was born across the street in The Little Grill. Ron Copeland, who bought the Grill in 1992, wanted to prepare a free meal for “anyone in the world,” where people of all walks of life could sit and dine together once a week. That’s how Soup Kitchen Mondays began at the Grill. In 2008, the meal moved over to the finally-renovated (I mean, years and years of fundraising and renovations!) Our Community Place, where they’re now able to serve five meals per week. According to their web site, Our Community Place is “a Christian organization that seeks to accommodate, foster and provide activities and programs related to personal growth and community well being; be a resource in the community for individuals seeking information or services already provided by other organizations; educate and empower individuals toward self-sufficiency, thus creating social capital for the community at large; and nurture a community that appreciates diversity and sees differences and conflict as opportunities for spiritual growth.” And anyone in the world, anyone and everyone, is welcome. People can get a meal there, do laundry, get Internet access, worship, shower, and enjoy each other’s company with games and sports. There’s also arts and crafts, a theater group, classes like drumming, pottery, and Tai Chi, and movie nights. Finally, they host and sponsor lots of events, such as the Lawn Jam and the Shenandoah Bicycle Fest earlier this month, an annual plant sale, Walk for OCP in October, and the OCP Christmas Concert.

burgIMG_8548 burgIMG_8549The purpose of this year’s Lawn Jam was to raise money for their kitchen renovation and new food-based business enterprise. They need to raise $36,700 to complete their projects. To that end, they sold raffle tickets for fifty cents each; prizes included gift certificates from Clementine, Bed Bath & Beyond, Greenberrys, Chanello’s, Court Square Theater, Fox’s Pizza, and Capital Ale House. They also had an AWESOME silent auction with a zillion really great items:
~ a half hour airplane ride with pilot Scott French
~ a beautiful framed mirror
~ assorted rings from Hugo Kohl
~ a one-hour massage from Kathryn Cheeks
~ two tickets to the American Shakespeare Center
~ Old Crow Medicine Show merchandise
~ bicycle panniers
~ a Natural Hair Care Basket
~ a compost roller
~ a day of skilled carpentry
~ a Natural Garden tote bag
~ two watercolor paintings by Shelley Pope
~ a kids’ cycling jersey from SBC
~ New Creation Body Products gift bag
~ JMU football tickets and prize pack
~ Walkabout Outfitters water bottle and t-shirt
~ Lunch with Mayor Jones
~ and a gift certificate from TJ’s Dermographics!

burgIMG_8561 burgIMG_8564On the lawn, people enjoyed two free meals, volleyball, face painting, tie-dyeing, corn hole, basketball, a swing set, each other, and live music all day by Tom Weaver, Eric Olson-Getty, Jeff Gorman, Jake Cochran, Kat and the Travelers, Dr.How and the Reasons to Live, Nic Melas, and members of the Walking Roots Band. You could also put money in a jar to vote either for Mark Doll to wear a Hillary 2016 shirt or for Ron to shave off his beard (!). Not sure if you’ve seen his photo on FB yet, but Ron lost. Big time. Hopefully, though, this year’s Lawn Jam was a big win for him and Our Community Place.

burgIMG_8513 burgIMG_8522 burgIMG_8524 burgIMG_8530 burgIMG_8534 burgIMG_8538 burgIMG_8540burgIMG_8551 burgIMG_8553 burgIMG_8555 burgIMG_8559burgIMG_8566 burgIMG_8572 burgIMG_8579 burgIMG_8582 burgIMG_8587 burgIMG_8590 burgIMG_8593 burgIMG_8596 burgIMG_8598 burgIMG_8607It was truly a beautiful day of beautiful people being simply connected by their common humanity and not disrupting a giant telescope. If you’re interested in volunteering or donating to the Kitchen Renovation, visit their web site, call Ron at 540-236-4314, or email him at ron@ourcommunityplace.org.

burgIMG_8584Copyright © 2012-15 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

all in: UNjuried exhibition.

burgIMG_6466In 1917, Marcel Duchamp submitted to the exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists an unusual piece of art called “Fountain.” It was really just a urinal turned on its side and autographed. The work should have been accepted, since the show was open to anyone who had paid the $1 fee, but it proved too controversial and was rejected. Today that urinal is considered one of the most influential pieces of art ever created because it asks the fundamental question, “What is art?”

And that influence has inspired an exhibition here in the Burg, opening this Friday, March 6. It’s called the unJuried Exhibition – all art work will be accepted, no matter what. Any medium, any object, anything that can be hung on the wall.

If you’re interested in participating, you can still submit: today 11am – 1pm, tomorrow 9am – 11am, and hours TBA on Friday.

I marvel at this idea.

Harrisonburg isn’t some art-starved, culturally bereft city where only a handful of artists ever answer a call for submissions. This place is packed with artistic folks. Locations all around town have no problem finding new art to hang each month, and juried shows with limited space can be extremely competitive – having your work accepted is a pretty big deal when you consider the odds, and so newer artists might have a hard time getting a foot in the door. But, to open the show to anyone, and everyone? All ages, all skill levels, all media? Isn’t that… dangerous?? I mean, what if the Darrin-McHone Gallery gets absolutely overrun with submissions?? What if there’s not enough wall space? What if someone submits a toilet?

I got to ask these and other questions to the show’s organizer, Jon Henry. You might already know Jon as the curator of the Old Furnace Artist Residency, a small house where artists can live for up to a month and experience the Harrisonburg art scene. Jon also collaborates with Larkin Arts for CSArts (Community Supported Arts), a program wherein, similar to a food CSA, people can buy a “share” for a set fee, then receive an original piece of art every month for several months.He’s also working on his MFA at JMU. Now Jon, a man of groundbreaking ideas, has organized this unJuried Exhibition, inspired by Duchamp’s bold submission a hundred years ago and by the idea that “everyone is an artist, and everything is art.”

So I asked him: What if you get too many submissions? What if there isn’t enough wall space? His answer? He’s excited about it. “I’m embracing it,” he said. He sat comfortably behind his laptop, accepting and recording the day’s submissions, looking as calm as a convent, completely unfazed by any calamity I was conjuring in my own mind. Plus, he assured me, other locations would display some of the pieces if Darrin-McHone filled up.

burgIMG_6448He’s all about inclusiveness. He staggered the submission times each day this week so that everyone would be able to find a time to bring their artwork to the gallery. Additionally, this system encourages diversity, as people with different lifestyles are available at different times of the day. Another interesting facet: there will be no names on the pieces of art unless the artist happened to have signed it already. Each piece will simply be numbered, and patrons can look up the artists’ names in a catalog that the Arts Council will provide. So it’s possible to view most of the exhibit without knowing whose work it is. The viewer can decide when to find out. Not only does this level the playing field and increase the feeling of community, but it creates, as Jon stated, a “visual conversation” not interrupted by labels and unnecessary words.

burgIMG_6454 burgIMG_6453When Brandy and I were there Monday, there were ten submissions so far: a sculpture, four paintings, four photos, and a mixed media piece. The show opens Friday for the public, and I can’t wait to see how many pieces there are. And if there’s a toilet. Don’t forget: you still have today, tomorrow, and Friday to submit your work and join this party! Check out the FB invitation for updates.

See you there!
burgIMG_6458Copyright © 2012-15 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

take me to cask: casks for a cause at three brothers.

burgIMG_5408bwI love genius combinations.

Some of you might remember the old commercials for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups: “Hey! You got your chocolate in my peanut butter!” “You got peanut butter on my chocolate!” And while the actual invention of the super-popular candy didn’t happen in the ’80s as the commercial suggests (nor was it nearly as sexy [hello, wah-wah pedal] — it was merely created by a guy named Reese in the 1920s who was just experimenting with candy recipes), it certainly is one of the greatest genius combinations of all time. There have been others. Like putting Velcro on children’s shoes. And the most recent pair of sneakers I purchased have memory foam in them. MEMORY FOAM! Or, for example, my son’s eggheaded idea to make a chess board out of LEGO. Even if you have to get up and move the board mid game, the pieces stay put. And Instagram would never have happened if someone hadn’t come up with the camera phone.

So recently I discovered another mind-blowing combination. As counter-intuitive as it might sound, you CAN be good to yourself and good to others simultaneously. It’s called Casks for a Cause, a monthly event at Three Brothers Brewing that benefits a local charity or initiative. The brothers design a specialty beer and donate a whole keg to the cause, and all the money from the sales of drafts from that keg go to the lucky organization.

burgIMG_5405This particular Cask for a Cause featured lots of genius combinations. First of all, the “cause” was Spitzer Art Center, and we all know that art and beer is a winning combo. The special cask of the night was Three Brothers Slide infused with honey and cayenne, a concoction that was smoooooth going down and then slapped you in the throat. And Mama’s Caboose was there serving up cayenne-chocolate brownies. THAT combo was ridickers yummy. And don’t forget the music: Jason Summer (DJ Real Gone) followed by Jeff Gorman is a combination I hope to hear again in the near future.

burg3bros4 burgIMG_5418Spitzer Art Center provides workshops and classes to the general public, such as oil and pastel painting, silk painting, and metal making. The center hosts a variety of art shows and speakers and provides studio space for seven local artists. This Friday, January 16, Spitzer Art Center will honor Barb Gautcher, featuring works by her and by many of her former students, including Todd Yoder, Molly Whitmore of Molly Whitmore Photography, Zachary Nafziger of ZN Stained Glass, Steven Stauffer, Bomb Proof, Ashley Miller of Ashley Sauder Miller Art, Elizabeth Frey Davis , and Kimberly Juda Souder. Barb is the recent winner of the Shenandoah Valley High School Art Teacher of the Year award AND the High School Art Teacher of Virginia Award. And on February 6, you can see ANOTHER genius combination called WORD: A Juried Show Uniting Writing and Visual Art, in which artists “write an original poem or short prose piece in any style, about any subject, and then use any medium to display/frame/decorate the words and/or the space around them.”

With the sale of the cask, the Spitzer membership drive, brownie sales, and generous donations, Spitzer far exceeded their fundraising goal. Three Brothers have supported numerous organizations in this way, like the Wounded Warrior Project, RISE, and Big Brothers Big Sisters. If your desire to be charitable and your desire to drink a beer happens on the third Friday of the month, save yourself one trip and just go to Casks for a Cause at Three Brothers.

burgIMG_5406Three Brothers Brewing is located at 800 North Main Street, just north of and across the street from The Little Grill. Spitzer Art Center is located at 486 West Market Street, a couple blocks west of Court Square.

Copyright © 2012-15 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

time flies: red wing roots music festival, 2014.

RedWingKidsDay three brought a new element to the Red Wing Roots Music Festival: my children.

Honestly, I was so excited they’d get to attend that I couldn’t get there fast enough that Sunday. In case you didn’t know, kids get in free at Red Wing, and there’s plenty for them to do. But I really wanted Bree and Cal to hear some music. So many times when bands perform, it’s way past bedtime. Great music shouldn’t be reserved for just the 18 and older crowd. I prefer to start influencing/molding/controlling their music interests EARLY. You’ll never find “Barney’s Greatest Hits” in this mama’s car. EVER.

We parked and started the trek to the Local Roots Stage, where we looked forward to seeing Bourbon Barrel Congress and Bryan Elijah Smith. I worried for a moment that the walk from the car would be a little long for the children… but who am I kidding? They’re young and strong and enthusiastic. Cal found a walking stick and that’s all he needed. Bree was fascinated by the sheer number of people and their cozy campsites. At the gate, one of the volunteers recognized the three of us — she’d seen our faces right here on this web site — and said she feels like she’s watched Bree and Cal grow up and then asked, “Do your kids just never argue?” And I could proudly say, “It’s rare.” Another volunteer suggested I write my cell number on the kids’ wristbands in case they get lost. But… my cell phone was useless out there, so I quickly scrawled “BRING ME TO THE STUMP” and said a quick prayer about the kindness of strangers.

On we went. We were a bit early for Bourbon Barrel Congress, so I showed them where the stump was — our meeting place should we get separated — and we got some Kline’s ice cream and an iced coffee from Lucas Roasting Company.

LucasRoasting JP Harris and the Tough Choices were on the South Stage, with that voice that could melt steel and sounds that could slice through it. I could see Brandy snaking her way closer to the stage, and the kids and I wiggled our way through the sweaty crowd to join her. We caught the last few numbers of JP’s performance, including the very first song he ever wrote, “If There Ain’t No Honky-Tonks in Heaven.” It made me think of Harper Lee and how she won the Pulitzer for her very first book. Why bother writing anything else when you hit a home run the first time at bat? Perhaps in JP’s case, because PEOPLE WANT MORE, for one. That band was awesome. Their new album, Home Is Where the Hurt Is (amen) comes out in a couple weeks, and you can catch them TONIGHT (!!) at Clementine in Harrisonburg. And I will see you there :)

JPHarris5 JPHarris6 JPHarris7Then we moved to the Local Roots Stage for Bourbon Barrel Congress. Thankfully we were able to sit in the shade, but still it was hot enough to shed about eight pounds of fluid while performing. But the heat didn’t slow these guys down; rather, it seemed to ignite their spirit and, likewise, the crowd’s. Soon everyone was clapping and stomping to the bellow of Chris Davis’ upright base, the squeals of Rene’s Devito’s fiddle, and the laughter of John Spangler’s banjo. On and on they barreled indeed, through an impressive eight numbers… lively instrumentals alternated with songs embroidered with Ethan Hawkins’ like-freshly-Windexed-glass voice. Cleeeaaan. Bourbon Barrel Congress will play at Harrisonburg’s Local Chop and Grill House October 17!

BourbonBarrelCongress3 BourbonBarrelCongress2BourbonBarrelCongress4When at last Bryan Elijah Smith and the Wildhearts, accompanied by singer/writer Krista Polvere, climbed up on stage, I felt both happy and sad. For me, this was the finale of the festival. After their performance, the kids and I would have to hit the road. So we savored every last note of their set. Their sound was huge — almost too big for the Local Roots Stage — and it felt like the amps would blow the tent down at times. But the warm sound lassoed us, hugged us all, and like a hypnotist’s spell, compelled us to stay put.

Since that performance I’ve purchased every single album of theirs, and I can’t help hear a bit of Dylan — both Jakob and Bob — in Bryan’s love-worn-leather voice and timeless words, paired with the band’s unique yet diversely broad instrumental style. If you liked what you heard that day, too, you can celebrate the release of their latest album, These American Hearts, at Clementine on September 12th. The show is proudly presented by our local Friendly City Food Co-op, Lucas Roasting Company, WMRA, and Three Brothers Brewing. It’ll be a good ol’ hometown party.

BryanElijahSmith1 BryanElijahSmith3 BryanElijahSmith4 BryanElijahSmith7On the way back to the car, the kids’ broad smiles and cute comments brightened each step.
“I want to see those bands again!”
“I can’t believe how loud that was!”
“When can we go to another festival??” and
“Mom, can I bring this rock home?” No. (Because, we sorta have a lot of rocks already at the house, you see.)
“Okay. See you next year, Rock!”

RedWingrockSee you next year, indeed!

Copyright © 2012 – 2014 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers.This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

life of the arty: art lotto 2014, first friday.

art lotto chalk2So the day after Art Lotto’s private opening was First Friday in downtown Harrisonburg, and this time the festivities spilled out onto the pavement in front of Larkin Arts. Just take a look at how much fun everyone had! And, the general public was extremely impressed with all forty-two portraits. It’s one thing to see photos of the artwork, here… it’s entirely another to see it in person. Kiddos enjoyed a whole bunch of fun activities like nail painting and sidewalk art, and hundreds of people kept caricature artist Susan Edelman busy all evening. Old Hill Cider was there to keep us refreshed, and Many Nights Ahead provided a live soundtrack for the whole shebang. It’s no wonder, between the talent represented in the show and the natural way Valerie and Scott host a party, that Larkin was one of Harrisonburg’s busiest art venues that evening.

Check out these photos, and then hurry down to Larkin Arts between now and September 3 to see the exhibit!

art lotto chalk art lotto caricatures1 art lotto sidewalk1 art lotto reflections5 art lotto reflections2 art lotto painting art lotto nails2 art lotto nails1 art lotto many nights ahead5 art lotto many nights ahead4 art lotto many nights ahead2art lotto many nights ahead1 art lotto many night ahead3 art lotto kyle BW art lotto crowd4bw art lotto coloring1 art lotto chalk3Copyright © 2012 – 2014 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers.This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

brush with greatness: art lotto 2014, private party.

photo“I think this year is the best year yet” was the most frequent comment of the evening.

You’d think after three years and 150-ish portraits, this town would run out of creativity. Nope. It just gets better and better. I’m talking, of course, about Harrisonburg’s annual portrait show, Art Lotto. The super-genius brain child of Brandy Somers and Denise Allen, Art Lotto challenges artists to create portraits — in any medium, really — of other artists. The judges, sponsors, artists, and other special guests get together for a private opening of the show, on the eve of its public reveal.

Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

On this evening, I arrived somewhat early to help an impressive crowd of volunteers/friends/artists convert Larkin Arts into a party space complete with DJ, catered food and beverages, and dance floor. In no time the shelves and counters were removed from the front of the store and replaced with cocktail tables, turntables, and speakers. Grilled Cheese Mania rolled up and prepared an unbelievable spread faster than you can say Classic Johnny, and Three Notch’d carried in two kegs of heaven like they were inflatable pool toys. Brandy, Denise, and Amanda of Sparrow’s Floral Design even made adorable table decorations.

art lotto food

food provided by Grilled Cheese Mania. Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

food provided by Grilled Cheese Mania. Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

art lotto amandaart lotto flowersThe distinguished guests began to arrive, mingle, eat, drink, and gaze at the dozens of portraits on the gallery walls. Mouths dropped open, shrieks and wows echoed through the space, hearts warmed, and any nervousness about the opening melted away like a warm grilled cheese.

portrait of Jay Herr by Zac Nafziger. Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

portrait of Jay Herr by Zac Nafziger. Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Portrait of Lynda Bostrom by Valerie Smith. Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Portrait of Lynda Bostrom by Valerie Smith, and of Denise Allen by Derek Niver. Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Portrait of Greg Sultan by Laura Thompson. Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Portrait of Greg Sultan by Laura Thompson. Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Portrait of Colleen East by Hannah Sions. Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Portrait of Colleen East by Hannah Sions. Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Before long, it was time for Brandy and Denise to announce winners and dole out awesome prizes. Here’s the low down:

Winner of Seeing Double — Valerie Smith’s portrait of Lynda Bostrom.
Winner of Most Creative Medium — Brandy Somers’ portrait of Avery Fary.
Winner of Originality Award — Laura Thompson’s portrait of Greg Sultan.
Winner of Master of Design — Ben Fraits’ portrait of Kyle Herr.
Winner of Kids’ Choice Award — Sharon Skates’ portrait of Laura Thompson.
Winner of Judges’ Choice Award — Zac Nafziger’s portrait of Jay Herr.
Winner of Artists’ Choice Award — Lynda Bostrom’s portrait of Derek Niver.

portrait of Avery Fary by Brandy Somers

portrait of Avery Fary by Brandy Somers

Portrait of Kyle  Herr by Ben Fraits. Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Portrait of Kyle Herr by Ben Fraits. Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

art lotto wall 4 bw art lotto wall 3bw art lotto wall 2 BW
art lotto prizes

Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Here are some fun facts about the evening you might not have known:
1. On the way to Larkin Arts to set up, one of the trophies (created by Ben Fraits) fell over in Denise’s car and broke. She was pretty upset about it. However, it was made of glass, so Zac Nafziger fixed it. He took home that very trophy later that evening.
2. Brandy ate a grape for the first time.
3. Brandy spelled the word “valley” wrong in the booklet, and I missed it when I proofread it for her. (Yep, look in your booklet now.)
4. Valerie introduced us to coconut oil for dry skin as opposed to plain old lotion.
5. The media used in this year’s show included ink, paper, wood, acrylic paint, wax, yarn, photos, glue, recycled paperboard, ebony pencil, charcoal, conté, Sculpey, oil paint, raku fired clay, string, watercolors, found objects, wax, beads, glass, canvas, plexiglass, metal, graphite, plants, film, and cake. THAT’S CRAZY.

Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

Photo courtesy of Cara Walton.

art lotto merch art lotto glass1 bw

After a most enjoyable evening of stuffing ourselves with food, drink, and art, the only thing left was to reassemble the art store and see how the public would respond the next day, on First Friday. We’ll share more in a day or two, but suffice it to say it was a great response! You can see these portraits for yourself now until September 3rd at Larkin Arts, located downtown on Court Square.

art lotto brandy denise2Thanks to Cara Walton for sharing some photos with us. The hostess was unable to take photos of everything, lol.

Copyright © 2012 – 2014 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers.This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

home bass: red wing roots music festival 2014.

redwingrootscrowd1Day Two of the Red Wing Roots Music Festival began with a discussion about the bird and the bees and at what age to let your kids in on the Great Secret. I’ve always believed that if a child is old enough to ask, she’s old enough to know (at least for this topic). When my daughter was seven, she asked WHY there were anatomical differences between boys and girls, and I said, “Because that’s how you tell what they are when they’re born.” Duh. Because, you know, they’re bald and all. She waved her index finger at me and replied, “I KNOW there’s more to it than that.” So I took a deep breath and I told her. I was SO NERVOUS. And when I was all done fumbling and stuttering and sweating over it, she said, “Well, that makes sense. Is that it?”

Then I had to tell her it’s kinda like Santa: other kids might not know yet, so don’t go blabbing and ruin it for them.

This was our conversation over a refreshing beer in the Blue Mountain Brew Garden before we snaked our way through throngs of people crowded in front of the South Stage to see Miss Tess and the Talkbacks. Don’t let the floral dress fool ya – that gal is fierce. They played several heart-pounding, dance-inducing numbers, plus “Hold Back the Tears” by Neil Young. In trying to describe their sound, the words country and funk both come to mind. With a modern-vintage vibe. So it’s like a modern-vintage funktry. Brandy and Ben attempted to dance and I wish I coulda hijacked the camera. Ha. I saw some students from my school, too, and I felt strangely proud to see them in the world outside of class.

redwingrootsmisstess2 redwingrootsmisstess3Over by the Local Roots Stage, kids were enjoying all kinds of art activities hosted by Larkin Arts and Artery. Sweet Denise Allen was facilitating the creation of a large, adorable, collective painting, while kids at the Larkin tent enjoyed bubble wands, coloring pages, puzzles, board games, printmaking, face painting, hair braiding, nail art, and even a scavenger hunt. There was also a Polaroid photo booth and a caricature artist! If you have kids and you’re looking for a kid friendly music festival, put Red Wing on your list.

redwingrootslarkin1redwingrootslarkin2redwingrootslarkin3redwingrootskidsbubbleSarah Jarosz has a haunting sound… perhaps not something you’d expect at a roots music festival filled with banjos and fiddles and ukuleles. She and her band mates – Alex and Nathaniel – toss around five or six instruments among the three of them and create a sound that is both gauzy and downhome, beautiful yet energizing. People like to be amazed at how young she is… and she is young and that’s impressive… but talent like hers doesn’t wait. We should not be surprised her gift showed up early. Just grateful.

redwingrootssarahThe first song she played – “Over the Edge” – I recognized right away because I think I’ve heard it on the radio. She also performed Radiohead’s “The Tourist” (WOW!!), an instrumental number by John Hartford called “Squirrel Hunters,” and one of my long-ago favorites, “The Wind” by Cat Stevens. What versatility!

redwingrootssarah2I need to dedicate at least a paragraph to all the amazing food we ate. There were at least a dozen vendors including Lucas Roasting Company to cool you down, warm you up, or re-energize you; Old Hill Cider; Blue Mountain Brewery; Grilled Cheese Mania; Jon Boyz BBQ Shack; Jack Brown’s; A Bowl of Good; Blue Ridge Pizza Co.; Goatocado; Cristina’s Café; and many others. I had a Carolina BBQ sandwich from Jon Boyz (yum!!) and two (yes, at the same time) Jack Brown’s burgers. At the condiment table I asked, “What’s this?” holding up a squirt bottle of whitish sauce. “That?” replied the girl on duty. “Oh, that’s liquid crack in a bottle. You definitely want that!” And I could eat that Crazy Cuban burrito from Cristina’s every day. Even Kline’s Ice Cream was there. All the comforts of home.

redwingrootsbbqredwingrootsfood3 redwingrootsfood2 redwingrootsfood1redwingrootslucasAfter Sarah, we spent a good deal of time decompressing in the Brew Garden, laughing and sipping and reminiscing. My friends are so dear and I’m so glad we spent this timelessness together. But before long it was time for the Steel Wheels to hit the stage, so we hauled ourselves up and over there.

redwingrootssteelwheels3The band started with a lovely thank-you to the fans for their support of the festival and used the word “home” like fifteen times. They also thanked Wade Lune (of Bella Luna, and formerly of the Mockingbird in Staunton) for his part in their involvement in this whole endeavor. A little later they thanked our humble Jeremiah Jenkins, who oversaw most everything we all enjoyed all weekend. We’ll never take you for granted, Jeremiah. You do so much. And did you know he helped write one of the songs the Steel Wheels performed? Yep. Just add that to the résumé. Among the favorites that evening were “Halfway to Heaven,” dedicated to Lucas Coffee, “Lay Down Lay Low,” and “Promised Land.” I swear, it was like Name That Tune. They’d strum one note and people would start screaming. We know them so well.

redwingrootssteelwheels5 redwingrootssteelwheels8 redwingrootssteelwheels4 redwingrootssteelwheels2 redwingrootssteelwheels1And just like that, it was time to head back to my car (on the first row this time—yow!) and drive back into the lonely reality. My kids would return Sunday and I couldn’t wait to bring them back with me.

redwingrootsfamily1We’ll share the third and final installment of our story really soon. Thanks so much for visiting this week!

Copyright © 2012 – 2014 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers.This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

 

 

 

 

change of art: arts council progressive party, 2014.

burgIMG_9619 burgIMG_9625bw burgIMG_9674 burgIMG_9675 burgIMG_9680 burgIMG_9696Copyright © 2012-14 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

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art of the matter: arts council progressive party, 2014.

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burgIMG_9597 burgIMG_9611 burgIMG_9652 burgIMG_9717bw burgIMG_9735Copyright © 2012-14 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

know by heart: some of my parts, blue nile.

some of my parts signWhen a friendship is forged in disaster, I think it means more.

It’s easy to be friends when life is sweet, when things are looking up and laughter is the norm. When life is good, our edges are smooth. We appear peaceful and benign. We radiate contentedness. We’re easy to approach, and easy to spend time with.

When life turns sour, as it does for us all from time to time, our ugliness hangs out. Our bitterness rises up, our tempers flare, our patience recedes. We go to bed worried and wake up sad and are just AWFUL to be around.

Anyone who would love you at your absolute ugliest is the truest form of friend there is. I keep using “we” and “you” as if to exclude myself from the very idea I’m writing about. So let me rephrase that. Anyone who would love ME at my absolute ugliest is the truest friend I could have. And I’m lucky to have a few of those precious people in my life. And my most dear friend, Brandy Somers, entered my world when I wasn’t exactly at my prettiest, and she recently complimented me in a way I wasn’t expecting. I knew she was putting together this massive photography show called Some of My Parts, and I knew she needed a photo of me for it, but it wasn’t until I was there, at the Blue Nile, looking at eighty-some photos on the wall, that I fully understood.

Her idea was to portray her life’s timeline through photographs. When we think of a timeline, we think of major events along a linear path, marked by years divided into neat increments. But life is so much deeper (and messier) than that — life follows no two-dimensional line… and really, it’s not the events themselves that are important; it’s the people involved in those events. So she made this list of, like I said, eighty-some people who held an important place on the timeline of her life, and she contacted them all and asked to take their pictures. She traveled all over the place, literally hundreds if not thousands of miles, to find each person and take a NEW photo. For mine, it was easy: she just walked the two hundred steps from her classroom to mine and clicked the camera. But some people on her list were in Alaska! Australia, even! So she had to get creative there. And some people had already passed… so she assembled a collection of things that represent those folks and snapped a photo of that.

some of my parts opening3Then I realized my portrait would be hanging among all these other important people. Really? Me? But… she’s seen all my ugly parts!

Every single photo is captioned. She showed it to me later — it’s FIFTEEN TYPED PAGES of captions she wrote. Mine says this:

“Katie Mitchell: friend, coworker.

Like two thorny roses rising from the ashes…that pretty much describes the start of our friendship. We experienced similar let downs around the same time in life…and Katie was my go-to, my levelheaded rock. She is a wonderful friend, teacher and mother. I love her so much I could start a blog about our friendship…oh, wait…we did that.”

I was so nervous to read my caption! (It seems so silly, but… well, you’ll understand in a minute. Stay with me here.) My face hung on the wall amid dozens of others, and I liked seeing it. Although my crows feet have deepened, my eyes are still bright, and I think I looked how I feel I look when sitting across from my best friend: safe, loved, and of course, a wee bit amused.

The whole process, naturally, got me thinking about my timeline and the people who would be on it. Of course my parents, who were present at most every major event in my life… my best childhood friend Kathy, who would ride bikes with me down to the creek, whose mom took us to see Dirty Dancing at the theater, with whom I’d stay up ALL NIGHT eating Twizzlers and playing Missile Command, Space Invaders, and Yars Revenge. And even my bully in middle school. I’m pretty sure he ending up killing someone and is still in jail. But he certainly made his mark on me, and he’d have to be on my timeline.

When you scroll through these portraits and read the captions (and this is just a tiny portion of them), no doubt you’ll be touched. But I struggle to describe the effect of them all, hanging together on the wall in a small space… all the faces gazing out collectively at the viewers… echoes of memories past and voices present. A collision of time and space.

Shawn Nicholson: cousin. When I was little, I thought Shawn was the coolest.dude.ever. I was annoying and he put up with me and made my days more interesting. I feared death a few times riding in his Mustang...then there was that time he shot me...but other than that he protected me from the world with his real advice and stories of trial and error.  Just for you, cuz: BB to the butt.

Shawn Nicholson: cousin.
When I was little, I thought Shawn was the coolest.dude.ever. I was annoying and he put up with me and made my days more interesting. I feared death a few times riding in his Mustang…then there was that time he shot me…but other than that he protected me from the world with his real advice and stories of trial and error. 
Just for you, cuz: BB to the butt.

PLUS, realizing that a good many people featured in the show are actually standing in the room with you. Everyone seeing double! It’s possible Brandy was the only person there who knew all the people there and on the wall. I probably knew twenty-five percent: most of these folks were strangers to me! How could I not know more of them, when they are so important to someone who’s important to me? But we ALL knew that everyone in that room was important to this woman’s life, and she took great pains to honor that.

Lori Simmers: former classmate. Lori and I went to high school together. When we graduated, Lori married her high school sweetheart and asked me to photograph their wedding. She believed in me and that stands out. I shot her wedding (my first wedding ever) on a Canon film camera. 

Lori Simmers: former classmate.
Lori and I went to high school together. When we graduated, Lori married her high school sweetheart and asked me to photograph their wedding. She believed in me and that stands out. I shot her wedding (my first wedding ever) on a Canon film camera.

Lee Parton: friend...damn near brother. My brother-from-another-mother for sure. Lee and I met and became insta-friends my freshman year at JMU. The bond was familial from the start and all the ups and downs in both our lives have only brought us closer. We have survived being roommates twice...I'm still not sure how that was ever possible.  Lee probably doesn't know it, but I may not have made it through my first year of college without his push. I admire his determination. He is a fighter, in the best of ways. Just for you, Dawg: Professor Parton...I need mah keys!

Lee Parton: friend…damn near brother.
My brother-from-another-mother for sure. Lee and I met and became insta-friends my freshman year at JMU. The bond was familial from the start and all the ups and downs in both our lives have only brought us closer. We have survived being roommates twice…I’m still not sure how that was ever possible.  Lee probably doesn’t know it, but I may not have made it through my first year of college without his push. I admire his determination. He is a fighter, in the best of ways.
Just for you, Dawg: Professor Parton…I need mah keys!

And so lots of people who’d never before crossed paths — ever — met each other that evening and came to understand where they stood in the story of Brandy’s life, in relation to each other.

Katie Turner: friend, neighbor. What I love about Katie is that she is always up for a spontaneous, fun adventure. Whether it be hiking Old Rag (in the wrong direction), getting turned sideways, tipped and scarred in a canoe on the Shenandoah river, midnight rides to Wendy's, or playing real life Where's Waldo on road trips...she showed me that positive, happy memories can be made during difficult times, even on random weekday evenings. Just for you, Katie: Eagles suuuuck!

Katie Turner: friend, neighbor.
What I love about Katie is that she is always up for a spontaneous, fun adventure. Whether it be hiking Old Rag (in the wrong direction), getting turned sideways, tipped and scarred in a canoe on the Shenandoah river, midnight rides to Wendy’s, or playing real life Where’s Waldo on road trips…she showed me that positive, happy memories can be made during difficult times, even on random weekday evenings.
Just for you, Katie: Eagles suuuuck!

Jake Miller: uncle. Jake is an electrician. One day Nanny and I took him lunch at a house he was working on. The house belonged to a photographer for National Geographic and I was totally enthralled with the quality of images all around his house. While Nanny and Jake chatted I wandered from room to room looking at the photographs. That day, I decide I wanted to do that. I wanted to take photos that mattered to people…that were memorable. If my uncle Jake had any other career, that moment may have never happened for me.

Jake Miller: uncle.
Jake is an electrician. One day Nanny and I took him lunch at a house he was working on. The house belonged to a photographer for National Geographic and I was totally enthralled with the quality of images all around his house. While Nanny and Jake chatted I wandered from room to room looking at the photographs. That day, I decide I wanted to do that. I wanted to take photos that mattered to people…that were memorable. If my uncle Jake had any other career, that moment may have never happened for me.

Maurice Burner: Pawpaw. A man of few words but the shrapnel in his leg proves that he has quite a courageous story to tell. This Dale Earnhardt lovin' father of seven is a pro at the boob-grab-photo-bomb (with his wife of course). He is earth conscious and the best farmer I know. He taught me the value of backbreaking labor with the reward of fresh produce at the end of the day.

Maurice Burner: Pawpaw.
A man of few words but the shrapnel in his leg proves that he has quite a courageous story to tell. This Dale Earnhardt lovin’ father of seven is a pro at the boob-grab-photo-bomb (with his wife of course). He is earth conscious and the best farmer I know. He taught me the value of backbreaking labor with the reward of fresh produce at the end of the day.

The impact of watching that phenomenon unfold was akin to being slapped with her big ole raw bleeding heart. Not in a horrific way, but in the sense that all the little bits of Brandy I’d seen over the years were now together, in one space, at one time, as if some great secret had finally been revealed. By the time I finally composed myself long enough to look at every photo and read every caption, including mine, I was stinging with emotion. They say the human brain is the most complex object in the universe. But maybe it’s the heart.

Nanny (Betty Longerbeam): best friend, grandmother. (RIP) There’s a video of the hospital waiting room on the day my son, Blake, was born. In the video, everyone is glued to the window surrounding the nursery as Blake is carried in by his father after my cesarean. Oohing and aahing filled the clip…except for Nanny. I could hear her concerned voice asking repeatedly, “Where’s Brandy? How is she? When can we see her?” Then she proceeded to count Blake’s fingers and toes…as she always did with all newborns. When Ella was born, my Nanny at the age of 70, drove from Strasburg, Virginia to Wilmington, North Carolina to meet her the day after she was delivered. Four miles from the hospital, Nanny was in a car accident that totaled her car. She was transported to the same hospital as me and when I wheeled myself down to see her, she waited until her young doctor turned around and gave him a trademark Nanny-breast-shake behind his back. She was the youngest 70 year old I have ever met. There was never a question in my mind that my Nanny loved me. She brought me into her home when I was a fresh baby human, cared for me until she passed and provided me with a lifetime of memories. She taught me how to drive and play rummy and laugh at life.  Her birthday is April 13, and this show is dedicated to her. Just for you, Nanny: Go buck a fuzzard.

Nanny (Betty Longerbeam): best friend, grandmother. (RIP)
There’s a video of the hospital waiting room on the day my son, Blake, was born. In the video, everyone is glued to the window surrounding the nursery as Blake is carried in by his father after my cesarean. Oohing and aahing filled the clip…except for Nanny. I could hear her concerned voice asking repeatedly, “Where’s Brandy? How is she? When can we see her?” Then she proceeded to count Blake’s fingers and toes…as she always did with all newborns. When Ella was born, my Nanny at the age of 70, drove from Strasburg, Virginia to Wilmington, North Carolina to meet her the day after she was delivered. Four miles from the hospital, Nanny was in a car accident that totaled her car. She was transported to the same hospital as me and when I wheeled myself down to see her, she waited until her young doctor turned around and gave him a trademark Nanny-breast-shake behind his back. She was the youngest 70 year old I have ever met. There was never a question in my mind that my Nanny loved me. She brought me into her home when I was a fresh baby human, cared for me until she passed and provided me with a lifetime of memories. She taught me how to drive and play rummy and laugh at life.
Her birthday is April 13, and this show is dedicated to her.
Just for you, Nanny: Go buck a fuzzard.

The moral of the story is… well, there are three. One, I am inspired to somehow incorporate this concept into my life. Because at the end of the day, we all just want to know we mattered to somebody. That we’re part of someone’s timeline. Two, what might seem like a casual or chance encounter with someone could change his or her life. Handle with care. And three, you have to see this. You have to. And you still can, upstairs at the Blue Nile (which is located at 181 North Main Street in Harrisonburg) between now and April 29. You’ll see a few more portraits here on the blog tomorrow and Wednesday, but please believe me when I say YOU REALLY HAVE TO BE THERE.

some of my parts openingBWCopyright © 2012-14 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

read it and keep: altered book contest, massanutten regional library.

altered book voteHaving been teaching and studying literature, and reading and writing for a long time, I’ve amassed a small library of books. They’re everywhere… all over the house. I haven’t quite made the leap to the e-reader yet, partially because I remember The Great CD Conversion of 1988 during which I spent a small fortune (for a 16 year old) replacing all my music cassettes. The thought of replacing just a tiny percentage of my book collection (say, the Joyce Carol Oates part, for example) is just too much to absorb. Plus, books are just prettier than an e-reader. I love how they look piled in a stack. I love moving them from the “To Read” stack to the “Finished” shelf. And some of their covers are nothing short of exquisite. In many cases, commissioned artists design those covers. And so a real paper and cardboard book is a work of art, through and through.

It’s sad to think of a book in a dumpster. In the landfill. But to hoard every book I’ve ever owned to prevent it from ending up in the trash is… well… hoarding. The neat freak in me can’t do that.

Much to my relief, my inner neat freak and my inner art lover reconciled once and for all when Brandy and I attended Massanutten Regional Library’s Altered Books Contest and Gallery last Friday. The practice of altering gives old, perhaps worn out books — books on the very brink of disposal — a new life and purpose. Their tattered pages no longer have endure the flips and tugs of careless readers; that pressure is gone. All an altered book has to do anymore is sit somewhere and look awesome, interesting, beautiful. The newly rendered “book” even gets a new name, as I noticed at the library’s display. Truly, a rebirth.

altered book balloonsSo we browsed the altered books, submitted for competition by adults (ages 18 and older) and youngsters (ages 12 – 17). We saw the piece created by last year’s contest winner, Diane Landis, entitled In a Dark, Dark House — she’d used several discarded books to create a majestic castle. Some were quite useful… like Carol K. Smith’s Hooked on Books. She turned books into a coat rack with a frame. Some were really large, like From Tree to Book to Tree Again — a big tree sculpture made by several artists out of pages of books.

altered book tree loomNancy Dauer built this huge loom thing out of torn up and disassembled books (From Words to Yarns — ha ha!). And Ben Fraits somehow glued the pages of his books together so they became completely solid, then carved them like a block of wood.

altered book fyodor altered book castleAnna Thornbury and Andrew Shantz cleverly constructed literal interpretations of their books. For example, a wooden stake pierced the cover of the book Dracula; the book Titanic appeared to be split in half by an iceberg; Joan of Arc was partially charred. They called this collection A Novel Death.

altered book stakeThe kids’ entries were even more impressive. Explosion featured origami exploding from the center of a school textbook. For Bird’s Eye View, Chantel Pence made a diorama out of a book. And in Alice is Stuck in Wonderland, a barbie doll Alice protrudes — stuck, indeed — from the center of the book.

altered book alice fans altered book foldsbwAll this awesomely creative art work simply is not something you can do with your Kindle. Sorry. Soon the library will announce winners in both categories — adult and youth — the winning “books” will be on display April 14 – 19. Can’t wait to find out how this story ends! And stay tuned for more photos this week!

altered book hostsCopyright © 2012-14 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

purrfect strangers: wonderkittens 2013.

___
–>wonderkitten bookwonderkitten fans1wonderkitten food2 bw wonderkitten food1wonderkitten comicwonderkitten tripwonderkitten nick melas bw wonderkitten food3wonderkitten artery bwwonderkitten fans2wonderkitten VSCopyright © 2012-13 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

the warm fuzzies: wonderkittens 2013.

wonderkitten signLet’s face it. Being a grownup just isn’t as fun as we thought it would be. When we were young, we couldn’t wait to be older… so we could stay up late, or watch a PG movie, or go on a date, or learn to drive. Once we reached those milestones (and all the buzz-killing responsibilities that accompany them), we longed again for our youth, back when no one was really relying on us, when sticks and rocks were far more valuable than money, when we measured time in increments of Sesame Street episodes. THAT was freedom. Remember it?

If you’re having a hard time remembering, I have a remedy. Spend some time with a kid. If you don’t have a kid handy, I have some I can loan you. When you spend time with a kid, you start by teaching them all the amazing, profound things you know. Then at some point, you realize you know nothing, and the child in front of you is the one who has it all figured out. And for a fleeting moment you glimpse the innocence and joy and unfettered love you were born with which has been buried under all your adult baggage. You can’t BE a kid again, but you can be WITH a kid… and that’s like the best of both worlds.

wonderkkitten music2wonderkitten fansThese worlds collided in a beautiful way when Brandy and Denise hatched yet another mind-blowing idea: why not pair up an adult, working artist with a creative youngster, and let them immortalize each other in a portrait? Let the child see what the adult sees, and more importantly, let the adult look once again through the tender eyes of a child. Moments after they thought it, Brandy and Denise set out to do it, and therefore, they did it. Because that’s what happens when those two get together.

wonderkitten ella flowersThey named the portrait show Wonderkittens. It’s goal was to “bridge the gap between the untapped creative mind of a child and a thriving, working, independent artist.” After securing several willing artists and children, Denise and Brandy created an online survey for everyone to complete, which helped them match the kids with compatible artists.
pairsThe artist’s role was to mentor the child, guiding him or her through the process of creating a portrait, adhering to a deadline, respecting craftsmanship, promoting the show, working together, and all else that goes into a collaborative project. The role of the child was to make the artist giggle with wild abandon, forget what time it was for a little while, remember with fondness his or her own childhood, and maybe secretly swing by McDonald’s for a Happy Meal. :)

wonderkitten_-_ wonderkitten____What actually happened was an incredible display of patience and tenderness on both sides. My daughter COULD NOT WAIT for her weekly session with her artist partner — Wednesdays at 7pm at the Dodger. She gratefully, and with more seriousness than I expected, soaked up his every word. He showed her, with unending generosity and kindness, all about pens and ink and paper and different comic styles. Other artists found ways to “get together” even when schedules clashed — through Skype or Facetime or even over the good old phone. One child wanted to create more than one portrait of her artist partner, and that’s just what she did, filling a whole corner of the Larkin gallery all by her cute self!

wonderkitten ___wonderkitten _--_I’m not sure the last time I saw so much cuteness in one place. Larkin Arts hosted the Wonderkittens opening on December’s First Friday. There were snack and drinks (thank you, Kathy Whitten!) kid-friendly music by Nick Melas, interactive art work by our local troupe Artery (Wes Way, you are an awesome human being!), and of course all the portraits.

wonderkitten musicwonderkitten artery1wonderkitten artery4 wonderkitten artery3 wonderkitten artery2The artists were used to seeing their work on a wall… the kids were really thrilled! And there, in that act, the gap was bridged. Perhaps the artists remembered when their art was displayed for others to see for the very first time. Perhaps the children, for the very first time, saw themselves as artists.

wonderkitten lynda_ wonderkitten morgan_ wonderkitten john_ wonderkitten ella_chriswonderkitten denise _ wonderkitten ben_ wonderkitten bree_tripwonderkitten _ wonderkitten __For me personally, I am extremely grateful to the grownups of this community who have not just touched but improved my children’s lives. I am so, so glad I live here. I am so, so glad my children are growing up here, amongst all you lovely people…. especially, these two:
wonderkitten D and B

Copyright © 2012-13 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

painting the town green and red: holiday art market 2013.

Art Market signValerie Smith is an industrious woman. Maybe it comes from having taught public school art, where your budget is like 17 cents a kid and you have to constantly make something from nothing, find ways to scrape together materials, and figure out how to get kids to complete projects when you only see them once or twice a week. Valerie just finds a way. I can picture her down there at Larkin Arts. “Hey, Val, can I teach a children’s class here this summer?” “Yes.” And off she goes to make it happen.
“Can I rent out a studio space?”
“Yes.”
“Can I have live music at my art opening?”
“Yes.”
“Food?”
“Yes.”
“Wine?”
“Yes.”
“Can I hang a 24-artist portrait show in your gallery?”
“Yes.”
“Can we paint a mural in your lobby?”
“Yes.”
“Can we set up tables and sell our arts and crafts in your store?”
“Yes.”
And then she scurries off, gathering tables and linens and chairs, lights and extension cords, nails and hammers and paint. Wine glasses and cork screws. She just finds a way.

Last Saturday she found a way to welcome twelve local artists and their wares into her store so they could set up and sell their goods at the first of two Holiday Art Markets this year. In warmer weather, the art markets take place outside on the sidewalk there, but knowing her artists and patrons would be more comfortable inside on that brisk morning, she practically gutted and rearranged several rooms to accommodate everyone. There were three in the lobby, four or five in the gallery, and six-ish in the classroom. I happened to have a little break from my kiddos that day, so I was really excited to get down there and help out.

Once everyone was set up and the market officially opened, dozens of customers strolled through… enjoying light snacks, pouring over beautiful hand-crafted items, and purchasing unique gifts for their loved ones. Here’s a run down of everyone who participated.

Roy Williams and his family create beautiful sculptures and chess sets out of Kenyan soapstone. I actually bought a chess set back in July at the Valley Fourth art market. My son loves playing “stone chess.”

Roy Willams soapstone2Chris Carter boasted a lovely display of blankets, hats, bows, and jewelry, and Denise Allen’s paper items rounded out the room. She had cards, stationery, coloring books, ornaments, and star-shaped crayons made from melted down crayon scraps.

carter Denise Allen paper1 Denise Allen paper2In the gallery area, Jauan Brooks displayed a beautiful assortment of jewelry and textiles, and Kelley Shradley-Horst sold her found art and eclectic jewelry.

Jauan Brooks art1 Kelley ShradleyHorst1In the lobby, you could see the impressive selection offered by Hannah Johnson, including some really amazing framed drawings. Ashley Miller’s paintings brightened up the space, and Mary Yoder had some lovely sketches, cards, and necklaces for sale.

Hannah Johnson artMary Yoder 1 Mary Yoder necklacesAshley Miller paintingsBrandy and Ben shared a table in one of the classrooms. Brandy sold her original tee shirts to raise money for Art Lotto 2014 and also offered gift certificates for photography sessions. She’s done A LOT of sessions in the past few, and her web site is all up-to-date, so please go there and see her recent work! Ben’s upcycled wine bottles are really cool. He takes wine bottles, or other glass bottles, and cuts them into a new shape for a new purpose, sands it down, and even etches. He specializes in wedding centerpieces. He also had some paracord items available.

Ben Fraits glassOf course, Brandy and Ben were positioned next to the Rosenwassers — Bruce and Leah. Being next to their table is like having to sing after Streisand or Sinatra. Their work just always makes the room explode. Leah makes absolutely gorgeous jewelry, and Bruce makes some of the wooden pieces she uses. Bruce also makes a variety of reclaimed wood items — mirrors, sculptures, collages, trinkets.

Bruce Rosenwasser heartsLeah Rosenwasser jewelry1Emily Rees’ paintings were instantly recognizable. So much color and contrast and texture, really gorgeous and timeless work. Next to her was Morgan Fink, whose bright prints happied up the place.

Emily Rees paintings 1bwMorgan Fink cardsAnd of course, Zac Naftziger was working in his studio there, and we could hear the “wow’s” in the next room!

ZN Stained Glass bwAfter getting there and getting set up and helping some customers, Brandy and I decided to slip out to the beer tasting at Downtown Wine and Gourmet. Also, I had to pee, and I didn’t feel I could concentrate well enough to shop until I was… more comfortable. So Ben manned the table while we scooted out for a few minutes. Of course, once at the wine shop, we told everyone we saw about the art market.

beer tasting1 beer tastingbwBack at Larkin, I was feeling better and could take my time to browse, and I decided on one of Mary Yoder’s necklaces. Brandy picked out one of her sketches.

Mary Yoder deer Mary Yoder necklaceIf you missed the Holiday Art Market, don’t fret. There’s another one! Yep, that’s right! On Saturday, December 14, you can come on down to Larkin Arts and do some more shopping. And TONIGHT at Larkin, come to the Wonderkittens Artist/Child Portrait Show! Starts at 5pm and features TWO Arteries (live painting, all can participate) and the music of Nick Melas! In fact, you might as well just bring a cot to Larkin for the next couple weeks and camp out. Valerie can probably find a way.

Copyright © 2012-13 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

recent developments: photographer expo 2013.

burg2013-11-01 17.08.00Brandy and Denise have the best ideas. First Art Lotto, and then Wonderkittens, and now this!

Get this: the two of them organized an event at Spitzer Art Center, where local photographers could set up an exhibit of their work for an evening and recruit new clients. Potential clients had the luxury of “shopping” for a photographer for their event — be it a wedding, a family reunion, a new baby, or whatever one’s imagination dreams up, really — in one space, and in person.

The place was busy that night. For three hours, dozens upon dozens of curious customers perused the displays of eight photographers, plus a display of upcycled glassworks by Ben Fraits, all to the live music of local cellist Rashaad Jones, the freshly brewed coffee of Lucas Roasting Company, and a room full of delicious food where I found meatballs several times that evening.

burg2013-11-01 18.56.23 burg2013-11-01 18.40.21The types of photography varied greatly, but the quality was top-notch at every display. Pinwheel Collective’s casual display featured casual, yet touching, topics: for instance, an older couple embracing in their kitchen, and in the next photo, walking together along a grove of trees.

burg2013-11-01 18.38.15Danilion Photography’s simple yet elegant photos prove that one doesn’t need a lot of fancy props or costumes — just an eye for the beautiful, while Lauren Rogers‘ wedding photos were out of this world. And she’ll even do a boudoir session — rowl! Those photos go in a book for you and your mate to enjoy… at your discretion, ahem.

burg2013-11-01 17.12.53Kristina Thompson focuses on family/couples/wedding portraiture, senior pictures, and BABIES (ohmygosh!), and between her and Kelly Williams, I thought I would die of a cute attack. There was one photo in particular of twins wearing knitted britches that made me want to borrow an infant for a few days.

Sometimes referred to as “the lightning guy,” Brian Ripley displayed large photographs printed on aluminum for a cool, shimmery effect… absolutely stunning images of sunsets, skies, and various time-lapse light experiments.

burgNEW3Ruby Sky’s display reflected their love of the vintage. Photographs featured suspenders and barns and old cars; an old train car; a retro laundromat, and even an old bus… displayed with antique plates. And rounding out the evening was Samantha Ritter — a dedicated wedding and portrait photographer who takes a lovely combination of classic wedding shots plus interesting close-ups and unique perspectives.

burg2013-11-01 19.18.21 burgNEW2Ben’s upcycled glassworks were something new for me… I wanted everything at his table, plus a glass of wine.

burg2013-11-01 16.46.00And all this beautiful work was supported by the music of Rashaad Jones, the coffee of Lucas Roasting Company, and floral arrangements by Sparrows Floral Design. Check out all their sites and see what they have to offer you!

burg2013-11-01 18.35.47burg2013-11-01 16.46.54 burg2013-11-01 16.47.04You can also support your neighborhood art center by becoming a member. Oh, and don’t forget… the event planners, Brandy and Denise, are ultra-talented, too and might be just what you’re looking for! Stay tuned for tons more photos… of photos… this week!

burg2013-11-01 20.00.52burg2013-11-01 17.09.32Copyright © 2012-13 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

check meowt: wonderkittens!

wonderkittens girlI’m so grateful to live in a community that values kids and sees them as vital citizens. So, so many opportunities for kids to perform, to play sports, to create, to learn, and just to enjoy life. And Brandy and I have highlighted many of those right here, from The First Tee, Ragtime Fabrics, and Glen’s Fair Price, to Dragonflies Toys, Larkin Arts, and Ten Thousand Villages. Oh, and the Cupcake Company and Westover Pool. The John C. Wells Planetarium. Oooo and one of my favorites, the Hostetter Museum of Natural History. And even our library, one of our first posts ever.

There are some really great individuals involved in the lives of my children, and to them I am forever indebted, because such kindness can never be repaid. It can only be paid forward. Brandy is one of those people. She’s family, really. I trust her as much as anyone with the hearts and minds of my kids. They love her so.

And now she and Denise Allen have cooked up yet another way to enhance their lives: Wonderkittens! It’s an apt name; kids love baby animals, and it’s sort of a play on wunderkind (in German, it means, like, Superkid, prodigy, etc.). Mozart, for example, was a Wonderkitten. Harrisonburg kids can be Wonderkittens, too, by participating in this year’s Art Lotto for young’uns.

wonderkittens groupYou remember Art Lotto. Local artists drew names of other local artists and then had to create a portrait of that artist. Portraits of artists by other artists. Wonderkittens is the same thing, except a child is paired with an already-established local adult artist. Each of them creates a portrait of the other. The biggest difference, though, is the level of collaboration. The artist must mentor the child: teach him or her how to budget time, meet deadlines, collaborate creatively, complement each other’s work, prepare the piece for display, promote the art opening… all the bits and pieces that go into being an actual artist.

first meetingBWMy daughter has been meeting with her partner artist for a few weeks now. I take her to meet him once a week — same time, same place — where they check in with each other’s progress and continue to discuss all those things I mentioned above. The whole who-got-whom thing is still under wraps — you don’t get to find out until opening night — but Bree’s partner artist is… well, a gift. He is extremely patient and kind, very encouraging of her work and her ideas, and just open and willing to guide her in whatever way she needs it. So far it’s been an amazing experience, one she and I both feel truly thankful for. And those thanks extend to all the participating artists, to the supportive parents, to Brandy and Denise for organizing this whole thing, and to Larkin Arts for hosting the exhibit.

bree hand 2BW bree handBWother handBWAs for Cal, he’s not participating, but he tags along with us. And I think it’s good for him to understand that some things are for his sister, and some things are for him. He seems to accept that we all need our own endeavors.

calBWNow for some details. Everyone who had expressed an interest completed a survey online.  Brandy and Denise used this survey to match each child with an artist. Questions on the survey included things like, “What is your favorite color?” “Who is your favorite band/musician?” “If you could design a restaurant, what would its theme be and what would you serve?” and “If you could have a superpower, what would you choose?” After looking at all the answers, the gals determine who’d be most compatible and paired everyone up. Then we all met at Mr. J’s to find out who was paired with whom. And since then, we’ve been meeting and scheming.

wonderkittens boy wonderkittens lyndaBree and her partner have to complete their work by the end of November. The exhibit will be part of December’s First Friday event (!!!!), and all the artwork will be on display that Friday at Larkin Arts!

Of course, there will be another, longer post when December 6 gets here, but for now I wanted to share all this good news and let you MARK YOUR CALENDAR to come see the artwork of my offspring! See you there. And don’t be late!

wonderkittens BW catCopyright © 2012-13 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.