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.

light up: spitzer art center.

burgIMG_3704Recently Brandy and I went to Spitzer Art Center for Howard Zehr’s opening of Pickups: A Valley Love Story.” (If you missed that post, you can get caught up to speed with one quick click.) That evening we were treated to a lovely crowd, lively music by Shenandoah Alley, savory snacks, and refreshing bevs. Not to mention, a whole lot of creativity.

burgIMG_3575 burgIMG_3588As I moved through that light-filled building, people danced and tapped their feet and rocked their chairs to the twangs and plunks of bluegrass. They sipped sweating glasses and threw their heads back in peals of laughter. They spilled out onto the wide porch and the plush yard and flopped on soft blankets under the big tree. And I thought, what a lovely place to spend some time.

burgIMG_3666collageburgIMG_3700 burgIMG_3701My friend Jewel, who used to teach art at my school, volunteers at the center. Having recently started back to school, I was glad to see her there and have a chance to catch up. Upstairs from the gallery are several artist studios — seven, I think. In fact, two or three of them are currently available for rent. The Pinwheel Collective works out of a studio at Spitzer, as do Barb Gautcher and Pat Augsburger.

burgIMG_3647burgIMG_3652Jewel has a studio at the back of the house — a beautiful, bright space colored with sunlight and supplies. Why is it weird to walk through an artist’s studio? Is it just me? It feels like walking into someone’s bedroom… because really, it is a sacred, intimate space, but it’s also a place for working, and I’m always nervous I’ll touch something or knock something down and mess up someone’s work.

I carefully and gratefully explored Jewel’s living, breathing studio. All the furniture mismatched and scuffed. Tubes of paint that have been squeezed to their absolute limits. Brushes that she’s washed a thousand times. The sloped roof and the siding and a wall of windows. So much history, so much potential. Jewel never stopped smiling the whole time she was in there, like she was lit from within.

burgIMG_3632 burgIMG_3649burgIMG_3627bw burgIMG_3630You can bask in the light there, too, on Saturdays from 10 – 2pm, and on the first Friday of every month starting at 5pm. Or you can rent one of those gorgeous studios and sit in beauty every day. Visit them soon!

burgIMG_3724
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.

rear view: pickups: a valley love story, at spitzer art center.

burgIMG_3615When I arrived at Spitzer Art Center last Friday, I parked near an interesting-looking pickup truck. An old, classic Chevy — teal, or maybe sea foam green. Its hood was open, and when I peered underneath, I saw a bottle of Crown Royal somehow rigged to the engine.

burgIMG_3623I thought, “This is gonna be a fun art exhibit.” Yes, you’d expect an art exhibit on First Friday at Spitzer Art Center, but this one sorta changed my expectation of art itself. This was art about art. It was, like, meta art or something. A new level.

On this Friday, you could view photographs from Howard Zehr’s new book Pickups: A Valley Love Story. The photos show pickup trucks with their proud owners. And not only are Mr. Zehr’s photographs beautiful, but the trucks themselves stand as gorgeous, gleaming sculptures of time and memory and grit and spirit.

burgIMG_3599 burgIMG_3587Mr. Zehr spent numberless hours interviewing truck owners, hearing their stories… of how they came to own their trucks, of harrowing and hilarious experiences with their trucks… of why their trucks mean so much to them, then published it all in his book. And so that sunny evening, the walls of Spitzer shone with images of much-loved trucks and the words of their adoring owners.

burgIMG_3609bw burgIMG_3583bwSome owners, like Lois Brown, appreciate practicality in a vehicle: “It’s not what I call pretty, but it sure is comfortable,” she says of her brown and beige Ford. Actually, I saw several of those two-tone trucks that night. I probably never noticed before, but they are pretty. I saw photos of trucks for hunting and hauling and just rolling over stuff. Even for selling coffee, like Tom Hayman of Grains of Sense. Some owners use their trucks as other vehicles, like Josh Bacon: “The kids like to pretend it’s a boat and fish off the back.” A practical solution for imaginative youngsters. And Corey Oomps — he loves his truck because “I like horsepower.” Fair enough.

Yes, trucks have lots of practical uses, but some owners even feel like their trucks make them better people. Like Matthew “Goosey” Dolemar, who says, “Without the truck, I’d probably just be mean!” And Shannon Pollock has realized that “each thing that’s wrong with it means it’s something else I get to learn.” A kinder, smarter nation… one truck at a time.

burgIMG_3596Some owners love their trucks for purely sentimental reasons. Richard Randolph’s truck is “a real joy, that it can be as old as it is and still be useful.” And some keep their trucks as a reminder of days long gone, like Bill Goldberg: “It’s one of the last links to my long hair, Grateful Dead, hippie days.”

However, the most touching element that seemed to pervade the entire exhibit was devotion. Everyone’s got that one true truck love. According to Eric Beck, any new truck is just a “rebound” truck — acquired to ease the pain of losing a former truck love. You can literally see the commitment people have for their trucks, some with mismatched parts… evidence of owners desperate to repair and preserve their trucks, whatever it takes. No matter what kind of patchwork quilt it ends up looking like, that truck you fell in love with is still in there, dang it. Nancy Slye possibly relocated here from New York just to use her truck more: “Running around in a pickup in New York — that was not a cool thing to do.” You know it’s serious when you actually move to another state for the one you love.

burgIMG_3570You can see the exhibit all month at Spitzer Art Center on 33 West just a block or two from downtown. Of course, you don’t get to see all of Mr. Zehr’s photos or read any of his stories (including the one about that Crown Royal truck!) unless you get the book itself. You can find it at Barnes and Noble, or from the publisher, or you can get a signed copy through his web site.

In our next post, we’ll tell you, and show you, a little more about Spitzer Art Center and our visit there. And, of course, several more megabytes of photos. Stay tuned!

burgIMG_3683Copyright © 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.

brandy awesomers: larkin arts youth summer art program.

dry erase board in classroomMy friend is so talented. So talented!!

Brandy Somers works all year as a high school art teacher, photographs their creations, this beautiful city, and adventures with her loved ones and publishes it all on FOUR blogs (or five??), heads up a massive portrait show each year, participates in several art exhibits throughout the year, volunteers, raises children… I aspire to be like her in so many ways. She somehow seamlessly weaves all this into her life — a life full of color and texture, people and love, laughter and light. And last week I was able to see her talent in action as she taught a class at Larkin Arts… about something she does beautifully: weaving.

kids weaving basketsValerie Smith has been heading up this summer art program for years, only now she gets to host it at her own shop. She put out a call to local artists who’d like to teach a week-long class, assembled a fine group of those people, and sort of let them decide what it was they would teach. Then Valerie worked with the artist/teachers to determine appropriate age groups and ordered the necessary supplies. The twenty-six classes run through August 16 and serve kids age six to fourteen.

My kids and I arrived toward the end of her class entitled “Basket Full O’ Fun” — a week-long seminar dedicated to basket weaving, but which turned into much more.

To start each three-hour session, Brandy had students complete a quick sketch (in their self-made sketch books) centered around a particular topic, like “what was your worst injury?”, “draw your scariest moment” and “your biggest accomplishment”, and “what super power would you most like to have?” Answers, in the form of sketches, ranged from stubbed toes to falls from fences and split chins, from scary moms in masks to creepy cardboard cut-outs of Dale Earnhardt, and from super sniffing and shape-shifting to shooting something you want straight out of your hand (in Ella’s case, a bagel and drink). Pretty much everyone agreed that the pouch baskets were their most recent major accomplishment.

kids drawings on wallAfter the sketches, Brandy began the lesson. The week started with making a type of basket called a bean pot. The apt students caught on quickly in weaving these large, sturdy baskets, and in no time, had some gorgeous finished products.girl weaving basket

kids weaving baskets boy holding basket kids holding basketsThe pouch baskets (like a little purse) turned out equally beautiful but were harder to make and required patience and teamwork. Still, the determined students (and teacher) pressed on and completed the job on day three. !!!

group weaving pouch baskets hands making pouch baskets hands making pouch basketsNever fear. This isn’t Brandy’s first rodeo, and although the kids had completed her week-long class in a mere three days, she had more tricks up her sleeve. In fact, she needed sleeves… to make tee shirt rugs using hula hoops as looms. This is where Ella’s super power would have really come in handy. It takes A LOT of tee shirts to make enough strips for five kids to each weave a rug, so what super heroes came to the rescue? Denise and Sean Allen, that’s who. They showed up with a gigantic donation of old tee shirts. Let the shredding begin!

class weaving hula hoop rugskids hula hoopingA well-deserved and much-needed break.

And that awlsome project lasted clear through Friday’s class, when I was there visiting. One student was determined to finish her rug as a father’s day gift. Another’s strips kept getting tangled up. This student’s rug was finished and needed to be tied off, while that student still needed more strips of red fabric. Brandy moved with ease around the room, as she always does, helping everyone, as she always does… never losing patience, always speaking kindly, laughing and enjoying the moment, weaving color and texture and light into their lives, at least for one week.

girl weaving hula hoop rug girl weaving hula hoop rug boy weaving hula hoop ruggirl with hula hoop loom hula hoop rugsBrandy and I have taught at the same school for years, but it’s not often that we see each other during class. It was a real treat to see her in this element, and I mean that sincerely. Any person — young or old — would be lucky to receive her instruction, or her friendship.

There are still weeks and weeks of classes available to your kid this summer. Many of them still have space available, so now’s a good time to get signed up. They’ll be taught by professionals who love their craft and aren’t afraid to show it… just like Brandy.

kids holding final productsCopyright © 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.

a working glass man: ZN stained glass.

close up of fused glass necklace

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–>handful of broken glass stained glass artist's studiodesk with Easy button stained glass artistCopyright © 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.

glass act: ZN stained glass.

mirror with photographerSometimes doors close for a reason. A beautiful one.

This was the case for Zac Nafziger, a former employee of Rosetta Stone who, along with several others, was laid off after twelve years with the company. He had enjoyed the steadiness of it, the reliable pay and benefits, the friendships forged there. He had enjoyed working in the heart of the city, watching it change and grow, watching the company change and grow from a small business to a formidable global presence. And so, when the layoff occurred, it was like a strange break up — at first, heartbreak and shock, but then a realization that the relationship had indeed changed, and maybe it was instead an opportunity.

Artist in studioHaving studied, appreciated, and practiced art since his adolescence, Zac soon decided that the most feasible option for him and his family was to dive headlong into the stained glass business — the selling of it, not just the making of it, which was new and slightly uncomfortable territory. Today, suddenly he finds himself doing just that: he reports to his studio at Larkin Arts each day, makes stained glass, and sells it. And although he no longer has the safety net of a bona fide employer, he’s doing all right. Moreover, he’s a happy fellow.

stained glass studioHe packed up all his gear and supplies and traveled 1500 miles to set up ZN Stained Glass in a studio space at Larkin Arts, just a block or two from his former job. Yep, 1500 miles. 15 miles, 100 times. He has a lot of stuff. He does note some important differences between being your own boss and working for someone else. For example, you don’t get paid when you use the restroom, or leave for a quick lunch, or chat with a colleague. No. Now, any sort of break during the day costs him money. If he’s not working, he’s not earning, and that’s an interesting reality many of us don’t know. It might sound great to set your own hours and work wherever you want… the library, a coffee shop, at home… but it takes discipline. As he says, at home there’s always some distraction. The TV, or the Internet, or some household task. Suddenly the day is gone and nothing’s accomplished. Bleeding money. So he tries to work at Larkin as much as possible. There’s really nothing else he can do in his small studio but produce.

stained glass studio cubbies full of glassHis process is interesting yet simple. His inspiration comes in the form of personified ideas that talk to him, usually interrupting him while he’s already working on a piece. So he might sketch that idea just as a reminder, and then draw a full-size picture of it before he starts to cut glass.

artist tableHe might put on a movie or a series of reruns just for background noise (this is part of Brandy’s process, too), but sometimes he works in total silence. He usually works barefoot, and his work table becomes a glass-shard pricker bush that slices his forearms when he leans into it. (I know it sounds masochistic, but it’s the process, people.) Many of his works, as you can see from the photos, contain circles and geometrics, some that are sort of pattern-ish and some seemingly random, but all somehow adding up to a cohesive, comprehensible, eloquent final product.

stained glass blueThis appeals to people because much of his work is beautiful without it having to be something. There might not be a single recognizable object in one of his works, but its arrangement is gorgeous in a way you won’t grow tired of. There’s a quiet, timeless sophistication about his work that cannot be acquired in the home goods section of any store. If my description falls short, which I’m sure it does, just go on down to Larkin and see him at the studio. He’s quite friendly and seems to like talking about his work and current projects; right now he’s working on stained glass inlays for an entire kitchen’s worth  of cabinets, plus wine cellar doors.

Other than his artistic abilities, he says his strengths lie in cooking on the grill, solving problems, and being able to see the big picture… which all sorta relate to his craft if you think about it. I mean, you have to be able to see the big picture when you’re arranging a couple thousand tiny pieces of glass. And his latest news is this: he pretty much bought Avalon Stained Glass School in Kentucky and everything inside it, and he’s driving to Kentucky this weekend to get the loot. It’s like FIFTEEN years worth of glass. So he was pretty excited when we were there with him today.

When I first saw the name of his business — ZN Stained Glass — I thought it said “zen.” And then I wondered if his middle name starts with an E, because it would be cool if ZEN were his initials. They’re not. But I refuse to let go of the yin/yang thing going on here… that he lost his job, which seemed like a disaster, but it turned into a blessing lined with luck and hard work and faith. Two sides of the same coin. You know, like a circle.

stained glass pieceCopyright © 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.

city kids: a guide to summer fun in the burg.

I don’t know about you, but during the school year, I am BUSY. And my kids are busy. The end of the year arrives none too soon, but still shockingly fast, and I often find I’m… unprepared. Come Monday, June 10, I’m going to have that “oh-my-gosh-what-the-heck-am-I-gonna-do-with-the-kids-now” freak out. But this year, I’m determined to be prepared when they ask, “Mom, what are we going to do today?” So I’ve compiled this list — for myself, for you, for everyone who might find themselves in this predicament — of activities, camps and classes offered by Harrisonburg businesses and organizations to keep your kiddos busy allll summer long.

kids on a slip-n-slideSpitzer Art Center Children’s Workshops
Children ages 5 – 10 can sign up for one of many classes offered at the center. Register one week ahead for topics such as collage, drawing, water color, greeting cards, and more.

Larkin Arts Youth Summer Art Program
Kids ages 6 – 14 can attend week-long, 3-hour classes for $85. Classes include papier mache, sculpture, basket making, drawing, collage, photography, food art, painting, and a bunch of others.

larkin arts signArts Council of the Valley and Court Square Theater Summer Art Camp
These 3-hour, Monday to Friday classes cost $80 and include acting, characterization, script writing, choreography, improv, singing, dancing, poetry, filmmaking, comic creation, plus many more. Ages 6 – 15.

You Made It! also offers week-long camps, Monday to Friday for three hours, for $185. Ages 6 and up. Classes include clay, canvas painting, wheel throwing, pottery painting, fused glass, and several others.

kid in treeExplore More Children’s Museum offers 4-day classes, three hours per day, for ages 3 – 5th grade. Topics include LEGO engineering, Jedi training, Culinary Kids, Project Funway, Castles, Crowns and Catapults, Animal Adventures, and Construction Junction, to name a few.

kids hands holding LEGOSBlue Ridge Community College Learning Can Be Fun 
BRCC offers a zillion classes for grades K – 12, including art, music, dance, theater, culture, history, literature, nature, science, technology, sports and outdoor recreation. The classes run Monday – Friday for 3 hours each day, through the end of July.

James Madison University
JMU also boasts a large assortment of camps for summer kids, including baseball, softball, soccer, basketball, volleyball, lacrosse, football, fencing and field hockey. They also offer band camp, diversity studies, poetry workshops, nonviolence seminars, and STEM classes.

Harrisonburg Parks and Recreation
In addition to spending some time at one of our many city parks, like Purcell, A Dream Come True, or Hillandale, your child can enjoy swimming at Westover Pool (open Monday through Saturday noon to 7pm and Sunday 1pm to 7pm) and a variety of classes. Some of their offerings include guitar, mountain biking, water adventure, adventure sports, rock climbing, rafting/kayaking, a ton of dance classes, archery, fishing, jump rope, skate boarding, and pretty much every major sport.

child in pool child at poolMassanutten Regional Library kicks off its annual Summer Reading Games, but you have to register THIS WEEK to get the free pass to the Massanutten Water Park. Other activities include Baseball Storytimes (Turks read to kids), Crafty Kids, LEGO Club, and Stitch and Knit, plus others.

RMH Wellness Center has full- or half-day camps on a weekly basis, for kids ages 4 – 11. Kids will learn about topics like dinosaurs, medieval times, the ocean, and space, plus participate in activities like swimming, rock climbing, indoor and outdoor games, playground time, crafts, fitness, and sports.

Library signYes, summer is about relaxing and decompressing after a stressful school year, but keeping your kids active will make them healthy, blah blah blah. Really, it’ll make them SLEEP WELL at night :) So sign up for something today! Consider it an investment in the sanity of your household. You’ll all be better for it.

child asleep in carCopyright © 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.

loud & clear: MACRoCk 2013.

MACRoCk tee shirtOn Sunday, April 7, I saw this post on Facebook and laughed out loud:
macrock facebookIt was like 8pm.

Not surprising. God bless those folks who once again brought this two-day music conference and thousands of people to Harrisonburg. I can’t even imagine where to start putting something like that together. If I can get rice, chicken, and green beans to be ready at the same time, I’m impressed with myself.

We attended MACRoCk on Saturday, the second night. And actually, the day started early, at the Larkin Arts first-ever Art Market (read about that here). More than a dozen artists plunked their wares on tables outside the Denton building. It was sunny and bright, people were chatty and cheerful, and the burg was a-bustle with locals and visitors alike. A happy morning.

Many Nights AheadAfter a bit we made our way to the Blue Nile for the label expo, where we saw books and upcycled clothing, tee shirts, buttons and stickers, pottery and “animal-friendly taxidermy,” and, refreshingly, lots of vinyl.

Label ExpoLabel Expo Label ExpoThen Brandy had to scoot out for a bit, and Michael and I headed to the Dodger. By now it was 2:30. We’d already been downtown for four hours and had ten hours yet to go. When we arrived there, Pachangacha was on stage and the place was packed. We found a tiny sliver of space at the bar. It was funny to watch the crowd come and go. After Pachangacha finished, this massive throng of people vacated, chasing the next show, and some seats opened up. We quick planted ourselves at a table. We enjoyed a performance by Amanda X — three ladies out of Philly: Cat Park, Kat Bean, and Tiff Yoon. They released their first EP back in August. Have a listen! Then sure enough, the mass of spectators shoved through the doors, and this time we scored a booth!!

Artful DodgerNext up was a band from New York called Lvl Up whose latest album Extra Worlds had JUST been released that very day. And they were loud as ohmyfreakinears. In a good way. And with quiet segments that would build to some kind of sonic boom. They’ve got two guitars, a bass, and drums, and they took turns singing or sometimes all three of them sang. I heard a little hint of Weezer at times. They were really great, and it stands to reason that we liked the next band, too — Sirs — because the two bands share some band mates.

MACRoCk Dodger 8 MACRoCk Dodger6Seat update: After Lvl Up we snagged the coveted “circle booth” at the Dodger. We knew Brandy would be coming with Danielle and Ben, and I was right tickled to know that everyone would have a seat. So we moved ourselves and all our stuff one last time, and stayed there through two more bands.

Artful Dodger 3As I was saying, Sirs played next and then Monument, from Maryland. Both bands were awesome, freakishly loud, extraordinarily tight. Brandy (sporting her MACRoCk press pass…. eeeeeee!), Ben, and Danielle arrived and we all mouthed “hello” to each other. Then we had a conversation about where to go for dinner by passing around a spiral notebook. Yes, it was that loud. Louder even. I felt like I was stuffed with cotton. In a good way.

press passIt should come as a surprise to no one who ever reads this thing that we ended up at Beyond. I don’t remember a whole lot about our dinner conversation, probably because I couldn’t hear ANY of it. But a good portion of it was devoted to the fact that Beyond had just gotten a keg of Juju Ginger beer, and Brandy got THE FIRST GLASS OF THE SEASON. This was better than the press pass, I think.

Juju JujuWe also talked about the band descriptions in the MACRoCk program. Some of our faves:

Black Mask – If you’ve never been curb stomped, Black Mask is probably the closest you’ll come without doing the deed. Metallic hardcore from Punxsutawney, PA for fans of early Converge, Nails, and Black Breath. Makes you wanna puke blood in the best way.

Barbelith – Atmospheric depressive black metal inspired by the wrathful elder gods, soiled by the scummy streets of Baltimore.

Borrowed Beams of Light – Borrowed Beams are a soundtrack to the perfect sunny summer indie-rock barbeque that you and all of your friends want to get drunk at.

Dope Body – Noise-rock freakcore from Baltimore. Do you ever think that your punk could use a little more metal and your metal could use a little more funk and that your funk really should be garage rock and not funk? You’re on this band’s wavelength then. Noisy guitar spazzouts are cut with freak hybrids of punk and funk rhythms.

Legs Like Tree Trunks – Mellow guitars with a side of reverb-heavy twinkles and soft-sung, dreamy vocals. Sounds like taking your shoes off after a long day of work.

Shat Shorts (omg) – Very, very weird punk. Blends hardcore, noise-rock, and thrash into one ridiculously chaotic package. Rhythms jump and shift drastically, and this one guitar is just spazzing out the whole time.

Other than that, the only really notable part of the conversation was when Brandy asked, “Wait. Is Jimmy short for James?”
Beyond Restaurant Beyond sushi

fansUnlike the hordes of people who zigzagged through downtown, moving in and out of venues like kids on a scavenger hunt, we tended to stay a while. So our second and last stop of the evening was Court Square Theater, where we saw Wynter Poe, Half Circles, and Timbre. That place is so comfy, what with its cushioned rocking chair-ish seats, age-defying lighting, and beer, there’s just no good reason to leave. We got there at about 7:15 and found seats on the front row. Good for photographs, and good for leg room.

Wynter Poe was unexpectedly awesome. I mean, we really had no expectations, but she impressed the crowd. The band — four people including Wynter — played at least five instruments: a couple of guitars, a bass, drums, a dulcimer. Here and there they sounded a bit like The Sundays, and Wynter’s vocal quality reminded me of Christina Perri. Other than that, the band defies comparison.

Wynter Poe Wynter PoeWynter Poe Wynter PoeIt was fun to see Half Circles, an eclectic Harrisonburg band who played far more instruments than they collectively had hands for. The guitar at times smacked of The Cure; another description that comes to mind is “bluesy Smashing Pumpkins,” but neither of those comparisons can pin down their multi-dimensional sound because suddenly there’d be a melodica or a xylophone or a flute to change my mind. Honey-laced vocals by Dan Baker and the unassuming, hands-in-pockets Amanda Styer led each tune and provided a solid foundation for their instrumental concoctions.

Half Circles Half CirclesWe fell in love with Timbre last year and couldn’t wait to see her again. And hear her, too, of course. But part of a live show is the visual aspect. And when one band member is seated behind a cello, one is seated behind a harp, and one behind a drum kit, you might not expect much in terms of a visual experience. BUT, that cellist was amazing to watch, Timbre looked beautiful in her gown behind that gleaming harp, and the drummer (who played a gorgeous wooden Whitney kit) actually danced while he played. They were all obviously quite happy on stage and love what they do. So they looked great. Add to that their incredible, crystal clear sound. They are made for live performance because their hypnotic music fills the space so well.

Timbre TimbreAdd to THAT their lyrics. Lines like “No one will know you long enough to sing your song back to you when you’ve lost the tune” juxtaposed with “Pain can be beautiful, my dear.” And a song inspired by the George MacDonald story “The Day Boy and the Night Girl” about light and dark and how they came to discover each other. The song centers around her perspective, from her dark cave. Her lamp, and the only light she’s ever known, breaks. She finds a way out of the cave and sees the moon for the first time. Then she meets Day Boy, and he shows her the sun. She wants the light, even if it hurts or kills her. He wants to be unafraid of the dark. They need each other’s strength. As the song says, “If I have seen only the night, can I imagine the day?” We see what we know; we know what we see. Sometimes we must step out blindly, even when it’s scary.

And on that “note,” (oh, ha!), we stepped out into the dark night with the moon shining and music playing in the distance and people laughing and our minds buzzing and our ears ringing. In a good way.

See you next year, MACRoCK!!

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.

what makes the burg go round: LOVEworks.

On Saturday, April 13, the kids and I made our usual trip to Shank’s Bakery and the Farmers Market when we spotted our friend Nicole in the back yard of the Arts Council building. And then we remembered it was a special day! It was the day to unveil LOVEworks!

LOVEworks 3The caution tape around the large, six-foot letters was intriguing enough — toddlers chased each other between the letters and tugged curiously at the yellow ribbon — but Cal was especially impressed by the giant novelty scissors Nicole pulled from the trunk of her car. He promptly noted she was NOT running with them because that would be “extra-dangerous.”

Before she and other officiants cut the ribbon, she filled in the gathering crowd on the unique project. LOVEworks is a program by the Virginia Tourism Corporation that seeks to promote the message that “love is at the heart of every Virginia vacation.” Harrisonburg makes the twenty-first city in Virginia to create and display a LOVEworks sculpture. You can see pictures of the other twenty sculptures at the Virginia Is For Lovers site.

LOVEworks collageHarrisonburg artists Nicole Martorana (yes, she wears a lot of hats), Jeff Guinn, and Mike Herr designed our love letters, each six feet tall and spanning a total of sixteen feet. The L represents Harrisonburg’s cultural diversity and is covered with a photographic collage of local residents’ belongings from their native countries. The O is wooden, representing agriculture, with a planter built into the top (holding strawberries, sedums, and other native plants) and metal sides that will rust over time.

LOVEworks sculptureThe V is made of bicycle parts and spray-painted blaze orange to symbolize our cycling, hunting, and fishing friends. And the E is a combination of magnetic dry erase and chalk board designed to be an interactive symbol of Harrisonburg’s love of art. In fact, it can be used as another exhibit location on the First Fridays art walk.

And then, the giant scissors snapped and LOVE became an official fixture downtown.
But we already knew that, huh? :)

LOVEworks coupleCopyright © 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.

spring loaded: larkin arts.

Like cutting into a head of iceberg lettuce, like riding a bike downhill, like the snap of a beer can opening, like biting into a York peppermint patty. FINALLY. Spring in the valley. A gorgeous, reviving, sunny day. For a moment I noticed it was cold in the shade, but I quickly pushed that sensation away, refusing to acknowledge our lingering winter any longer, and basked in the heat of the warm sidewalk and my steaming cup of coffee. The natural radiance of the day was appropriately punctuated by beautiful and striking works of art generated by our sizable local art community. It couldn’t have been a finer day. Plus, it was nice not to be out in the rain or snow or wearing my clunky boots and my old gray coat.

harrisonburg springtimeA dozen or so local artists set up displays of their work at Larkin Arts’ first ever Art Market, held right there on the Court Square and spilling over into the Denton building parking lot. Even before its official start at noon, folks who were clearly on their way somewhere felt compelled to pause, peruse, and talk with the artists.

Here’s a little snapshot of the artists there that day.

Trip Madison wasn’t actually present, because he was out of town, but his work made it to the market: prints of acrylic and ink on wood and printed on metallic paper. To the left of his table was Daniel Suter and his bearded demons and monsters. I guess they are scary looking creatures, except for their lovely, flowing, feather-drop beards, but one — the purple one — didn’t seem so demonic. He seemed benign, wistful, even sympathetic. I wanted to take him home.

daniel suter larkin artsAround the corner we found Paul Somers displaying multiple photographs, including Polaroids that carry such nostalgia, like stumbling on an old forgotten box of photos in your parents’ attic. Paul shared a table with Chris Fulmer, whose work was also tangibly personal — like photocopies of his journal, for example — and, therefore ironically, free.

artists at marketMorgan Fink displayed prints of her oil paintings and drawings done in pen & ink with colored pencil, and Angus Carter shared an immeasurable variety of work with those who browsed his table. I liked that “What a Fox” fox portrait, and pretty much everything in the box labeled TESTS & DOODLES.

There was also some recycled art work: Andi Senatro of Andi’s Green Art displayed mosaics, guitar picks, and other items made entirely of chopped up Starbucks gift cards, and Kelley Shradley-Horst made all sorts of items from clock and watch parts.

kelli horst clock workBruce Rosenwasser was there; he has a thing for hearts. In fact, last year he sold some 600 hand-carved wooden hearts. He told me how one year he made all these wooden Christmas ornaments in various shapes, and some ladies sifted through the entire inventory and bought all the heart-shaped ones. Now he can’t seem to make enough of them. But he also creates frames, earrings, wall hangings, even portaits, all from locally reclaimed scrap wood.

I really enjoyed Pam Ulmer’s photos — so bright and crisp, some of nature or serene locations, some of interesting historic landmarks, statues, old buildings. Lynda Bostrom’s large display featured drawings, paintings, and graphic designs in subtle colors. Brandy picked up a couple from her:
Lynda Bostrom

works by lynda bostromLast but not least was Denise Allen and her table of drawings and watercolor paintings, hand-made coloring books with a free hand-made, star-shaped crayon (!), and even seed packets, all in brown paper packaging, signifying favorite things. You know what one of my favorite things is? Pretty much anything made by Denise. And Denise herself.

denise allen crayonsHere’s to more beautiful sunny days with beautiful sunny people! Happy spring!

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.

who’s in your cup? art lotto 2013.

Hard to believe it’s time to get lucky again. Has it really been eight months since dozens of couples put their (art) tools together in the spirit of creation?

Yep. Art Lotto!! Put simply, this brain child of Brandy Somers and Denise Allen is an art show comprised of portraits of artists by artists. More specifically, artists randomly select other artists by way of a lotto system, resulting in a cosmic explosion of incredible talent and vision that will completely knock your socks off.

art lotto ballsbwwebLast year, Brandy and Denise used an old-timey lotto cage for the drawing. At this year’s Luck of the Draw event (on March 20 at The Blue Nile), participants selected their subjects by choosing a cup that concealed a ball. Written on the ball was another artist’s name. The cups were all hand drawn — I repeat, hand drawn — by Denise… beautiful, detailed drawings of birds and bees, bears and fish, hot air balloons and airplanes, an octopus, a cat, a peacock feather, and 46 more! That’s a total of 55 artists, compared to last year’s 43.

art lotto cups denise with cupsA bar full of artists is quieter than you might expect, each one carefully choosing a cup and shyly making eye contact with their selected artist. And I guess it’s not so strange… I mean, when you have to produce a piece of work depicting another artist, you might feel a new type of pressure. But really, the event is about bringing together artists who might not usually collaborate to share their ideas, their insights, and their lives with each other. After all the artists had made their selections, Brandy reminded them of important guidelines and deadlines and encouraged everyone to put something in the comment box “for nice words or questions,” lol. Then everyone seemed settle down and mingle, trading contact information and reminiscing about last year’s Art Lotto. Last year the finished products were ridickers good, and with even more people participating this year (and some interesting new media, too!), I really can’t wait to see the walls of The Dodger filled with all those beautiful faces again.
art lotto rhoda miller

green jacket art lotto jay herr art lotto jess herr art lotto misti grimes yoder Here’s the lowdown; mark your calendars:
• July 17 — each artist must finish his or her portrait AND submit a photograph of it to  Brandy for inclusion in the Art Lotto Yearbooklet.
•  By the end of July, judges will select winners in various categories.
•  August 1 — private opening for artists, judges, and sponsors
•  August 2 — First Friday in Harrisonburg and public opening at The Artful Dodger

art lotto namesbrandy and deniseFor more information and updates, please visit the Art Lotto website and Facebook page frequently. Then join the rest of Harrisonburg in celebrating home grown art on August 2!

*Most of these photos were taken by Rachel Herr, as Brandy was busy hosting :) thanks, Rachel!

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.

major artery: larkin arts.

larkin arts ellaRemember when Studio Art Shop was downtown? This was way back when Dave’s Taverna was on Water Street and Main, and Jokers (now the Blue Nile) was the hot spot for local music. Studio Art Shop was located where Oasis Gallery is now… I remember that art store fondly… the smell of paint and canvas, rows of colorful bottles, rainbows of oil pastels, stacks of naked sketch books, jars of never-used brushes with smooth wooden handles, neat paper bags of rabbit skin glue, Gesso, tubs of Gojo. Simply walking in there would inspire even the least artistic of us (like me) to create.

Needing more space, Studio Art Shop expanded to a larger store on Neff Avenue and became the place for art students to purchase supplies each semester. Lamentably, Studio Art Shop closed its doors for good a few years ago.

No doubt Valerie Smith remembers Studio Art Shop, too, and thanks to her, her hubby Scott, Lynda Bostrom, and many other local art supporters, Harrisonburg once again has a full-service art supply store on the Court Square… an apt location in the heart of a city that loves and values art of all kinds.

larkin arts val and scottBut Larkin Arts is not just a source of supplies; it’s also a gallery, a school, and a studio–a place for learning, creating, and displaying art. The store itself carries thousands of products for the new, developing, or veteran artist, and a cozy lounge area where one can sit and sketch or peruse hundreds of art books from their library, all the while listening to albums on the old-school stereo system, from Loggins and Messina to Talking Heads to Fugazi, the Beatles, or even “Latin for Lovers.” :) And, even if you’re not an “artist,” many of their items make lovely, unique gifts for people of all ages and for any occasion, really.

larkin arts1In the space adjacent to the store is the gallery and reception area. Two large, open, bright spaces regularly feature curated, juried, or group exhibitions.

larkin arts denise larkin arts food larkin arts reception2Down the hall to the right are three (three!) classrooms hosting a variety of classes. Every Monday from 6:30 to 8:30pm the public is welcome to attend live figure drawing. Children ages 4 – 12 can attend classes in drawing, painting, sculpture, ceramics, weaving, and art history. What a great way to spend dark, chilly afternoons, and when the weather is warm and school’s out, kids can attend week-long art classes — even one taught by our own Brandy Somers! — during the 2013 Youth Summer Art Program.

The left side of the hallway houses local artists’ studios. Large, bright, open rooms with closets and plenty of space to haul out your supplies and make a big ole mess.

In the last couple of months, Brandy and I have visited Larkin Arts a number of times. Back in December, we did some Christmas shopping there. More recently, we’ve gone to visit the gallery. Nathan Shearer’s simply framed photographs of LEGOs blew me away. One, I love LEGOs — I even have a LEGO room in my house. Two, the scenes he depicts in the photos are both realistic and imaginative. Three, his attention to detail, posing little LEGO figures in front of less playful backgrounds, getting the scale just right so that the photo is as believable as a portrait. And four, the colors! I wish I could have bought every one of them and hung them all together on a single wall in my house. You couldn’t be unhappy in that space. To see more of Nathan’s photos, please check out Katie Schmidt’s photos, here.

larkin arts nathan s nathan shearer bwThe other exhibit we attended was that of Jade Webber, an artist currently studying at JMU after completing a degree in Fine Art at New Mexico State University. Her large, heavily textured paintings depict the natural world, which is, as she describes it, a blend of “the metaphysical, the supernatural, and the ineffable.” Her work particularly reflects a love of animals, who “remind us that we, too, are animals. We are subject to forces beyond our control.” In this way she underscores how natural art is to the human experience: it springs organically from the artist herself; tools of wood and hair and metal push around hues of the outside world we see every day, resulting in a connection between artist and viewer that is not forced, but… ineffably genuine. You can see Jade’s work at Larkin Arts through the end of February.

jade webber notes jade webber 7 jade webber 5 jade webber 1The kids were with us, of course, and what would an ilovemyburg post be without the antics of children? Let’s see. Bree dropped her cupcake on the floor, icing side down (major tragedy). A couple of the Judy Chops were there to perform (because, let’s face it — all of ’em would have caused a sonic boom-ish catastrophe knocking the artwork right off the walls), and so lots of giggly, dizzying dancing ensued. Scott whipped out some brown Model Magic for the kids to “play with.”

larkin arts cupcake larkin arts blake ella judy chops 3 larkin arts brownAnd Cal left a note on Brandy’s car that said, “Your butt looks really good.” She laughed and acted like it was silly, but I bet she taped that thing to her bathroom mirror. Ha ha!! After she previewed this post, she clarified that it is NOT on her bathroom mirror. It’s on her fridge. :)

Congratulations to Valerie and Scott for opening this Harrisonburg gem. We hope you will visit soon and see why it’s so, so special. It’s yet another reason we love our burg.

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.

you wish! : christmas shopping in the burg.

In hindsight we’re not sure if it was a good idea to take four kids downtown last Saturday morning to show us what they want for Christmas.

Them: “You mean we’re not actually buying anything today??”
Us: “No.”
Them: “For real?”
Us: “Yes.”
Them: “Wait, you mean ‘yes, for real’ or ‘yes, we’re buying you something?'” (hopeful expressions)
Us: “We’re not buying anything today.”
Them: “For real?”
Us: “Ugh.”

But, we did take them window shopping. And now we’re going to tell you about it and show you what the kids picked out!! We met at Earth & Tea Cafe at 10ish to get some caffeine in our veins and map out a game plan. Man, that place is so niiiiiiice. The pretty tapestries on the wall… the cute lanterns everywhere… that little “lovers’ lair” in the corner–you know, the big square cushion with a curtain all the way around it? Rowl!

earth&teacup earth&teaWhile the kids argued over where to go first, we gals started yammering about our hair… See, Danielle recently cut her bangs, Brandy’s are growing out, and I have a head full of bangs. Then Danielle showed us how she can’t stop shaking her head because she likes the way her bangs swish-swish against her forehead. She’s a bobble head. On the way to a brain injury.

We finally got our list together and headed to our first destination, the Explore More Children’s Museum, which is just down from Earth & Tea. Not only can you buy someone a year’s membership to the museum for $95, but they have a really great gift shop in the front with rare toys you don’t see at larger chain stores. Here are a few:

explore more 4 explore more 3 explore more 2 explore more 1Next, a quick stop at Ten Thousand Villages. Personally, I wanted everything in there. Cal’s favorite was the giant stack of rugs. Blake’s favorite was this instrument:

ten thousand villagesOf course, everyone was excited to get to Dragonflies Toys. They’re by the parking deck, next to Downtown Books. Pretty much all the kids want all the toys in there. In fact, we should just see about moving in. Here are their Dragonflies wishes:

It's a cell phone eraser (ha ha) and a pencil that smells like cinnamon.

It’s a cell phone eraser (ha ha) and a pencil that smells like cinnamon.

for building thangs.

for building thangs.

dragonflies 3

she’s a family gal.

dragonflies 2

To Cal, from Bree!

To Cal, from Bree!

Danielle saw something she wishes for at Shenandoah Bicycle Company:

note the bangs :)

note the bangs :)

As we walked to Larkin Arts, we couldn’t help but go into James McHone Jewelry. The kids were a little antsy in there, so we couldn’t stay long, but he’s really got a spectacular selection of unique pins and brooches, pendant, bracelet charms, and much more. Danielle and I perused all his beautiful antique jewelry, pausing briefly at a shiny case of rings… and dreaming briefly about fairytale weddings… Well, maybe it was just me. Okay, this is getting awkward.

ornaments for humans.

ornaments for humans.

Onto Larkin Arts. If you haven’t been in there, you have to go. There’s so much to see. I love the way art supplies look on the shelf. Rows and rows of paints. Boxes and boxes of oil pastels. Neatly stacked fresh, white canvases. Then down the hall is a gallery space, and further down is a classroom and several artist studios. Anyway, the kids found lots of cool gift ideas there…

larkin arts 3 larkin arts 2 larkin arts 1… and I found one of my favorite things EVER: wooden boxes! Specifically, cigar boxes. And only $5 each! I don’t know why I have such an affinity for wooden boxes, but I bought four of them without any use in mind at all.

larkin arts 4Our final stop of the day (and believe me, there were many other places we could have gone, but SOMEONE was getting cranky) (okay, it was me) was the always fun, always quirky Glen’s Fair Price Store. You can get your camera repaired there, or you can get a Halloween costume, or you can buy vintage candy or any kind of hat you can imagine or even a bag of rubber worms. They have everything. You can’t come out empty handed.

glens fair price 3

If you see her walking around with this thing, don’t touch it. It shocks your hand! Sorry we terrorized the other customers with it.

glens fair price 4

I mean, nothing beats the snake scepter.

how nice of them to offer a snack and drink!

how nice of them to offer a snack and drink!

well, this is embarrASSing.

well, this is embarrASSing.

And then we were tired and hungry. So we strolled on down to Jess’ Quick Lunch to stuff ourselves with chili dogs. With just ten shopping days left until Christmas, we hope this gives you some gift ideas for the people you love. And you give to everyone when you shop local. See you out and about!

jess quick lunchho ho hatsCopyright © 2012 · 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.

music lessons: chris howdyshell and superfriends and their ground-breaking rock-n-rollishness at clementine cafe.

It was an educational evening, indeed.

Of course, it started stupid enough–the two of us yakking it up at the bar, gossiping and such about things I can’t memorialize on the Interwebs–sorry. I can say that at one point the chatter veered back to our visit to Wine on Water and how we look forward to cooler weather and going back there for some PORT. In fact, Brandy declared, “I want to drink port in a scarf,” and I (here comes a stupid part) imagined her fashioning some kind of fabric drinking vessel. How cultural, I mused, wondering if perhaps in some exotic country, people drink wine this way.

Then I got it.

We were soon rescued from our idiocy. That night Clementine served up something mind expanding for sure, something called Chris Howdyshell and SuperFriends and Their Ground-Breaking Rock-N-Rollishness.

The first of the SuperFriends was Ellen Atwood. And even though she’s young–just a junior in high school–I think I will dub her Queen of the SuperFriends. One, it was her first public solo gig, ever. Two, she’s a one-woman show, just her keyboard and her voice. Three, her voice is… angelic. She was goosebumps-on-your-face good. She played and sang “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “Don’t Let It Break Your Heart” (Coldplay), and one of her originals. And four, she’s just a kid yet. And being a teacher and a general fan of teenagers, I love to see a kid who’s been able to cultivate her passion and talent in spite of all her school responsibilities and pressures and just the agony and emotional clumsiness that pervades adolescence, and still have the guts to share it with a room of (mostly) strangers. Yet there she was, shining in the hot white light. And after three short songs, I was quite moved. So thank you for that, Ellen.

Then the rest of the SuperFriends took the stage. It wasn’t quite the Dish Dogs because Michael Bowman and Lara Mack weren’t there… but it also wasn’t the new band, Dr. How (whom you can see here at Clementine on September 22)–it was… just… the SuperFriends. Namely, Chris Howdyshell, Mike Howdyshell, Ashley Hunter, Josh Vana, Doug Pitts, and Kyle Oehmke once his shift in the kitchen ended and he could join them. Untie the apron, strap on the bass. Chris had on his bedazzled hat and every person in the band wore glasses. Not, like, sunglasses, but actual “I need these to see” glasses. I could make some kind of “gettin’ old” joke, but really it was endearing because we’re all just humans with flaws doing the best we can. As Ram Dass said, “We’re all just walking each other home,” even if we can’t see where the hell we’re going.

They played a couple of old Dish Dog favorites, and things really picked up after “Tom Weights.” It seems like a hundred more people came in during “It’s Not Your Fault.” Drew, Harrisonburg’s resident hugger, danced in front of the stage (we love Drew!); more people joined the dancing during “Bird” and “She’s An Artist” and “The Tuning Song”–ha ha. And Chris took a moment to say he had two things to ask of us:
1) “You’re here.” (check!) and
2) “Don’t be afraid to dance. Ladies and gentlemen, please put your feet on the floor!”

In walked several  young men in suits, to whom he commanded, “Men In Suits–DANCE!” Which they did. Then he came down and danced with Alice, and Ashley came down and danced, and Grayson and Annie danced, and other folks I don’t know… and I remembered a New Year’s Eve Dish Dogs performance… there was this couple dancing. They’d obviously been together a long time. She danced with her eyes closed, and I thought that was the most romantic thing I’d ever seen–how they knew each other so well…

Nothing like that happened at this show, but it sure was fun!!

And educational. Remember when I said that earlier? Because between numbers, Chris would tell us interesting facts and use impressive vocabulary. Like “evolutionarily.” EV-UH-LOO-SHUN-AIR-UH-LEE. Something about woodpeckers and black flies and how, evolutionarily, they strayed from the norm and neither fared well. His lesson: “Do what you always do or you’ll die, at least in woodpecker world.” I also learned that Lance Armstrong ate oatmeal “filled with oxygen.” And most importantly, “Every time you eat bacon, you’re only losing a year of your life you didn’t care about in the first place.” Plus you get to eat bacon.

And he closed with this thought: “I really want a dog, but I don’t want to clean up the poop.” Amen to that.

The evening wound down with a smattering of other songs, including “Whiskey’s More Warm Than A Girl” and one about forgetting things (I don’t remember the title–seriously) during which Josh Vana played slide with a piece of broken glass. You gotta do what you gotta do, MacGyver.

So Dr. How debuts at Clementine on September 22 and will feature at least some of the SuperFriends. And I hope you’ll all attend.
Because you will learn stuff.
And you will dance.

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

thanks a brunch: taste of downtown at clementine.

It occurred to me as I parked the car and dashed through the rain with my kids that we’ve had a pretty rainy spring and summer. And I have proof of it right here in these pages. It rained when we covered Bongo Restaurant, it rained A LOT at the Rocktown Beer and Music Festival, and it absolutely poured at First Friday in June at the Yellow Button. It rained at Fridays on the Square with the Judy Chops, and when we visited Cat’s Cradle, and for Blake’s LEGO Art in the Park. The rain just barely held off for the Brew-B-Que and for Art Lotto, but the Caleb Stine show was rainy, and so was our latest adventure. As a teacher, I can only hope this moisture continues and translates into feet of snow this winter. !

We decided to go to Clementine Cafe last Sunday because Taste of Downtown was coming to an end and their brunch deal looked really good: one of three brunch dishes plus a carafe of Bloody Mary or Mimosa for $12. The choices were two eggs cooked to order, a frittata, or a burrito, each with side items. We couldn’t choose, as usual, so we got one frittata–it has avocado–and one burrito–it has spicy yumminess. Plus one of each carafe. And the kids split an order of pancakes. It was all delicious–fresh and cooked perfectly and just the right amount.

We gobbled it down quickly and finished up what the kids left behind. They’d brought along a veritable arts and crafts station, what with scissors, paper, tape, markers–and they worked happily for quite some time, but then they got  antsy, and Brandy and I still had lots of chit-chatting to do, so she sent them on a scavenger hunt!

Some of the items they had to find and draw a picture of were
* something blue (a painting called “Jupiter Storms”)
* something green (a skull and crossbones)
* something related to children (some sort of winged, cherub-like angel thing)
* something small (we can’t remember that one, or make out the drawing)
* something related to food but not edible (a blender)
* the names of two people who work there (for this, Bree wrote down “Sit on it!” Ouch!)
* their favorite piece of art (the drawing looks like a fish with giant teeth, but I can’t guarantee that).

That kept them busy and also gave them a chance to explore the place, including the upstairs bathroom. Have you seen it? With its luxurious velvety chair and that sleek sink? That was Bree’s favorite thing in the whole joint. That and the disco ball.

But there’s more about Clementine that we love:
1. The avocado-bacon burger, which is usually what I order when I’m there. It’s the best I’ve ever had, hands down.
2. The portions. They give you just enough food, so that you don’t have to wrap it up or waste it. And then you can enjoy dessert without being “full up to the collarbone.”
3. They use the local-est ingredients they can, and if that means rotating seasonal items in and out of the menu, that’s what they do. Fresh and local are priorities.
4. Music. Between the two of us, Brandy and I have seen zillions of great shows there, from Yarn and Larry Keel and Steel Wheels to Caleb Stine and Andy Friedman and Invisible Hand, and two of my favorite bands I saw first at Clementine: Lake Street Dive and Kopecky Family Band.
5. While we’re on that topic, Brandy appreciates the restaurant’s use of color: the brightly painted stage backdrop unlike no other, and even the use of complimentary colors outside (yellow and purple). Brandy uses a photo of the storefront when she teaches that concept in her art classes.

6. And let’s not forget Ruby’s Lounge downstairs and their awesome specialty nights. Tuesday through Thursday you can find $2 and $3 specials!
7. The beautiful new patio!
8. We also like how they advertise tons of local events and happenings in the lobby. Clearly, they love their burg, too. :)

We finished our carafes and gossip and waited out the rain as long as we could, but it just didn’t seem to stop that day. You can join them for brunch on Sundays from 10 – 3pm. If you don’t want to wait that long, you can come tonight at 9–Chris Howdyshell will be making a bunch of noise with a mess of people… Or Blue Rock on Saturday night… should be pretty fun. See you out and about!

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

county lines: caleb stine and the honey dewdrops at plan b.

We’d last seen Caleb Stine at Clementine with Andy Friedman. He was promoting his intimately straightforward album I Wasn’t Built for a Life Like This. So when we heard he was headed this way again, we made a point to attend–this time at Plan B in Broadway. Okay, so it’s not actually in Harrisonburg, but Plan B is a local business that serves local food and coffee and promotes lots of local music and art. In fact, we covered them once before, when No Strings Attached performed there, remember? Anyway, Plan B has this genius tactic when it comes to booking musicians. They watch for bands that will be passing through this area, traveling from one gig to the next, and they ask them if they’d like to make a stopover in Broadway. They’ve gotten some really great acts with this method, so be sure to keep your eye on the Plan B calendar. Who woulda thought, in little ole Broadway?

As a bonus, Caleb Stine is currently accompanying the Honey Dewdrops on their tour (the new album is called Silver Lining and it’s excellent), so we got to hear some of Caleb’s stuff, some of the Dewdrops’ stuff, and some stuff they’ve collaborated on. The Honey Dewdrops are a folk duo from Charlottesville-ish who’ve released three albums. They’re no strangers to Plan B, having played there a year ago at the grand opening. A variety of stringed instruments (banjo, guitar, mandolin) and their perfectly harmonized voices define their Americana/Appalachia style, but their lyrics reflect the joy and despair of modern life. They somehow manage to sing songs that are both happy and sad at the same time–conveying the beautiful tension of love and life itself. Caleb Stine does the same thing, so it’s no wonder they complement each other.

It was rainy and stormy that night, and I worried the weather might keep people from coming out. My kids and I met Brandy at Plan B at about 7. Caleb and Brandy have a mutual friend in Maryland, so he came right over to catch up with her. Bree and Cal love Caleb’s music, and my daughter wasted no time asking him to please play her favorite song, “Riverside.” With extra hoots, yee hee hees, and haw haws. And can you play it first?

People trickled in, shook out their umbrellas, ordered drinks and took their seats. Employees handed out free popcorn popped in one of those big, old-fashioned movie popcorn machines. The musicians’ suitcases sat on a table modestly displaying their goods for sale.

We settled in at a table in front of the stage and the musicians took to the stage. There was Laura, looking really pretty in a periwinkle dress and cute sandals, and her husband in jeans, a button-down shirt, and endearing bare feet… and Caleb, in a muscle shirt, camo shorts, and Crocs.

Sure enough, he started with “Riverside,” and both kids were mesmerized. I think it took Cal a few seconds to realize we weren’t listening to the iPod. Then his mouth opened and he started to clap… realized he was in a room full of people and started laughing… called Caleb Stine “silly” and then sorta mouthed the rest of the song to himself. When it was over, he tottered off to the toy area. Bree, enthralled, sat with us for several more songs. That’s my girl.

Their next song was Stine’s “No Harm in Being Crazy” from his latest album, in which he lists lots of “crazy” things… dialing 911 “just to talk to someone,” and looking at photos of a previous life, and answering “fine” when someone asks how you’re doing. I guess we’re all a little crazy.

Next they sang several songs from the Honey Dewdrops’ new album and songs they wrote together. One is called “I’m Falling in Love With You,” and I furiously scribbled its breathtaking words: “I’ll keep spinning that mix that you made for my car and that way we’ll be singing together” and “Our love is a newborn, wobbly-legged child–let’s watch as it trots through the heather. You’re a kind-hearted lover and such a good friend and I’m falling in love with you.” <swoon>

At this point, Cal got thirsty from all that popcorn, so he climbed up on a stool at the bar and ordered a water. On the rocks. And back to the toys he went.

After a few more songs, they played “My Service Isn’t Needed Anymore,” another one of those clever, bittersweet, funny/tragic songs at which you don’t know whether to laugh or cry. About how life can turn on a dime… one minute you’re mopping the floor of the grocery store where you work until “something went missin’ from the register drawer, and my service wasn’t needed anymore.” Or you’re enjoying the exhilaration of new love until “something ’bout the way that she closed the door said my service wasn’t needed anymore.” All that time invested for no return, really.

One of my favorite numbers of the evening was called “Together Tied,” one of those happy/sad songs I’ve been talking about that seemed to saturate the experience. The title sounds sweet and happy enough, but lines like “home is just a place you can never get back to” remind us that we don’t appreciate the time we have together until we’re not together, and so when we remember home, we aren’t just recalling things that happened there… we’re remembering what we miss about home and about that period of life. As they put it, “home is in the leavin’, the last words around the table.” The same goes for the song “Happiness,” which, as it turns out, “has got nothing to do with happiness.” I was also touched by the next number, “It’s Hard to Pray,” because Laura’s 87-year-old grandfather (“granddaddy”) memorized it and sang along when she and Kagey visited him recently. It’s a song about faith, about believing and praying even when your prayers aren’t answered.

Then I heard some shouting in the back and realized it was MY KIDS. Oh dear. So at the end of the song, I had to scoot back there and do some shushing and whispered scolding. I told my son, “Honey, you’re not at home.” And I think he, in that moment, realized he was in a public place. “Oh,” he said. “Woops.” It wasn’t too much longer before we left. It was half past eight, the kids are usually in bed by then, and we still had to drive thirty minutes to get home. But we stayed til the end of the first set, and I’m glad, because I got to hear my favorite, “The Eternal Present.” Stine called it his “State of the Union for Yourself” song. It’s another paradoxical song, where he explores the peace of living in the present moment, but also, the loneliness of never putting down roots. You can’t have both, I guess. Still, at the end of the song, he reminds us that “every atom is connected and no one stands alone.” And that certainly helps.

I didn’t get to stay for the second set, but Caleb, Laura, and Kagey had said that it was a special set–cover songs. An entire album. We were intrigued. Who would it be? Led Zeppelin? Bob Dylan? Bob Marley? It turned out to be… The Beatles. I wish I’d seen it. And the crowd perked up, too, as the night wore on. Looks like a lot of hee-hawing and dancing ensued:

The Honey Dewdrops will return to Plan B on September 1st for the cafe’s one-year anniversary, so put on your Crocs and camo shorts and git yer hineys up to Broadway that evening. Plan B is located at 202 N. Main Street, Broadway. Visit soon!

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

face value: art lotto 2012.

I’ve known Brandy Somers a long time, and I know that when she decides to do something, she does it. She doesn’t make promises she can’t keep, and she doesn’t like the feeling of letting anyone down, including herself. I admire her so much for that. So when she hatched this Art Lotto idea, I knew it would be a huge endeavor. I knew it would take countless hours of planning, hard work, late nights, pots of coffee. And, I knew she’d do it. I wasn’t sure how… but then along came Denise Allen. Could you possibly ever ask for a nicer, more pleasant, more positive person to work with? No. Even when it looks like nothing’s going to work out, Denise smiles and laughs and makes it fun again.

So the two of them teamed up, and over the course of ten months (ten months!!), they solicited artists, secured sponsors and donors, made a commercial with the help of Lurid Pictures, collected and catalogued the work, created a yearbooklet with color photos and artist bios, hung the work at their host location, The Artful Dodger, and threw a big party. And I’m sure I left something out of that list. I got the fun task of watching and judging and writing about an art show featuring forty-three (forty-three!!) local artists who created portraits of each other. So, this is my chronicle of a three-day odyssey into the local art scene. Here goes.

DAY ONE: Wednesday, August 1st. Judging.

I made my way to the Dodger at about 12:30 Wednesday to serve as a judge for Art Lotto. Ballot and freshly sharpened pencil in hand, glasses on, I browsed the forty-three portraits hanging starkly on the wall. The simple and well-organized ballot employed a numerical scoring system… easy enough. But as I stood there gazing at those portraits, I felt a paralysis come over me.  I heard other customers, who were also visibly impressed by the display, make comments like, “This is unbelievable.” “I can’t believe how great these are.” “What an amazing idea–who came up with this?” and “So powerful–all these faces…”

Moved by Teale Davies’ portrait of Lynda Bostrom, one young man even said he felt inspired to finish his own piece he’s been struggling with.

I tried so hard not to be, but I was moved to slight, restrained tears. There’s something about seeing all those faces together, a silent crowd, the solidarity of all of them–captured and hanging on a wall… stuck together. I hope we’re all stuck together for a very long time.

Of course the collective talent is also overwhelming. Each piece a testament to natural-born skills and years of practice, refinement, frustration, and dedication. But for me it’s how each artist “saw” the other. Because we never see ourselves the way others do. And this might be the first time one of these people looked at himself or herself with tenderness. It’s the wish we all have for our fellow souls–that they might see their own beauty the way others do.

So I regained my composure and started to put my feelings into single digits that fit into tiny boxes. Alas, it had to be done. Thank goodness for math. It decides things for us when we’re too warm and fuzzy to do it ourselves.

DAY TWO: Thursday, August 2nd. Artist/Sponsor/Judge Party!

Finally, after months and months of work and planning and outright panic + nightmares, the evening Brandy and Denise envisioned had arrived. Brandy was a little nervous beforehand that people wouldn’t show up. Puh-lease! Not only had she and Denise planned an event that no one would want to miss, but also, what better way to get a bunch of artists to show up to something than to promise them their own face would be on display? Hee hee :)

Writers can be vain, too. <sigh>

The opening, hosted once again by the Artful Dodger, was quite lively. Nearly all the artists, judges, and sponsors were there, plus their dates, so the crowd easily exceeded a hundred people. All the artists were super-excited to see how the portraits of themselves turned out and to see how their own work was received. To the sounds of DJ Fayo, people mingled and chatted about their experiences and processes, nibbled on light snacks, sipped beverages, laughed and cast their votes for best portrait for an hour or so. Then Brandy and Denise began their presentation, starting with a list of excuses some of the participants gave her for being late with their work:

Ahem, “My work is late because…
“the economy is bad.”
“it took me several days to remember how to paint again.”
“I have caveman Internet.”
“my piece exploded.”
“my cat seriously won’t leave it alone.”
“… of sparklies.” ???

Then they moved on to Art Lotto Superlatives, like Best Hair, Oh Snap!, Smallest Piece (I was glad, because the smallest piece always goes unnoticed), and Herr-ay!, which you automatically got if you were a Herr. Seems like that one’s rigged, but maybe that’s just me.

Next came the awards. These came from judges’ scores, kid judges’ scores, and votes from the artists themselves. This year’s judges include Suzi Carter, Kai Degner, Martin Rees, Vada Kelly, moi, Sherrie Hurt Gordon, Blake Somers, Paul Somers, Ragan McManus, Aaron Ludwig, Valerie Smith, Abigail Kate Garber, and Andy Conner. Pictured below are the award-winning portraits:

Portrait of Anne E. Hogan by Ben Fraits
Winner: Out of Box-ness
______________________________

Portrait of Ben Fraits by Rhoda Miller
Winner: Seeing Double
_________________________________

Portrait of Teale Davies by Denise Allen
Winner: You Got Skillz (tie)
________________________________

Portrait of Cora Cloud by Bruce Rosenwasser
Winner: Show Stopper
________________________________

Portrait of Raechel Hurd by Chris Whitmore
Winner: You Got Skillz (tie)
Winner: Artists’ Choice Award
_____________________________

Portrait of Denise Allen by Lynda Bostrom
Winner: Kids’ Choice Award, female
Winner: Best MediYUM
______________________________

Portrait of Brandy Somers by Luke Watson
Winner: Kids’ Choice Award, male
*Note: this is not the finished product. Updated photo forthcoming.

Check back this week for more photos of additional portraits!!

DAY THREE: Friday, August 3rd. Public Opening!!

In the blink of an eye, Thursday’s party was over and done and First Friday was at bat. I’d had a frenzied day by the time the kids and I got back to the Dodger, but I was nowhere near as pooped as Denise and Brandy. I don’t think those two girls had yet sighed a single molecule of relief or satisfaction. To make matters slightly worse, it looked like it was going to rain any second, and they’d gone to great lengths to set up some kids’ activities on the patio. Still, they pressed on, the rain passed, and the people came in droves.

The event welcomed folks of all ages. Kids could draw with sidewalk chalk, blow bubbles, get their faces painted, or join the coloring contest. Brandy and Denise had made special coloring pages of the Art Lotto sponsors and donors–like one of Miranda Lancaster from The Yellow Button, and one of Chris Clark, and one of Brent Levy and Amanda Garber from Rise. But, sorry–and this is not a comment about Amanda’s appearance, we all know she’s gorgeous–on the coloring page, she looked like Moe Doodle. Just sayin’. <cringe>

Inside, scores of curious pedestrians viewed the portraits, commenting on how different they are from each other, how cool all the portraits look hanging together, and the ridiculous amount of talent in that modest space. My daughter strolled through with her notebook (hello, mini-me), taking notes about her favorite portraits. When we got home that night, she said “Mom, I loved that. I felt like a grownup.” My son said, “I feel like I was at college!” (He’s 5.) I asked him what he meant, and he said, “I just feel a whole lot smarter.” Many of the artists were on hand, too, and the public seemed to enjoy seeing the work of forty-three artists–not just one–in one place. Several of the pieces have sold. If you haven’t been in yet to see these works, go now. The portraits will be up for the month of August, but it’s not something you want to put off. Trust me.

One last note: I would like to personally apologize to anyone who got swindled by pirates at the door. Blake decided to be the “door man” for “tips,” and then Bree and Cal crashed his gig. And with their faces painted like pirates, the three of them hung off the railing and “demanded” money (well, Cal was the one who demanded) from anyone entering or exiting, like some kind of Clockwork Orange-esque gang.

They didn’t get much loot. And I promise, if you ever meet my son in a dark alley, just threaten to tickle him and he’ll back off.

Brandy and Denise have created something fantastic that I hope will become a Harrisonburg tradition. They worked extremely hard, but if you ask them, they will tell you they could not have done it without the support of local businesses and patrons. So, Art Lotto would like to extend special thanks to these Sponsors and Donors for providing food, prizes, and yearbooklets, and for being consistent community supporters:

The Artful DodgerMintThe Yellow ButtonDietrich DentalJames McHone Antique JewelryEstland DesignVBS MortgageTiller Strings, Rocktown RollersLurid PicturesFamily Talk MagazineRiseHappy Dogs Unleashed, B & L Glass and Mirror, Midtowne MarketWonderMajomi BagsLarkin ArtsArts Council of the Valley, Court Square Coffee, DJ FayoDoodle Du JourWonder RecordsLast Light PhotographyMetamurphosis Design and PhotographyHerr JewelsThe Lady JaneCampbell Copy CenterPolished, Inc.Brandy Somers PhotographySuperGr8, and Wine on Water.

See ya next year!!

**NOTE: Some photos by Danielle Campbell, Rachel Herr, and the artists themselves.

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

 

gettin’ lucky in the burg no. 9: art lotto 2012

You gotta admit it–Harrisonburg is a great town for art. A hub, if you will. A hotbed. Perhaps even a mecca. And on the lucky evening of the thirteenth of March, forty-three local artists journeyed to the Blue Nile to uncover their collective destiny… controlled completely by an old Elks Lodge bingo cage.

photo by Sarah Murphy

Unfortunately, I didn’t attend on the 13th, but Brandy and I recently went back to the Nile to relive “Luck of the Draw” night for Harrisonburg’s first annual Art Lotto. It just so happens that one of the participating artists–Lynda Bostrom–was tending bar, so between Brandy and her, I think I got a pretty accurate picture of the evening. But before that, a bit of history.

It was summer of 2011. Brandy and her friend (another local artist) Denise Kanter Allen met at El Sol for dinner and to discuss their upcoming joint art show. Inspired by her own collaboration with Denise, Brandy came up with the idea of bringing that collaboration to a larger scale. Brandy likened her idea to Harrisonburg’s long-established Rock Lotto, in which bands are formed in a random drawing. Art Lotto is similar in that each artist randomly selects another artist whose portrait he or she must then create. Denise loved the idea and couldn’t wait to help make it a reality.

*Speaking of collaboration, and I’m not really sure where to insert this tidbit, but Lynda Bostrom and Denise currently have a joint show on display at the Nile. For the whole month of March. What a coininkydink!!

The ladies tried to name the event something other than “lotto” because they didn’t want to step on any toes. But “Art Lotto” just sounded right, so they asked permission from the Rock Lotto founder and, with his blessing, went for it. After three months of sign-ups and meetings, the March 1 deadline arrived, and Brandy and Denise prepared for “Luck of the Draw” night on March 13.

Denise and Brandy. Photo by Pat Jarrett.

Which brings us to the events of that evening. Let’s see… Brandy insists she was very nervous talking to a room full of artists, even though she speaks to large groups of teenagers every day. But Lynda says Brandy was “graceful and teacher-like,” what with her handouts, bulleted lists, and stern shushing. The method of selection was in keeping with the whole lucky/lotto/13 theme: each participant had to come to the bingo cage and crank the handle not once, not twice, but thrice, as the lotto balls quivered nervously against each other.
Then the artist chose a lotto ball, on which was written another artist’s name. Interestingly, only two artists actually selected each other. And there was some Rosenwasser/Rosenberger confusion. To add to that confusion is my probable misspelling of both names. Sorry!!

This went on for some time, and after 129 handle cranks, Brandy and Denise had their results:
The photo above shows who’s doing whom. (Now don’t go starting any rumors.) Brandy reminded the crowd that Art Lotto’s purpose is “to get people who live in the same town and coexist and do the same thing to collaborate.” And it’s also about branching out and meeting new artists. She continued, “If you get your roommate, or friend, or brother, you can do ’em, but come on, people… do you really wanna?” Hm.
She also gave a few guidelines on this handout:
and added, with enthusiastic gestures, “Unless your piece is long and skinny.” Hm.

Okay, now these artists are prolific people, and they need time to complete their portraits with care and craftsmanship. Stay tuned for details about their finished portraits, which will be displayed to the public on Friday, August 3, at The Artful Dodger.

Have fun gettin’ lucky! And remember, size matters.