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.

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.

paws and reflect: wonderkittens 2013!

Guess what’s happening Friday?? Yep, Wonderkittens! Harrisonburg’s first artist/child portrait show, created by my heroes, Brandy and Denise.

Soon you’ll get to see who was matched with whom and gaze upon a dozen or so pairs of portraits in a variety of… interesting… media. So join us at Larkin Arts, this Friday from 5 – 8. And oh yeah, Nick Melas is playing music :)

WONDERkittenwonderkitten flyer

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.

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.

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.

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.