thank you: eddie bumbaugh.

burgIMG_6608Some debts are simply too large to repay. Sometimes, “thank you” falls impossibly short. Sometimes, a person’s influence, impact, and value are too large to accurately measure.

By now you’ve likely heard the news: our beloved Eddie Bumbaugh, the 12-year Executive Director of the Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance, will retire from the position as 2015 draws to a close. However, and thankfully for all of us, from the sounds of it, he’s not retiring all the way. In hopes of getting all the juicy details, Brandy and I decided to take his wife, Jane, and him out for dinner recently.

Alas, even after a belly full of delicious Food Bar Food dinner and a cocktail, he wouldn’t expound specifically on his next step, stating only that he’ll “remain involved in the Harrisonburg community.” Brandy and I, happy to simply be breathing again, decided to be satisfied with this answer and just enjoy our evening with them.

burgIMG_6595 burgIMG_6598I did come prepared with a few additional questions. When I asked Eddie what he’ll miss the most about HDR, he replied immediately with “the staff.” He delivered several heart-warming compliments about his co-workers (not his underlings or subordinates or minions, but his co-workers) and their commitment and passion and enthusiasm that have made reporting to work each day joyful. He also revealed a real fondness for the excitement of new ideas and the planning of events – indeed, his eyes twinkled a bit when he spoke of these things.

He counts the Alpine Loop Gran Fondo, a 100+ mile bicycle group ride, race, and festival that runs through and around the Burg, among his favorite Harrisonburg events because it allows him to experience our community through the eyes of people who aren’t from here. The race draws cyclists from all over the United States – many have never seen, Eddie says, “Old Order Mennonites or our beautiful skyline.” He likes the event because he likes to meet new people, and he likes anything that will encourage people to visit the Friendly City. Oh, and he likes to bicycle, too.

From there, most of our dinner conversation centered around travel and nature. You may or may not have known that Eddie is an avid cyclist and runner, a lot of which he does right here in the Shenandoah Valley because of its natural eye candy. He and Jane have hiked a hefty portion of the Appalachian Trail. The four of us had a lot of fun sharing hiking and road trip stories. Jane, too, is quite adventurous.

Jane took a trip to Iceland with a bunch of seventh-graders, prompting Brandy and me to shout things like, “What?!” “Are you crazy??” “Are you OKAY??” at her. They were there about a week, which seemed to me to be a very short amount of time to visit a foreign country, given all the travel time involved. But guess what? It’s only like a five-hour flight! Anyway, what an amazing experience for those youngsters!! Thank goodness for people like Jane! So brave and generous, even though she will tell you it’s not all that hard and anyone can do it. These two seem to be a match made in heaven with their incredible kindness, their willingness to try new and even risky ventures, and their ability to listen and compromise. Even in our relatively short conversation with the couple, Brandy and I could see those traits, shining clear as the candles on the table.

burgIMG_6624So now I’m finally getting to what I’ve wanted to do since I heard the news about Eddie’s impending departure: say Thank You.

Dear Eddie,
Harrisonburg and its citizens will never be able to repay you for the transformation that occurred under your leadership. I remember Harrisonburg twelve years ago, before you took the job. I remember seeing Dokken at a downtown establishment that was trying, really trying, to get on its feet. I remember when the Dodger, Joker’s, and The Little Grill were the only nightlife downtown, and no one walked to those places, at least not leisurely. I remember it felt like a lost cause. Thank you for ignoring all those who told you that the armpit of the city would never be the heart. They told you, “Don’t bother getting involved. We’ve tried it before. It’ll just be a waste of time, a disappointment.” Thank you for being the type of person to take those comments as a challenge. Thank you for also being the kind of person to listen, to contemplate and reflect, to consider the opinions and needs of others, and to bring everyone together with open communication and constructive conversations.

The evidence of your hard work shines for all to see now, twelve years later. Today when I go downtown, the streets are lit up. Delicious aromas waft out of dozens of restaurants. I can hear live music around every corner. There’s a good beer waiting for me about every five steps. And I am perfectly comfortable letting my kids wander around on their own – watching the ducks behind Clementine and SBC, walking to the library for new books, swinging into Bella Gelato for a treat, buying blueberries at the Farmers Market, and finding old Mom reading a book at Pale Fire when they’re all done with their adventure. :) Thank you for making my city safe for my children. If it weren’t, we would have left long ago.

I haven’t even touched upon the many events and activities we all enjoy now. Beer and music festivals, art markets, First Fridays, costume bike parades, Valley Fourth… too many to name. Not to mention the local retail options we now have, so we don’t have to shop at those “big stores.”

I don’t know what’s harder when taking a new job: inheriting a mess that you have to clean up, or inheriting something beautiful that you have to maintain and somehow improve upon. We know your successor cannot replace you, and we would not expect that. I imagine we’ll all expect more good things, because that’s what you’ve shown us. But we do not expect the accomplishment of “more good things” to happen in a vacuum. Those of us who live, work, and enjoy our downtown know that community growth happens through community involvement. We’ll stay involved, we’ll support local businesses, we’ll remember all that you’ve done to get us to this place, and we won’t let you down. We might not be able to pay you back, but we’ll pay it forward. We promise.

Cheers to you! Wishing you and Jane all the best, all the time! And don’t be a stranger.

Love, 
All of Us. The Whole Dang Town. 

burgIMG_6612Copyright © 2012-15 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

all in: UNjuried exhibition.

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

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

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

I marvel at this idea.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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.

come rain and come shine no. 25: first friday.


‘Twas the First Friday in June and all through the city
the stores and establishments were decorated all pretty
with artwork created by talented locals.
So I grabbed my umbrella and put on my bifocals.

The clouds rolling in at us taunted and frowned,
but they didn’t keep people from walking around.
I parked in the deck and briskly headed for one
of my favorite stores, The Yellow Button.

A rumble here, a sprinkle there would never prevent
us from hosting our first I Love My Burg/Brandy Somers Photography event.
Seeing all the photos finally printed was such a delight,
and really, for me, the best part of the night.

Brandy’s photos were hung by the stockings and dresses,
each one a testament to her camera successes.
My attention meandered for a sec, I admit…
when I saw this green frock and said, “I’ve GOT to have it.”

Sweet truffles from Zest! sat on a tray
next to iced tea, pretzel chips, and guacamol-ay.
And just as we’d hoped, just a bit after five,
the first of our customers began to arrive.

First was Sarah Murphy, who swept into the shop
carrying three naked baguettes–a strange photo op
for three modest girls in poses of debauchery…
then I ripped the bread in pieces: my kids were hungry!

Distracted by what sounded like a serious scuffle,
I had to diffuse my kids’ fight over a dropped truffle.
While Sarah and Brandy were fencing with bread,
in strolled Amy from Many Nights Ahead
with her friend Bailey, who’s a photographer, too.
I was thankful the fight scenes were finally through.

People came, people ate, people drank and got stickers.
They dressed up in outfits that were truly ridickers.
And then Brandy quickly took all of their pictures.

We saw Ellie from Zest! and Brent Levy from RISE,
with his playful wife Natalie in a crazy disguise.
Valeri managed to traverse the treacherous three feet
between Ten Thousand Villages and Miranda’s retreat…
She just really, really wanted something sweet.

Oh, and Seth Crissman–the knight in soggy armor
who retrieved wife Theresa from the front of Explore More.
He gallantly showed that chivalry exists,
sheltering from the rain his wife and two guests
and still dressing up silly with very few protests.

At seven p.m., the rain had not at all abated,
so the kids sat out back and silently waited
for me to dart through the flooded downtown
and get to the car, and drive it around
which I did, so we could see Elliott Downs.

We were wet, we were cold, and we were dog tired,
but, by golly, we were also truly inspired
by the number of dripping wet fans that we saw
Still walking through town to gaze in quiet awe,

Not caring that their wet jeans felt like wool,
or that their hair looked really uncool…
Seeing them participate no matter what
reminded us what a cool town we’ve got.

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.

har-har harrisonburg no. 24: no strings attached.

There’s something about improvisational comedians that appeals to us all. Maybe it’s that we’re impressed by how quick on the trigger they are. Maybe it’s that they are MacGyvers of comedy, creating humor out of some random words, a feather boa, a Q-tip, and a plunger. Still maybe it’s that they find themselves squirming in the most uncomfortable situations but manage to emerge without anything exploding. Or perhaps it’s that improv comedy is a reflection of life itself–the beautifully strange daily occurrences in all our lives.We are all improv comedians (or tragedians) in that way.

Still, it’s fun to go out and see people act ridiculous.

On a warm May evening, Brandy and I took her kids to see a performance by No Strings Attached, Harrisonburg’s own improv comedy troupe. The performance was at Plan B, a cute, little BIG coffee house in Broadway. I was glad to finally see that place. Spacious and comfortable, it houses a mix of modern and vintage mid-century furnishings, two bars, a toy area for kids (or whomever, really), and a cozy fireplace. They also display lots of local artwork–some for sale–and they use real plates, mugs, and silverware–nothing disposable. It just feels good in there.

No Strings Attached, starring (on this night) Rachel Jenner, Tony Lopez, James Oates, Steve McClay, Jeremiah Meadows, and Gbenga Adekunle, took the stage at about 7pm for a two-hour set and were introduced by an employee of the establishment who sat at the sound booth. Brandy had a weird Wizard of Oz moment as she looked around for the source of that voice. “…Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.” Except there were no flames or any giant, misshapen, green heads.

Rachel explained a few things to the spectators. First, all their material is unrehearsed and supplied by the audience. Second, they often ask for volunteers to assist on stage, and she insisted that “if we ask for volunteers, it’s to make us look stupid, not you.” Hm. I happen to believe in “stupid by association,” but okay.

Then the show started. And although I’ve seen them before, I’m familiar with what they do, and I was all equipped with my notebook and pen, I’ve never tried to take notes at one of their performances–and it was a nightmare. Everything happened and changed so fast, and nothing made sense for more than like a minute and by the time I wrote anything down, it had morphed into something else, plus I kept getting distracted by the performance itself, PLUS I was laughing my butt off at times… so my notes are but a random collection of… weirdness. Like, “Remember that dog that was licking on it?” And, “Why am I supporting his head? He’s dead.”

???

I remember that those two lines came from the same skit, but I have no idea what the skit was about.

My favorite part of the night was a charades-like game where the group asked the audience for two adjectives and two nouns. They got “transcendental” and “photogenic,” and “dog” and “sponge.” The group divided into two teams. One team had to mime “photogenic dog” to Gbenga and get him to say it, and the other had to act out “transcendental sponge” and get Steve to guess it. WHAT?! And as they guessed out loud at each other, Steve and Gbenga were actually hurling really bizarre insults at one another. Now, get ready to write some of these down for future use:
“You’re modular.”
“You’re circular.”
“You’re a transcendentalist square.”
“You’re a transcendentalist nerd.”
“You’re a fixture.” ???
“You’re a person that’s not a king.”
“You get smaller and you go through the air and your eye pops out.”
Okay, so maybe you had to be there.

Steve, puh-leeeeez UNDERSTAND this!

Somehow Steve got “transcendental sponge” before Gbenga guessed “photogenic dog.” Here’s how to act out “transcendental,” in case you ever need to:
1) Act like a train. (trans)
2) Hold up ten fingers. (cen)
3) Act like you’re at the dentist. (dental)
Voila!

And for sponge:
1) Pretend to wash dishes.
2) Pretend to wash a car.
3) Pretend to wash a dog.
4) Act out an ocean floor scene.
5) Get frustrated.
6) Do lots of squeezing motions with your hands.
7) When your partner STILL doesn’t get it (ugh, Steve!!), do lunges, and somehow that’ll work.

I’m sure between the photos and this entry you have a crystal clear picture of what to expect when you go see No Strings Attached. Ha. Catch them on Harrisonburg’s next First Friday at Downtown 34, and be sure to like them on Facebook to stay informed of other upcoming performances. Prepare to giggle, snort, cringe, guffaw, squirm, gasp, and possibly even sneeze. I’m sure it’ll be excruciatingly uncomfortable and side-splittingly funny for all involved!

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.

treasure hunt in the burg no. 16: first friday.

When I thought of the title for this post, I got all excited about the pirate jokes I could make. But I don’t want my corniness to get on everyone’s nerves, so I’ll just say a few words and then leave it alone: Booty. “Mate.” Poop deck. Ho. Spanker. There–what a relief.

No, this post isn’t about swashbuckling ruffians who pillage innocent communities; it’s about a bounty of people who, through their unique vision, give to our community in beautiful ways.

Brandy and I attended the first First Friday of the season on… well, the first Friday in April. It also happened to be MaCRoCk weekend, so downtown was very much alive and swarmy. Throngy. But in a festive way, not in a Walmart-the-day-before-Thanksgiving way.

First Friday is a free and family-friendly celebration of culture and community hosted by the Arts Council of the Valley. From 5 – 8pm on the first Friday of each month, you can stroll through downtown Harrisonburg and enjoy numerous art exhibits and performances. What results is a treasure hunt of sorts, seeking out the art featured at various locations. What we also discovered, however, is that the artists themselves are local treasures.

Friendly City Food Co-op
Meet Pat Jarrett–a guy who would make any self-respecting pirate quake in his boot. Why? Because he’s the president and founder of the Beard and Mustache Society of the Blue Ridge. (It’s true, people–it’s on Facebook.)

His colorful photos hung throughout the store and included subjects such as Swiss chard, peaches, apples, bread, cows at night, and a guy named Steve wearing plaid flannel and manhandling a carcass of some sort. But my favorite was the photo of the guy holding his rooster, next to a description of the Low and Slow philosophy of meat cooking. I’d say holding your rooster against your body until he’s cooked is plenty slow. Seriously, Pat’s eye for the sumptuous beauty of daily life is what makes him a local treasure.

Ten Thousand Villages
I’ve seen several of April Sedeen‘s paintings before–usually large, striking portraits with bold lines and colors–but I was not expecting to see framed “doodles” (as she calls them) when I entered Ten Thousand Villages. Yet there they were, all lined up in rows and columns along the wall. Who knew this jewel-eyed lass was soooo funny?

So I sat on a giant stack of rugs and laughed my butt off at her doodles. Like the one that’s just a dot, entitled “Modern Art.” Or the one of the king standing next to a toilet–“Royal Flush.” Or this one, where the veggies are eating humans.
I wanted all of them, displayed in my house just as they were that day. If you want daily doodles (and, I mean, who doesn’t??), you can like her Facebook page Doodle Du Jour.

Wonder
The next local treasure we encountered was Sarah Murphy. That woman supports everything in this town. I see her everywhere. For three years, Sarah has organized the Art Auction for Haiti–a sale of local art that benefits St. Joseph’s Orphanage in Gonâve, Haiti. Artists donated their work, others bid on it, and as there were no costs associated with the auction, all proceeds–nearly $1000–went straight to the orphanage. Everyone involved–Sarah, the artists, and the buyers–are treasures.
A side note: The art was displayed in this hallway that runs the length of the store. I never knew that was there! Ya learn somethin’ new… Brandy managed to win Kevin Edwards’ “Turd Piece” (sorry, Kevin, that’s the information I got) AND, Elliott Downs has opened a record shop inside Wonder (post forthcoming!). I saw sooooo many good albums there, including the Molly Hatchet one I had in 5th grade. Why did I like them? Because they look like pirates. Or Vikings. On horses.

The Yellow Button–post forthcoming!
Meet Nicole Martorana, a writer/photographer/videographer who’s dabbled in just about every art-related line of work, including stints at Harrisonburg Tourism, Court Square Theater, the Arts Council of the Valley, and now the Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance. Still she finds time for her photography, beautifully displayed at the Yellow Button.

Her exhibit included pieces from an ongoing project called Show Your Face. During each exhibit, she takes polaroids of people who’ve come to see it, asks them to write short descriptions of themselves, frames the snapshots, and adds them to the collection for future display. If you’d like to see or participate in the exhibit, you can find Nicole at the RubyRed Shoe Boutique on Friday, May 4.
The Lady Jane
And there was Sara Christensen, the lovely, knowledgeable proprietor of The Lady Jane, who could tame an entire fleet of scallywags with one batch of brownies and sew a Jolly Roger better than any wench in town. Her exhibit was unlike the others in that it was not only aesthetically pleasing but also instructional. It reflected what she does for a living every day. She called the exhibit a “Mood Board,” and it was a collection of design elements (fabrics, colors, pictures of furniture, etc.) that revolved around a certain theme or style (in this case it was Rustic Vintage meets English Cottage). It’s a simple way to teach design to customers, and she even provided handouts containing advice and other resources.

Mint
Alas, our treasure hunt is nearly complete. But Harrisonburg would not be the treasure trove it is without Denise Kanter-Allen. You know how when you’ve been indoors in the air conditioning for several hours on a warm day, and you’re starting to get a little chilly, how good it feels to get in your warm car? That’s how it feels to be around Denise. Warm. Welcoming. Relaxed. She’s always open to collaborating with others and supporting other artists–she’s done joint art shows with Brandy, Elliott Downs, and Lynda Bostrom, to name a few. And she and Brandy are responsible for Harrisonburg’s first Art Lotto.

Her gorgeous collection of paintings called Leap is still on display at Mint, through the end of the month. All of the paintings feature people jumping for some reason… Brandy’s daughter Ella jumping on the trampoline, Denise herself jumping into the Aegean Sea (no doubt to welcome the pirates ashore), among others, all of which convey beautiful grace and movement.


And that concluded our search for hidden treasure; the next First Friday is Friday, May 4. We came home with a chest full of precious memories, lasting impressions, and meaningful encounters… all given freely by our priceless Harrisonburg.

Harrisonb-ARGH. Ha.

Sorry.

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