Photo courtesy Science Museum of Virginia
If you visit the Periodic Table, the comfortable café at the Science Museum of Virginia, you can get some knowledge with your sandwich and some aesthetic satisfaction with your cappuccino. Frank Heller, the museum's manager of artistic development, is creating presentations there that complement a wall-size, three-dimensional representation of the pieces that make up all our parts. Though May 11, "Iron: Element 26" makes its showing, as interpreted by Tom Chenoweth, one of Richmond's foremost metal sculptors and a 2013 Theresa Pollak Prize for Excellence in the Arts honoree.
Heller, a former Virginia Commonwealth University arts professor, explains, "We had Paul Teeples for tin, Kim Eubank for copper, Jude Schlotzhauer for silicon. I think everything can be interpreted artistically, and these pieces physically put people in touch with elements. And who better for iron than Tom?"
Chenoweth's industrial furniture fantasias, tables and lamps, are on view, as are two sculptures, including one made specifically for the exhibition. "Steel is an incarnation of iron," he says. "It's an alloy of iron and other elements. But it works on both the metaphorical and actual levels."
The backdrop for the show, the representation of the elements, is illustrative and, Heller points out, makes memorizing them much easier. It's adapted from the book The Elements. The Periodic Table as we know it was organized by 19th-century Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev, whose flowing beard and craggy looks give him the appearance of Dostoevsky, his novelist contemporary; also, one eye is blue and the other green. "Gives him kind of a mad professor look," Heller says. What's next? Heller considers. "Perhaps calcium." 864-1400 or smv.org .