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Photo courtesy Library of Virginia
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Photo courtesy Virginia Historical Society
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Photo courtesy Virginia Musuem of Fine Arts
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Photo by Ian Hurdle
Richmond's cultural treasure chest is vast. Here is a tiny sampling chosen for visibility and the stories that are revealed about us as a city and region, and, by extension, those who live here.
1. George Washington by Jean Antoine-Houdon, Virginia State Capitol
When the Marquis de Lafayette, Wash-ington's wartime comrade, saw the statue in 1824, he said, "That is the man himself. I can almost realize he is going to move." Houdon traveled to Mount Vernon to get life casts of Washington's face. Created from a 1784 commission by the Virginia legislature, the depiction of Washington, not as a be-robed Roman but as a citizen soldier, suited the man and the times, and ever after.
2. The Memorial Military Murals, or The Four Seasons of the Confederacy by Charles Hoffbauer, Virginia Historical Society
These works depict the rise and ebb of the Confederate military, but also offer testimony to the artist's own World War I experiences. The Paris-born, classically trained Hoffbauer worked on the Confederate Memorial Association commission between 1914 and 1921. He left during the war to fight for his native France, and by the time he returned, his approach to the work had changed, which is most vividly seen in the soldier's exhaustion and dead horses of the Winter Mural's artillery retreat scene. A conservation effort of the room-size series began in June 2011 and will be completed this summer.
3. Landscape With Wing by Anselm Kiefer, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Created in 1981, the massive work of oil, straw and lead on canvas (roughly 11 by 18 feet) is so large that rather than relocate it when a 1999 Egyptian show moved in, the museum's staff boxed it in and and sealed it off. The German Kiefer's work has interpreted the great promise and tragedy of 20th-century Europe's conflicts. On the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I, which settled little and bequeathed to us a worse sequel, Kiefer's soaring work gains another aspect of appreciation.
4. Hertz + Tesla + Van de Graaff by Tom Chenoweth, Dominion Power offices near the Belle Isle pedestrian bridge entrance
This metal fabricated sculpture, created in 2005 and installed in 2012, memorializes three pioneers of electricity: Nikola Tesla, Heinrich Rudolf Hertz and Robert Jemison Van de Graaff. Unlike anything else in Richmond, it stands near the utility that traces its history back to the General Assembly's 1795 chartering of the Upper Appomattox Co. to develop industry along the James River. The company evolved into the Virginia Electric and Power Co., which supplied partially hydroelectric power for the city's streetcars.
5. The Quiet Place by Heide Trepanier, Richmond Public Library
The 2007 painting greets visitors as they walk into the somewhat staid and utilitarian lobby of the city library's Main branch. The ebullient squishy forms that spread out are like the places where your intellect and imagination can be guided. Trepanier, who once studied biology, creates a world reminiscent of Dr. Seuss, comic books and the 1966 sci-fi movie Fantastic Voyage. "I have a real appreciation for surrealism and minimalism," she said when receiving the Theresa Pollak Prize in 2004. "You can definitely see nerve endings and muscles, anthropomorphic qualities in there." Trepanier is co-founder of the recently formed LoveBomb art space in Manchester