Around Hat Headquarters, my most recent undertaking involved an exploration of the strata of random papers, files, books and other ephemera that have accreted on my desk and nearby environs. (Said ephemera has occasionally appeared on this blog.)
Cleaning and sorting offer the side benefit of finding stuff.
Like my United Federation of Planets Delegate name badge, which I wore when the then-Paramount’s Kings Dominion held a press event. George Takei, the original Star Trek’s Lt. Sulu, came on crutches. He joked, “I’ve learned a valuable lesson. Never try to kick a Klingon.” And we all laughed.
I wore it to the morning staff meeting.
But I also want to clean up some blog items, too. A few days ago, I posed the question: Richmond is sexy like [blank].
I offered random suggestions, leaning toward the nerdy. While not many responded directly to this post, when I offered the link on Facebook, I got several rather poetic descriptions:
"Honeysuckle." —Nicole Anderson Ellis
"sexy like a rockfish painted to look like a mermaid! ... sexy like a byrd theater goth girl! ... sexy like a summer dress at a porch party ... sexy like a mandolin." —Sceneone Richmond
"pimento cheese." —Shann Palmer
I’m not sure about the last one as metaphor, but I include it for balance, and in appreciation of Shann’s humor.
About that fire on the slope next to Hollywood Cemetery, that for a few minutes looked like Oregon Hill was a goner — for all the drama, it was, the Richmond Fire Department told me, a one-alarm blaze.
Finally, I’m compelled to mention the work of artist Charles McGill, whose “Baggage” exhibtion of 18 found and festooned golf bags came down this past weekend at Russell/Projects in Plant Zero. (They’ll go back up on or around May 13 in the gallery’s adjacent annex space, where they'll stay for the summer, and one of the bags, Raft of Katrina, will be on view for the Earthy Day show opening this weekend.) On the last day of the original run, McGill happened to be at the gallery, and I was fortunate to spend some time with him talking about his work.
The New York City-based, Maryland Institute College of Art-trained McGill in this work merges his personal enjoyment of golfing with questions of race and culture. The bags were found through eBay, cast-outs and yard sales. “People don’t really use them anymore,” McGill says. Using Google searches, he also generated random images that he then applied as collage, in crazy-quilt patterns, making each bag a text. He savors juxtapositions, and sometimes provocation — to make his audience think. To sit back and say, "Well, that’s interesting."
And a couple are prescient: TIGER, Tiger, tiger concerns Tiger Woods and his position in the worlds of sport and celebrity culture. Made in 2007, the piece’s title sounds like a shaking-the-head admonition, and the primary images of Tiger wiping a tear and bowing his head as though humbled are familiar now for different reasons.
Saga of Three Kings mashes together King Kong, Rodney King and Martin Luther King Jr. But for Once Upon a Time in a Land Far Away, Confederate generals are placed near images of minstrelsy and lynching.
McGill looked up “Southern generals” without knowing them, and then he incorporated them into the pastiche of imagery on one of the bags. And, well, I could name all of them and give little thumbnail sketches of their careers. Context is meaningful: Here, Joseph Reid Anderson, who managed Tredegar Iron Works, one of the largest Southern munitions plants, which Anderson saved from destruction during the Evacuation Fire. There, Fitzhugh Lee, Robert E.’s nephew, whose later ascendancy to governor of Virginia spelled the end of the political career of another former general, Billy Mahone. Mahone's somewhat opportunistic and somewhat racially inclusive Readjuster Party implemented real statewide reforms, but with its mismanagement and demise, Jim Crow came in with a century of undemocratic Democratic-machine politics. I've often wondered how it could've been different.
“Wow,” McGill amusedly exclaimed following my martial musings. Then he indicated a disturbing and familiar lynching photograph, “Bet you don’t know his name.” I shook my head. “No, sadly, I don’t.”
Seeing these bags in Richmond is different than in a gallery in Chelsea.
If you go, be advised: Some of the images may not be suitable for youngsters.