Photo by David Stover / Courtesy of Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
The Hollywood Costume at VMFA exhibit was named the Best New Museum Exhibit or Feature
Best New Sporting Event
Redskins Training Camp
Not everybody was pleased when the Washington Redskins planted their spikes in Richmond soil last summer. Nonetheless, the training camp’s first year brought an influx of tourists and provided Richmonders with good gossip (including RGIII sightings at the Tobacco Company Restaurant and Krispy Kreme’s drive-through). This summer, as the New England Patriots join the ’Skins for joint practices Aug. 4 to 6, even more fans are expected.
2. Richmond 2015/UCI Road World Championships
3. Flying Squirrels games
Most Improved Local Event
Shamrock the Block
More than 44,000 people attended this year’s Shamrock the Block to enjoy the benefits of its new location on The Boulevard. “We moved from Shockoe Bottom to give guests more space, and improve parking, access, and safety,” says Mike Murphy, managing partner with ThreeOneOne Productions.
2. Folk Festival
3. Dominion Riverrock
Best Local Band
Three Sheets to the Wind
Richmond’s favorite yacht rockers have won this category for three years running. They’ve even played for Michael Stipe, lead singer of R.E.M., although they didn’t know at the time. Drummer Danny Marnier notes that they performed an R.E.M. song — “It’s the End of the World as We Know It,” by request — and later saw Stipe, who silently nodded in their direction.
2. No BS! Brass Band
3. Black Girls
Best Local Adventure or Staycation
Enjoying the James River (rafting, tubing, etc.)
The James River is a “wild experience in the heart of urban living,” says Jamie Brunkow, lower James riverkeeper for the James River Association. “Anyone can take time to get out of the city and enjoy kayaking, swimming, fishing, tubing or rock hopping. The activities are endless.”
3. Belle Isle
Best New Charity or Nonprofit
The brainchild of graphic artist Ryn Bruce, Batter Up is her year-old project to bake cakes for deserving Richmonders nominated by friends or colleagues. “I could count on one hand how many cakes I’d baked before this project,” says Bruce, who expects to have made between 116 and 126 cakes by the first week of August, including 60 for veterans.
2. The Gray Haven Project
3. Full Circle Grief Center
Best Daytime or Nighttime Parade
Easter on Parade
Monument Avenue between Allen and Davis avenues, venturerichmond.com, 788-6477
One of Richmond’s greatest parties started on Easter Sunday 1973 with a loan of $250, broken cookies and several pitchers of lemonade. Resident Zayde Dotts and like-minded co-conspirators wanted to prevent Monument Avenue’s slide into decrepitude. After a move downtown for several years, the celebration returned to its source in 1991. “It’s an institution,” says Lisa Sims of Venture Richmond, which runs the event.
2. Dominion Christmas Parade
3. Oregon Hill Halloween Parade
Best New Museum Exhibit or Feature
Hollywood Costume at VMFA
200 N. Boulevard, 340-1405, vmfa.museum
This exhibition at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts offered visitors the opportunity to at least stand near clothes worn by stars from 1912 to 2012. The VMFA’s Suzanne Hall says, “The media response for this exhibition confirmed the resounding success, as did the public’s engagement in social media, the increase in museum attendance and memberships, and the statewide awareness of the museum’s exhibitions and programs.”
2. Anything at the VMFA
3. Tie: Boost! at the Science Museum of Virginia; Chihuly at VMFA
Best Place for Dancing
5470 W. Broad St., 864-2300
“We have the tendency to attract nice people; we are not a competitive studio,” says Eleanor Robertson of Rigby’s Jig, a studio that offers classes such as tango, cha cha and swing, and holds dance parties. The regulars at Rigby’s are as warm and inviting as the studio itself, making newcomers feel welcome whether they have dancing experience or two left feet.
2. Babe’s of Carytown
3. Havana 59
Best Day Trip from Richmond
Readers voted the college town to our west — particularly the wineries on its outskirts — as the best place to travel for the day. Rolling hills, the occasional horse sighting, exciting restaurants and excellent roots music are just some of Charlottesville’s draws. If you’re looking for wineries with amazing views, start with Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyards and Burnley Vineyards, both in Albemarle County.
3. Virginia Beach
Best Emerging Theater Company
Firehouse Theatre Project
1609 W. Broad St., 355-2001
Since Firehouse just celebrated its 20th season, marketing director Laura Cliburn wonders if readers see “emerging” as presenting new works — a big part of the theater’s mission. There was also a change in leadership after founding artistic director Carol Piersol stepped down amid some acrimony in late 2012. Cliburn adds, “I know there are still a lot of people in Richmond who have never heard of us before, but once they do find out about us, they keep coming back.”
2. Coalition Theater
Best Live Reading Series or Showcase
Tie: Any reading at Chop Suey; Secretly Y'all at Balliceaux
2913 W. Cary St., 422-8066; secretlyall.com
Both of our winners feature professional wordsmiths as well as novices telling stories and reading aloud. “We host readings of published and unpublished authors,” says Chop Suey’s Ward Tefft. “We don’t do it just because there’s a book to sell.” The Secretly Y’all series asks for true stories, no more than seven minutes in length, all based on a designated theme. “It’s a nice thing to hear real people tell their stories,” co-coordinator Kathleen Brady says.
Best Concert Series
Innsbrook After Hours
Innsbrook has brought popular musical acts — from new country to classic rock — to Richmond for 29 years, and this season is no different. August delivers George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, Gov’t Mule, Scotty McCreery, and Thomas Rhett, with Dierks Bentley and Earth, Wind and Fire coming up in September and October.
2. Friday Cheers
3. Pocahontas Live
Best Open-Mic Comedy Night
Richmond Funny Bone
Short Pump Town Center, 521-8900, funnybone.com
Richmond Funny Bone’s open-mic night requires participants to sign up first at clashofthecomicsva.com. If they’re any good, they could win an opening spot for one of the club’s headliners, which have included Mo’Nique and Mike Birbiglia. Clash of the Comics happens at 7:30 p.m. on the third Wednesday of the month (but check the calendar first).
2. McCormack's Irish Pub
3. Coalition Theater
Best Jazz Showcase
(Tie) Richmond Jazz Festival at Maymont; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Jazz Café
1700 Hampton St., 358-7166; 200 N. Boulevard, 340-1405
Maymont’s jazz festival, taking place this month, brings in some of the biggest jazz stars on the scene today, while the VMFA exposes large audiences to local musicians, who perform in the Best Café. Jazz at Maymont will feature Maceo Parker, Eric Benet, Cassandra Wilson, Boz Scaggs and Richmond’s Plunky and Oneness, among many other performers. Meanwhile, the museum (in collaboration with Richmond Jazz Society) presented bossa nova and blues artist Mary Hermann Garcia, jazz by the Tony Mata Trio and pianist Debo Dabney in June and July.
3. VCU Jazz Department
Best Place to Hear Live Music
708 E. Broad St., 612-1900
For a long time, Richmond seemed to be skipped over by newer music acts. But The National brought an injection of energy by updating a 1921 movie theater and providing a midsize venue. Box office manager Zach Hanbury notes that it uses the same bookers as the NorVA in Norfolk, but the audiences differ; Modest Mouse sold out in minutes here, while taking a couple of days in Norfolk. The National’s most popular act is the 1980s tribute band the Legwarmers. Get your tickets and pull out the neon tank dresses!
2. The Camel
3. Innsbrook After Hours
Best Richmond Spot/View for Your Instagramming
Libby Hill Park/Overlook
2801 E. Franklin St., 646-0036
It’s called “The View That Named Richmond,” whether or not our reluctant father William Byrd II actually named us for London suburb Richmond-on-Thames. Preservationists in recent years have fought to keep high-rise buildings from despoiling the vista. “You can really see a significant portion of Richmond’s history from that site,” says Scenic Virginia’s Leighton Powell. “And in London, you can walk on both sides of the river. It’s just so easy a thing to do, and we need to make that happen here.”
2. Belle Isle
3. James River
Best Piece of Public Art
“Moonshine” mural by Etam Cru
1011 W. Grace St.
Created for the 2013 Art Whino exhibition, Polish duo Etam Cru’s colorful depiction of a woman relaxing in a hooch jar is playful, colorful, expressive and popular — it was ranked No. 3 on BuzzFeed.com’s list of “Best Street Art in the World 2013,” and Art Whino’s Shane Pomajambo says a print of the mural has been selling steadily.
2. GRTC bus depot murals from the RVA Street Art Festival
3. Chihuly’s Red Reeds at VMFA
Best Place for July Fourth Fireworks
3001 N. Boulevard, 359-4444
The Flying Squirrels have brought more fireworks into the lives of Richmonders than ever before, with numerous themed pyrotechnic displays during the season, including five just during the month of August. “There’s a different entertainment theme with each show. It keeps our fresh factor going,” says Todd “Parney” Parnell, the team’s vice president and COO. He also notes that the Diamond’s central location and accessibility contributes to its popularity for firework-watchers.
2. Dogwood Dell/The Carillon
3. Brown’s Island
Best Local Stage Actor/Actress
Reached via Facebook, Scott Wichmann is currently on an 11-month Navy assignment assisting the re-supply of ships through the port of Djibouti at Camp Lemonnier, a U.S. Naval Expeditionary Base. “The hours are really long,” he says. Wichmann’s resilient, dynamic performances are given sometimes while singing — and often as distinct multiple characters in one-man shows. He also gave the president the news about the Navy taking Fort Fisher in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln.
2. Tie: Joe Inscoe; Jason Marks
3. Dawn Westbrook
Most Overlooked Museum or Historic Site
Edgar Allan Poe Museum
1914 E Main St, 648-5523
“Most overlooked? That means that we have a lot of work to do,” says Jaime Fawcett, the Poe Museum’s executive director. The underrated space boasts a fascinating trove of manuscripts, photos, letters, first editions and even a lock of the master of the macabre’s hair. One popular feature is a monthly “Unhappy Hour,” featuring art and music based on Poe’s work. “Come, get unhappy with us,” Fawcett says.
2. Valentine Richmond History Center
3. Virginia Holocaust Museum
Best Theater Building
6 N. Laurel St., 592-3368
Formerly called the Landmark, the newly renamed Altria Theater started in 1927 as The Mosque, a Shriners’ convention center that included hotel rooms, a bowling alley, a swimming pool and a 4,600-seat auditorium. Owned by the city since 1940, it’s played host to some of the biggest acts in the business (most famously, Elvis in 1956). “It’s the largest performing-arts venue between New York and Atlanta,” says Capital Results partner Jay T. Smith. After an extensive two-year renovation is completed this fall, he says, “patrons and performers are going to love this theater even more.”
2. Byrd Theatre
3. Richmond CenterStage’s Carpenter Theatre
Best Art Auction
Visual Arts Center’s Collectors’ Night
1812 W. Main St., 353-0094
More than 225 guests attended the 28thannual Collectors’ Night gala on March 22, generating more than $200,000 for the organization’s outreach programming, says Liz Bryant, the Visual Arts Center of Richmond’s director of development. “Art in the live and silent auctions included works by Paul DiPasquale, Bill Fisher, Josh George, Martin Johnson, Louis Poole and Diego Sanchez.”
2. 1708 Gallery
3. Alexander’s Antiques
Best Place to Take a Class for Fun
Visual Arts Center of Richmond
1812 W. Main St., 353-0094
From its 1963 founding as the Hand Workshop, VisArts has built upon its arts-education offerings. Introductory classes make it easy to explore something new, whether it’s fiction writing, acrylic painting or loom weaving. “People get a sense of a larger community of creative pursuit,” says Kris Iden, interim adult-education director.
2. Spirited Art
3. Wine & Design
Gallery With the Most Thought-Provoking Work
200 N. Boulevard, 340-1405, vmfa.museum
While not strictly a gallery, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has galleries that between them display more than 3,000 years of human creativity. “Curators, designers, installers, registrars, editors and many others work together to make our galleries places where visitors can enjoy, learn, and be inspired,” says John Ravenal, the VMFA’s curator of modern and contemporary art. “I’m glad to know we’re doing our job!”
2. Tie: 1708 Gallery; Gallery 5
3. Ghostprint Gallery
Best Area of Town to Cycle In
Pedaling past splendid architecture underneath the shade of trees is pleasurable, but less so was this spring’s public reaction to a city plan for enhancing bike accessibility on Floyd Avenue from Monroe Park to Carytown. During the summer, consultants’ recommendations will generate more discussion. Jakob Helmboldt, coordinator of the city’s pedestrian, bicycling and trail efforts, says, “It’s about improving that corridor and [making it] more convenient and safer for everyone.”
2. Riverside Drive
3. Byrd Park
Most Inspirational Artist
Happy the Artist
833-7822 or happytheartist.com
Whether it’s the unbelievable sight of his quotation-adorned 1996 pink and blue Cadillac tooling down Broad Street, or the many colorful and detailed murals he has painted for local businesses, hospitals and restaurants, Happy the Artist is an inspiration to our readers. “I guess it’s because I think outside the box,” says Happy (aka J.P. Kuhn). “Who invented the box anyway?”
2. Ed Trask
3. Christopher Mize
City Neighborhood with the Friendliest Neighbors
Matt Stanley, president of the Fan District Association, recognizes that his neighborhood is a unique and historic place, but not a museum. Here, real, breathing people reside and make their lives. “But having the friendliest neighbors is really what makes it so special. Everyone is welcome here and we’re proud of it!”
2. Church Hill
3. Museum District
Best Chesterfield New Neighborhood
15930 Drumone Road, 794-9119
“Anyone who comes to Hallsley is immediately enamored with the homes — each house is unique, because we have 12 different builders,” says Connie Pollard, senior vice president of marketing for East West Realty. The location is also a plus; residents live within three to five miles of Westchester Commons, and have close access to Routes 288 and 60. Downtown Richmond and Short Pump are each only a short drive away as well.
2. Magnolia Green
3. Charter Colony
Best Henrico New Neighborhood
West Broad Village
After struggling through the recession, Short Pump’s West Broad Village has become a lively neighborhood where shops and restaurants are within walking distance and new developments continue, such as the Children of America Educational and Childcare Academy, opening in early fall. “The developer had a vision; there were early signs of success, including that Whole Foods Market and surrounding restaurants were doing well,” says Greg Davis, vice president of Capital Markets and Communications for Excel Trust, which purchased the neighborhood in 2012.
Best New Hanover Neighborhood
8400 Combs Drive, 762-4800
A former plantation that originated in the 1700s, Rutland was named after the smallest historical county in England. The Rutland House, built between 1790 and 1820, now sits next to a swimming pool and serves as a clubhouse for the 202-acre mixed-use community, which includes single-family homes and townhouses, a shopping center and office park — all within a mile and a half of Interstate 295.
2. Tie: Bell Creek; Honey Meadows
Best New Apartment Building/Community, Downtown
4845 Old Main St., 222-5011
Rocketts Landing’s appeal includes low-maintenance living along the James River, along with access to nearby restaurants. Home to 300, the community is close to selling out of its condominiums, says sales manager Amy Broderick. “That prompted us to push forward on phase two,” which includes the construction of 82 townhouses and plans for apartments.
2. The Locks
3. The Lofts at River’s Fall
Most Sought-Out Neighborhood
The Fan District began as a failed 19th-century suburb, but after various housing bubble bursts and economic crises — and boosted by the electric streetcar — it became a community a mile long and a mile wide. Says FDA president Matt Stanley, “It's exciting to see RVA reaffirm what we already know, that the Fan is an incredible neighborhood where people want to live, work and play.”
3. Windsor Farms
Best Local Sports Team
Richmond Flying Squirrels
The Shockoe baseball stadium plan is controversial, but not Nutzy and the gang. Todd “Parney” Parnell, the team’s vice president and COO, notes that the Squirrels have worked to become a “year-round entity,” not just a summer attraction. New this year is Chin Music, a micro-beer produced by Center of the Universe Brewing Co. in Ashland especially for the Squirrels. Also of note: a cash-and-meat (!) giveaway on Aug. 29.
2. VCU (men's) basketball
3. Richmond Kickers
Best Show or Exhibition That Needs to Return
Chihuly at VMFA
200 N. Boulevard, 340-1405
The work of Seattle-based artist Dale Chihuly brought 161,000 people to the 2013 show of his colorful and whimsical glass creations, but it came in second behind box-office champion Pablo Picasso with 236,000 visitors. Robin Nicholson, the VMFA’s deputy director of art and education (who’s leaving for a museum director position in Pittsburgh next month), says that social media played a big part in promoting Chihuly. The artist encouraged people to take images, and an iPhone app even allowed visitors to “design” their own Chihuly. And the museum has a permanent reminder with the artist’s Red Reeds in the reflecting pool by the Best Café. “It’s become one of the landmark pieces in our collection,” observes Nicholson.
2. Hollywood Costume at VMFA
3. Tie: Picasso exhibit at VMFA; Wicked
Best Dance Teacher
Eleanor Robertson of Rigby’s Jig
5470 W. Broad St., 864-2300
“I think I was born to be a teacher,” Eleanor Robertson says. “I am able to explain dance moves in different ways to different types of thinkers. I also teach with a sense of humor to help make my clients relaxed and comfortable.”
2. Marianne Kelley
3. Tie: Jessica Morgan; Pam Turner of Richmond Dance Center
Best Indoor Pool
11621 Robious Road, 378-1600; 2201 Old Brick Road, 464-0990
At ACAC, swimming can be fun and healthy for your skin, too, says marketing director Wendy Greene. “Our indoor pools give guests the option to swim in salt-based water, which is easier on the skin. We have five indoor bodies of water in Midlothian and three at our Short Pump location.”
2. Woodlake Swim & Racquet Club
3. Weinstein JCC
Best Outdoor Pool
11621 Robious Road, 378-1600; 2201 Old Brick Road, 464-0990
ACAC’s outdoor pools win this category due to their availability; they are open for seven months per year in Midlothian and for eight months at Short Pump. Marketing director Wendy Greene says, “Our outdoor pools are also chlorine-based, and our roof-top pool in Short Pump for adults only will be expanding in the future; it has become increasingly popular.”
2. Woodlake Swim & Racquet Club
3. Granite Pool
Best Continuing-Care Community
1600 Westbrook Ave., 264-6000
“Westminster Canterbury has a sense of community among our residents, staff and volunteers,” says President and CEO Donald Lecky. “And while our facilities and programs and services are of the highest quality, what I hear most from my residents is how fortunate they feel to be part of a community that cares about, and for, one another.”
2. Covenant Woods
Best Neighborhood for Empty Nesters
Tie: The Fan; Woodlake
The Fan District’s wins in other categories demonstrate its all-around appeal. As for Woodlake, community association manager and resident Gail Fenske says, “When the kids move out, the community fills in. You never actually feel empty; there are community events, block parties, Friday Cheers, paddle boarding, fitness classes, tennis socials and just the pure joy of walking the beautiful trails to clear your mind and be at peace at the end of the day as you live the life on the lake.”
2. Cross Ridge
3. Rocketts Landing