The #sawOfeve, as Turner calls it, wears its age much like the smattering of decayed buildings in the Battery Park vicinity. The saw is a mascot, an icon of good design, something that, if taken care of, can be long-lasting. "That's what human relationships, well-designed communities are about," he says.
Turner, who salvaged the saw on a day of exploring a dumpster for recyclable items, says, "I love tools, particularly ones that have not changed much over time. They stay relevant because they reflect some deep, almost mathematical truth, an ideal state." Rather than glossing over the rust and losing the transcendent beauty of decay, Turner explains the saw as a local icon of progressive urban ideas, a reminder for residents to respect where they call home.
Through this project, Battery Park will serve as an intersection of ideas relating to nostalgia and change simultaneously. Turner says that the #sawOfeve project can act as a catalyst to prompt community engagement and unite groups in the area that have historically remained disparate."My ultimate goal is to facilitate the creation of an entirely community-run magazine in which the content is produced by community members about the community," he says. As the #sawOfeve provokes themes of recycling by repurposing misbegotten items, Turner aims to inspire the people to strengthen their lives through involvement that can eventually improve the shared environment.
With #sawOfeve, Turner says, "I wanted to encourage artists to put their own perspective on it, to suggest different ways to see the same thing, to look at our public spaces — to show where they come from, who they are." Turner says this project allows anyone to take on the role of an artist, and to "look deeper — use their phones as a tool to deepen their relationship with the world."
Tattoo festivals were first introduced to Richmond in the 1980s and 90s by Crazy Ace Daniels and Billy Eason. The official Richmond Tattoo Arts Festival, founded in 1992, has facilitated communication between artists and tattoo enthusiasts alike since that time. Three years ago, the heritage of the festival, and the responsibility of planning such a large-scale event, was passed on to Nate Drew and C.J. Starkey of Flaco Productions, LLC.
“Nate tattoos at Lost Art Tattoo and I run the day to day and logistics,” says Starkey. Hailing from Salt Lake City, Drew and Starkey share organizational duties to produce a show founded on the duo’s mission to “feature a select group of world-class tattoo artists and unique vendors.”
Michael Meyers, the general manager of the Richmond Convention Center, says, “You don’t have to be a tattoo enthusiast or even get tattooed to enjoy it.” Meyers notes that the event grows in popularity each year, adds to the mix of entertainment in the area and encourages people to visit from around the state to see what downtown Richmond has to offer. “People in different parts of the world view tattoos differently, but tattoos are gradually being more accepted as a form of art,” Meyers says.
Celebrating the medium of ink, artists from near and far fuel this alternative art acceptance. While the tradition of tattoo art has long been a cultural stamp in civilizations dating to ancient Egypt, body modification in the modern context still garners social stereotypes. Events like this work to abolish the criticism attached to tattoos and replace negative connotations with positive associations.
Richmond embraces a lifestyle that includes tattoos and is home to 14.5 tattoo shops per 100,000 people. This thriving community of tattoo shops will be on display this weekend as local talent from Heroes & Ghosts, Loose Screw Tattoo, Salvation Tattoo Gallery and more are featured on the artist lineup.
Greg French of Heroes & Ghosts recalls the earlier years of the convention just hours before setting up his shop’s booth. French said, “I used to work for Billy Eason when it was getting started and have participated for last 10 years or so.” The weekend is “a family reunion of artists and collectors,” says French. “You get inspired by seeing other people’s work.”
Out-of-town guest artists represent a broad range of regional styles from every corner of the map. Among these traveling ink masters is Chelsea Shoneck, who most recently guest tattooed at Studio 13 in Fort Wayne, Ind. She brought her feminine, neo-traditional tattoos to Richmond earlier this year and has even been inspired to relocate to the tattoo mecca on a more permanent basis sometime after the convention.
Starting Friday from 3 to 11 p.m., continuing Saturday from noon to 10 p.m., and finishing up on Sunday, noon to 8 p.m., there is plenty of time to schedule a booking with artists demonstrating various styles of work. One-day passes are $20, while three-day laminated passes cost $40. You must be 18 years old to get tattooed, but it is an all-ages event.
Walker’s first name couldn’t be more apt. Her affinity for musical compositions has earned her acclaim as a songwriter, while her cross-country travels with partner Groopman have earned the duo a slew of awards and a following of fans.
“We aren’t the Grateful Dead yet, but we have a broad fan base,” Walker says. Her first album, Gold Rush Goddess, was named one of the top 50 albums of 2012 by the alternative-country music publication No Depression. Walker said, “After spending a year getting our name out there, this tour has been better and has come with bigger crowds.”
A year on the road also served as inspiration for the duo’s present album, which runs deep with themes of origin and family roots. Walker says, “Our lyrics come from our life experiences.” She adds that the title track, ”“We Made It Home” seems like a love song, but it’s inspired by “finding home wherever you are on the road.” The album was produced by produced by Grammy-winning bluegrass musician Laurie Lewis.
For Groopman, who grew up in Richmond's West End, returning to RVA manifests itself quite literally in the album. The bluesy ballad “Sweet Sunny South” recalls Groopman’s personal history and chronicles his experience of leaving Virginia and coming back. Meanwhile, the ditty “Come On Mule” was first performed by one of Groopman’s relatives and references his Southern heritage and the Tobacco Row Mountains.
Just as the Richmond music scene has changed since the last time Groopman visited the city, the music he and Walker create together has also evolved. “This album was a team effort,” Groopman says, “We both bring something different to the table that has helped the sound grow organically.”
The duo want crowds to tap into the authenticity of their music to forge a personal connection with it as they reflect their own musical pasts. In addition to performing together, Walker and Groopman also lend their vocal and instrumental talents to the bluegrass band Front Country, which took Best Band at the Telluride and Rockygrass competition. While they’re uncertain what comes next in their musical careers, they do have plans to tour constantly. Walker stresses, “There’s no breaks, there’s no rest for the wicked if you want to stay in the scene. “
Tickets to the show at In Your Ear (1813 E. Broad St.) are $20 in advance (available through their website), $25 at the door and $15 for those younger than 21. They'll also be playing Monday afternoon at the Collegiate School, where Groopman attended middle school.
The performances are a mix of many different styles of music, movement and production, but each performer has the same goal. “They take on different gods,” says producer Damion Bond (“The Muse”). “Some use burlesque, circus art, modern dance, anything, but basically the life of the deity is being told through movement.” The DJ and the MC of the production are both musicians, and they composed much of the music that's used. Any music that isn’t original, says Bond, “is pretty obscure and amazing.”
The audience is taken on a journey through all different parts of Egyptian lore, and the emotions of the performances go up and down. “We ask the artists to be witty, daring, and emotionally driven in their performances,” Bond says. “The emotion goes from sadness to sensuality to in-your-face funny. It’s a nice ride!” The production is big and dramatic, with big sets and lots of props. It even features some fire. “It’s a lot of work, working with choreographers and artists and musicians,” Bond says. But the final product apparently has a truly moving, spiritual dimension.
Bond and associate producer Brett Zwerdling (“The Great Zwerdling”) put on different "Ancient Musings" productions once a month at Godfrey’s Restaurant on Grace Street. This is the first time their production will be performed at CenterStage. “We approached them,” says Bond. “They were really enthusiastic, I think because the production goes so deep.” Going to this production is more than just watching a performance — it’s an experience, for the audience and the performers. “We’re taking people back, to when performances were all about experience,” Bond says.
Here’s a trailer:
Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 on the day of the show. They’re available at the CenterStage Box Office, online at etix.com or by phone at (800) 514-3849.
Richard M. Parison Jr., who in December will leave the position he’s held since 2010 as executive director at Richmond CenterStage, is director of the production. Bruce Miller, the artistic director for Virginia Rep, saw Dessa Rose, a production that Parison had directed at Firehouse Theatre (with Carol Piersol as artistic director) and asked if he would be interested in directing Fiddler on the Roof. “I jumped at the opportunity,” Parison says.
Asked about his departure from CenterStage, he says, "While the decision to leave CenterStage Foundation was bittersweet, I am excited to return to the creative theatrical pursuits I left when I came to Richmond." Before moving here, Parison served as producing director for Barrington Stage Co. in Pittsfield, Mass. He adds, "CenterStage Foundation is strong and robust — and the board of trustees and staff have an amazing future full of limitless possibilities. I look forward to returning as an audience member to see so many of the wonderfully rich performing arts events at all of our venues."
Playing the lead role of Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof is David Benoit, who has appeared on Broadway in Jekyll and Hyde, Avenue Q, Les Miserables and other productions. Living in Tsarist Russia in 1905, Tevye is a poor milkman struggling to balance his family’s happiness with the traditions that have been in place in his village for centuries. Tevye’s daughters want to find their own love, not have it arranged for them, and outside political forces threaten everything he holds dear. Benoit is joined by Williamsburg resident Tamara Johnson to play Golde, Tevye’s wife.
Even though the musical is about a Jewish family, the themes are universal, which is what drew Parison to the musical. “This musical presents an opportunity to explore how those themes and values resonate for a modern audience,” he says.
The opening number of Fiddler on the Roof is the emphatic “Tradition.” Next year will mark the Tony Award-winning score’s 50th anniversary.
“In the 1960s, the creators of Fiddler on the Roof said they believed that the musical is about the ‘dissolution of a way of life,’ ” Parison says. “So in, the opening number of the show — one of the most iconic opening numbers ever written — audiences see these strong, determined, faithful, proud —traditional people. It establishes who these people are and what audiences can expect to see on stage. It is then that our story of change and evolution begins.”
The production’s choreographer, set designer and lighting designer are also all new to Virginia Repertory Theatre. Community partnerships for Fiddler include the Weinstein JCC, Virginia Holocaust Museum and Chabad of Virginia. Tickets are $36 to $60. University and high school students’ tickets are $15.