When Chris Palmer moved into his Fan apartment in the fall of 2008, he envisioned a space where people would be visually entertained, and not just by his artwork. "I like the idea of people coming in, sitting and looking around," he says. "A friend walked in and jokingly said I have a salon."
Palmer, who teaches drawing and printmaking at Randolph-Macon College and printmaking at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Studio School, has made the front room of his apartment multifunctional: a dining room, a showroom and a studio. "It's a wonderful space for me," he says. "I come in here late at night, put on some music and draw."
It's an important showcase for Palmer's personal work, including a collection of luscious, one-of-a-kind landscape prints. It also highlights some of his favorite finds from students past and present. A ceramic vase created by a former middle-school student sits on the sill overlooking Hanover Avenue, and another vase on a wooden table greets guests. The room also serves as a revolving gallery of art. When the mood strikes, Palmer will rotate one of his own pieces with one that he's received from an exchange of 30 artists.
One of his goals was to keep everything in the room inexpensive. Most of the furnishings cost less than $200 or were given to him by friends — and he never throws anything away, he says. A workman's chest from Sears holds his supplies; a trio of outdoor chairs offers guests a panoramic view of the room.
Palmer relishes the apartment's location. "I can draw here and print at the VMFA Studio School, have people over, take a break and go to dinner," he says. "It's a great little meeting place."