Robin Cage at work in her 43rd Street studio (Photo by Jay Paul)
On my way to work on Sept. 12, I listened to an interview with Blacksburg author Melody Warnick about her new book, “This Is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live.” She talked about her family’s move to Blacksburg, her desire to fit in, and a concept she came across that sociologists called “place attachment” — that emotional bond you feel with some places. She also shared how powerful a few banana muffins were for celebrating National Good Neighbor Day, which falls on Sept. 28.
In 2002, my husband and I were on the hunt for a neighborhood that we could call home — one with sidewalks, one with neighbors you could depend on and one with that sense of place. And we stumbled upon that place during the 43rd Street Festival of the Arts in the historic Forest Hill neighborhood — always the third Saturday in September.
Walking 43rd Street, Springhill Avenue and Stonewall Avenue that Saturday morning, we met many artists and residents who still are the glue of the Forest Hill neighborhood — Dena Lakin, who became a staple at Blanchard’s Coffee and Victory Farms, and an across-the-street neighbor; Steven Glass, a talented potter and eventual backyard neighbor; and Robin Cage, another potter who owns the 43rd Street Gallery and started the festival, which has been going strong for 25 years.
Robin is featured in this month’s issue as part of a photo essay by Mark Robinson and Jay Paul called “Meet Your Makers.” Robin’s gallery on 43rd, between Forest Hill Avenue and Springhill Avenue, is a tiny oasis of retail, creativity and civility. Thirty years ago, she bought what old-timers knew as the old Gill’s Market and settled in, putting her kiln in the back of the property and opening a retail shop upfront, where she sells her work and that of friends from around the country — anything from furniture to jewelry.
Her vision for the Festival of the Arts, a fundraiser for CARITAS, gave the neighborhood its first true signature event — a tradition that warmly embraces new neighbors and brings back old ones, a category that my husband and I now fall into since we moved to adjacent Westover Hills.
While Forest Hill today has a thriving farmers market, concerts in the park, a 5K run and many other events, they all were born, in my opinion, from Robin’s devotion to the neighborhood. Robin Cage will receive a plate of banana muffins from me on Sept. 28. She epitomizes Good Neighbor Day.
Look for the October issue of Richmond magazine, on newsstands this week.