By Susan Winiecki
Here's a line-up of some of my favorite artists who live in Richmond:
Thomas Van Auken
Van Auken, long known for his masterful figure painting, enters the outdoors and captures what lurks between sundown and sunup. Van Auken's work is shown at Eric Schindler Gallery (ericschindlergallery.com).
The printmaker's printmaker. A retired VCU professor and Fulbright winner, Freed devotes much of his work to the James River and the atmospheric qualities of his daily walks along its shores.
Resident potter and instructor at VMFA's studio school since 1982, Glass' work combines classic forms with painterly surfaces. You can find his work at Quirk Gallery (quirkgallery.com) and always at the 43rd Street Festival (Sept. 19 this year).
I came across Angevine's work at Tyler Snidow's OnesmART Gallery show in 2007. Her hazy, languid watercolors were simple yet evocative. Now having far more color and abstraction, her landscapes are layered with emotion.
Best Realtor Who Really Knows Richmond
(Tie) Cabell Childress, Shannon Harton and Renee Quate Sheehy Childress:
Long & Foster Realtors, 399-4007; Harton: Long & Foster Realtors, 346-4411; Sheehy: Eudailey & Co. GMAC Real Estate, 282-7678
These Realtors share a common strategy: Drive people around and listen to them. "You present the whole, and then you listen, and then you start breaking it down," says Sheehy, who's lived here all her life. Childress, another native, says he doesn't want to hear from a client a year after a home purchase, "Shoot, we regret not looking at that area." Harton, on his "get-to-know-Richmond tour," introduces newcomers to the view at Libby Hill.
2. (Tie) David Mize, Long & Foster Realtors, (877) 346-4411; Tonya Smith, St. John's Realty,
Best Place to go for a Girls' Night Out
2229 W. Main St., 353-2424
Why do ladies love deLux? "You have the lights, you have the music and you have some nice-looking gentlemen," says manager Jamie Fitzgerald. Plus, the sophisticated surroundings in the two-story Fan restaurant and bar call for a little dressing up, which a lot of ladies like to do, Fitzgerald adds. On Thursday through Sunday nights, DJs spin tunes "you can shake your tush to."
2. Barrel Thief, 5805 Patterson Ave., 612-9232; 11747 W. Broad St., 364-0144
3. (Tie) 3 Monkeys Bar & Grill, 2525 W. Main St., 204-2525; Bandito's Burrito Lounge, 2905 Patterson Ave., 354-9999; Martini Kitchen & Bubble Bar, 1911 W. Main St., 254-4904; Si, 214 N. Lombardy St., 257-7940; Can Can Brasserie, 3120 W. Cary St., 358-7274
Most Uncomfortable Movie House
2908 W. Cary St., 353-9911
We were a little uncomfortable calling Byrd manager Todd Schall-Vess for this "prize," but he was matter-of-fact about it. "One of the things the Byrd Theatre Foundation would like to accomplish is to replace the seats," he says, but "all they can do is keep up with the mortgage." A roof replacement was another big expense for the nonprofit foundation. Bottom line? If you want more legroom, pony up.
2. Regal Westhampton Cinema 2, 5706 Grove Ave., 288-9007
3. United Artists West Tower 10, 8998 W. Broad St., 270-7111
Best Movie House
Movieland at Boulevard Square
1301 N. Boulevard, 354-6099
Yes, it's the new kid's turn. Movieland opened in February, and there's been nonstop buzz since then. We suggest attending Movies and Mimosas, a Sunday-brunch series that screens old movies and draws a really dressy crowd, according to general manager Sean McIntosh. Moviegoers dress up as characters, including a Psycho fan (of the movie — we're not judging) who came as Norman Bates dressed as his mother.
2. Byrd Theatre, 2908 W. Cary St., 353-9911
3. Regal Short Pump Stadium 14, 11650 W. Broad St., 360-0947
Best Free Event or Festival
Richmond Folk Festival
The granddaddy of all free events in Richmond, the October folk festival enters year five (its second as the Richmond Folk Festival) this autumn, presenting performers and artists from all over the world. Last year, 185,000 people attended. Organizers have been working on the schedule since last November, says Lisa Sims, director of events for Venture Richmond. The Virginia Folklife area will focus on sacred traditions, bringing to light lesser-known religions, and the main stage will feature dobro virtuoso Jerry Douglas and yodeler Wylie Gustafson.
2. Arts in the Park, richmondartsinthepark.com
3. Watermelon Festival, carytown.org/wmfestival.htm
Best Local Theater Company
114 W. Broad St., 344-8040
Founded in 1975, this children's theater "started out very humbly," with shows for schoolchildren, says marketing manager Judi Crenshaw. Now, Theatre IV has a main stage on Broad Street and a school-theater program that extends beyond Virginia's borders. The theater remains true to its beginnings, though, producing plays that link to Standards of Learning tests. "It's a wonderful way to teach," Crenshaw says, "especially with students that don't learn a particular way."
2. Barksdale Theatre, 1601 Willow Lawn Drive, 282-2620; 13181 Hanover Courthouse Road, 537-5071
3. Firehouse Theatre Project, 1609 W. Broad St., 355-2001
Best Art Gallery
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
200 N. Boulevard, 340-1400
Hey, VMFA's the best! But it's closed till May (boo). Well, not completely closed, says executive director Alex Nyerges. If you still want to see fine art before the grand reopening, check out the Pauley Center exhibit or the studio school across from the museum on Grove Avenue.
And the renovated museum is "going to be a transformation," Nyerges notes, with 50 percent more space for the permanent collection and twice as many special exhibitions.
2. (Tie) Gallery 5, 200 W. Marshall St., 644-0005; Quirk Gallery, 311 W. Broad St., 644-5450
3. Chasen Galleries, 3554 W. Cary St., 204-1048
Gallery With the Most Attitude
200 W. Marshall St., 644-0005
Probably the only arthouse in Richmond to prompt the rewriting of a law, Gallery 5's nude "Disrobed" show (returning this April) was legally considered a strip show because the gallery sold alcohol at the event, says design director Bizhan Khodabandeh, but the law was later changed to reflect the artistic intent. Other exhibitions of attitude: a nonpermitted workers' rights parade, a carnival featuring belly dancers and sideshow works, and Zine Fest, celebrating independent magazine publishers.
2. Quirk Gallery, 311 W. Broad St., 644-5450
3. Reynolds Gallery, 1514 W. Main St., 355-6553
Best Boomer Community
It's easy to see why boomers — or anyone — would want to move to the Fan, given the restaurants, museums, art galleries and VCU events within easy walking or biking distance. Barbara Hartung, president of the Fan District Association, herself a boomer (although she doesn't want to speak for her whole generation), says she sees a lot of people downsizing to smaller homes and that "it's nice not to have to mow the grass."
2. Short Pump
Apartments With Best Amenities
Estates at Horsepen
1 Drayson Way, 288-8820
The Estates at Horsepen has the usual suspects: nice gym, pleasant pool and park access, but that's just the start. This apartment complex hosts a free outdoor concert and monthly cooking demonstrations; its other amenities include a screening room residents can reserve, a conference room, a pool cabana equipped with a bar, an outdoor fireplace and a billiards room with NFL Sunday Ticket on the TV.
2. Gayton Pointe Townhomes, 9712 Tartuffe Drive, 740-1228
Best Place to Go Dancing
1201 E. Cary St., 782-9555
This venerable Shockoe Slip venue is well aware of what it takes to stay viable and popular: "You need to be adaptable and gain new clientele, as well as keep the current customers," says general manager Jeff Hallam. DJ McKenna, who spins in the club, uses house music as his base, but he reads the crowd, deciding whether Top 40, retro or R&B is the flavor of the evening, Hallam adds.
2. (Tie) Blackfinn Restaurant & Saloon, 1001 Haxall Point, 643-3466; Mars Bar Restaurant, 115 N. 18th St., 644-6277
3. (Tie) Richbrau Brewing Company, 1214 E. Cary St., 644-3018; Visions Dance Club, 1021 Koger Center Blvd., 379-3800
Most Neighborly Neighborhood
Fan District Association President Barbara Hartung notes that "the average lot is about 25 feet wide — you can't avoid your neighbors." Add to that the house tours, the Monument Avenue Easter Parade, the biking, the running, the plant watering and the dog walking, and you have quite the friendly community, a substantial feat when you also have a rental population and the occasional challenges of city life.
2. Westover Hills
Best New Community
5000 Old Osborne Turnpike, 222-5011
This East End development has long drawn our readers' interest because of its ambitious goal — bringing residential units and retail together on the banks of the James River. Rocketts Landing's first commercial venue, the Boathouse restaurant (related to the Brandermill eatery), is scheduled to open Labor Day weekend, says Marti Cooke, director of marketing for Rocketts. The 40-slip marina, which opened in April, has proven to be a draw as well.
2. (Tie) Grey Oaks, 12145 Grey Oaks Park Road, 360-8015; Rutland, Route 301, Mechanicsville, 767-1480
Best Condo Living
Vistas on the James
301 Virginia St., 225-8547
The location — proximity to Shockoe restaurants and river views — and impressive amenities have generated plenty of interest in Vistas on the James, but property manager Yogi Singh says "residents make the building special." A Slip resident himself, Singh says the folks who have moved downtown in the past few years are "enthusiastic neighbors with lots of pride. Nine times out of 10, people want to show off where they live."
2. Rocketts Landing, 5000 Old Osborne Turnpike, 222-5011
The Green Scene
Best Organic Grocer
4 N. Thompson St., 359-7525
Though the natural foods store has been around since 1989, people on occasion still ask for Mr. Thompson, says Cyndi Watkins, the company's marketing director. "They'll even say Mr. Thompson told them something. And giving directions is always fun." The store began as the City Market, but a then-12-year-old daughter of a deli employee came up with the obvious name that tells everybody where the store is. The grocer expanded this year and added a coffee shop where the free Wi-Fi has proved popular.
2. Whole Foods, 11173 W. Broad St., 364-4050
3. Trader Joe's, 11331 W. Broad St., 360-4098
Best Eco-Conscious Renovator/Builder
3310 W. Clay St., Suite 100, 353-0491
A basic precept of "green" construction and remodeling is getting the most out of a building that already exists. "It's much more than bamboo floors," explains Cityspace's principal, Blue Crump. "It's about efficiency and indoor air quality. Bamboo floors aren't going to do anything about heating and air going on and off all day long." The company now has a solar-energy component, too.
Best Eco-Friendly Home Accessories
Ten Thousand Villages
3201 W. Cary St., 358-5170
The nonprofit shop of fair-trade items opened in Carytown in 1995 and landed at its present location in 2003. Several groups of visiting artisans have visited the store. "When people actually come and meet the makers and see what we are and who we are and what we're about, their opinions change," says executive director Karin Taylor, who began with the store as a volunteer in 2003. As for the artisans, "They all felt very welcome when they met customers, curious and inquisitive; [it's] really a special thing to know where their products are going."
2. Diversity Thrift, 1407 Sherwood Ave., 353-8890
Best Eco-Conscious Clothing
3125 W. Cary St., 358-0781
Amy McFadden moved here from Ohio in 1998, wanting a fresh start, and she was attracted to Richmond's small-town/big-city qualities. She opened her store in September 2007, without prior retail experience, inspired in part by an event to raise awareness about Darfur. "That spurred me to want to do more socially conscious things," she says. "I was really interested in opening a business. … I really love finding new and innovative eco-friendly products I could bring to Richmond; I'd always had a passion for fashion, jewelry. Now there's bamboo fabric. I wanted to show it wasn't all just crunchy and granola."
Best Hybrid-Vehicle Dealer
9319 W. Broad St., 755-9234
According to Nick Scola, McGeorge's marketing director, the popularity of the Prius at their dealership — with sales coming in right behind the regular Corolla and Camry — is an anomaly among Toyota dealers. Last summer, with gas at close to $4 a gallon, some 7,000 people signed up hoping to win one in McGeorge's giveaway. "But the demand hasn't slacked since then," Scola says. "It's a muscle car of the 21st century." In 2008, McGeorge sold 320 Priuses, 97 Camry hybrids and 39 Highlander hybrids. This summer, Toyota introduced the third-generation Prius, with solar roof panels that power the ventilation system.
2. West Broad Honda, 7014 W. Broad St., 672-1111
3. (Tie) Haley Toyota, 3600 Lonas Parkway, 545-7411; Mechanicsville Toyota, 6546 Mechanicsville Turnpike, 559-8717
Best Eco-Friendly Building/Renovation Supplies
1606 W. Main St., 254-7336
Stephanie and Fred Ackermann didn't intend to open a showroom. "We were going to do a green remodeling business," she says. "There's a wonderful synergy between being green and using local materials," such as the Buckingham slate and Alberene soapstone that are still quarried in Virginia. When consulting with clients, the Ackermanns don't always recommend ripping out and replacing cabinetry and other fixtures if the originals can be improved. "Materials are also recycled through Habitat for Humanity," Stephanie says.
2. Richmond Metropolitan Habitat for Humanity, 1901 Roane St., 228-1305
Best Farmers' Market
17th Street Farmers' Market
17th and Main streets, 646-0477
George Bolos, market manager since October, enjoyed seeing youngsters from Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority communities get their hands dirty this summer creating the Shockoe Neighborhood Community Garden, right behind the market. The 24 raised beds are planted with varieties of fruits, vegetables and herbs that will go to the Central Virginia Food Bank. "The garden has attracted such traffic. We're putting a bench out there so people can sit." The market is the site of year-round events, including the Friday-evening Red, White and Brew; Aug. 1's Shockoe Chef Show-Down; and fall programs culminating with Nov. 7's Brunswick Stew Festival.
2. South of the James Market, Forest Hill Avenue and 42nd Street, themarketumbrella.blogspot.com
3. Tom Leonard's Farmer's Market, 4150 Brookriver Drive, 364-5800