Follow your arts: A preview of spring's cultural events at VCU in 2014

VCU’s stellar lineup of performances, exhibits and cultural events is just the ticket this spring

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In addition to the VCU School of the Arts, many other programs will be offering enriching cultural events this spring.
Read more:  Spring culture

A young bride facing death uses her wit to postpone tragedy. Hairstylists transform custom canvases — hand-stitched with threads to simulate hair — into braided aesthetics. A wretched nurse lobotomizes her patients. Students translate their emerging voices into movement. And a prince refuses to marry a wealthy young widow whom he once courted when she was penniless.

These are just a smattering of the performances and exhibitions presented by the VCU School of the Arts this spring, representing an impressive  breadth of productions that cover disciplines in both the fine arts and the performing arts. Shows give local art lovers the opportunity to experience the work of emerging and established stars. The prodigious offerings are befitting the top-ranked graduate public arts and design school in the country.

“There is rarely a day when someone from the community couldn’t experience a VCUarts exhibition, see a film, hear a concert, enjoy a dance or theater performance or go to a guest artist lecture,” said Joseph Seipel, dean of the VCU School of the Arts. “From the wildly popular and usually sold-out VCU Fashion Show to Cinematheque, the free art film series presented by the Cinema Program, there is always something amazing to experience here.”

Below is a summary of some of this spring’s arts highlights. To stay up to date on these arts offerings, visit Ester, the VCU School of the Arts’ news and events website —

Anderson Gallery’s winter exhibitions

LaToya Ruby Frazier's photographs will be featured in the Anderson Gallery's winter exhibitions.
LaToya Ruby Frazier's photographs will be featured in the Anderson Gallery's winter exhibitions.

The Anderson Gallery , which is located at 907 ½ W. Franklin St., kicks off the 2014 spring semester with an opening reception for LaToya Ruby Frazier’s “A Haunted Capital” on Jan. 17. The gallery hosts a live conversation with Frazier via remote video from Berlin on Jan. 16 at the Grace Street Theater with curators Dean Daderko from Houston and Anna Stothart from Boston.

“It's the first time we've arranged a public program in this way,” Ashley Kistler, director of the Anderson Gallery, said. “I know the conversation will be scintillating, with plenty of opportunities for questions from our live audience.”

In the photographs, prints and videos featured in the exhibition, Frazier creates an intensely intimate portrayal of her family in which she joins her mother and grandmother in front of the camera, as well as an unflinching depiction of her hometown's decline in the wake of deindustrialization and governmental abandon.

Also opening Jan. 17 is a new installation by Ester Partegàs, assistant professor in the Department of Sculpture + Extended Media. Partegàs addresses themes relating to urban transformation and the experience of place from a conceptual point of view.

“This is a welcome opportunity to spotlight new work by an international artist who is also the most recent arrival in the VCUarts top-ranked sculpture department,” Kistler said.

Partegàs gives a gallery talk on Jan. 29. Both the Frazier and Partegàs exhibitions run through March 9.

For more information about the Anderson Gallery, including its hours, visit


"Hors Satan," a film directed by Bruno Dumon, will play in the VCU Cinematheque series on March 25.
"Hors Satan," a film directed by Bruno Dumon, will play in the VCU Cinematheque series on March 25.

The VCU Cinema Program presents Cinematheque, a weekly selection of world and experimental films presented for free using a state-of-the-art 35 mm projector at the Grace Street Theater. Films are shown most Tuesday nights at 7 p.m., starting on Jan. 28 with a showing of director Max Ophulus’ 1953 film, “The Earrings of Madame De … .”

Selections this spring include works from France, Hong Kong, Finland, Russia, Belgium and the United States.

For a full schedule of films, visit

Community exhibitions
The work of VCU-affiliated artists, including students, faculty and alumni, frequently appears in Richmond-area galleries and museums.

For instance, through April, eight Richmond-based arts and cultural organizations, including the VCU Anderson Gallery, are partnering to facilitate communitywide conversations inspired by their respective exhibitions and programs, and the project, “Race, Place, and Identity: Richmond Organizations Highlight Civil Rights and Social Justice,” will feature two exhibitions by Sonya Clark, chair of the Department of Craft/Material Studies, at local galleries.

Clark aims to break down barriers by crossing boundaries between hair salons and art galleries as sites of aesthetics, craft, skill, improvisation and commerce with the “Hair Craft Project” at 1708 Gallery Feb. 14 – March 8. A concurrent solo show at the Reynolds Gallery features Clark’s sculptural works, which incorporate multiple materials and methods of making that reflect her background in the fiber arts and address themes of identity and heritage. The gallery holds an opening reception for the show on Friday, Feb. 21.

Ester keeps tabs on exhibitions of VCU artists’ work in Richmond and elsewhere.

The Department of Dance and Choreography presents PATH FINDERS, the 2014 Student Concert, on Jan. 24 and 25 at the Grace Street Theater. This professionally produced concert features new work choreographed by VCU Dance majors.

Drawing inspiration from a personal and evolving process of creative exploration, the PATH FINDERS choreographers present a body of work that explores untraversed regions in their artistic development. Each young artist has worked to translate his emerging voice into movement, deepening the understanding of the endless possibilities dance offers for self-expression.

VCU Dance productions continue in February, with the annual VCU Dance NOW concert, featuring new work by faculty and guest artist Nathan Trice on Feb. 20-22.

“The concert unites the rich creative energy of professional choreographers and the high caliber performance skills of our dance majors, offering a gorgeous snapshot of VCU Dance at its best,” said Lea Marshall, interim chair of the Department of Dance and Choreography.


The annual juried fashion show will be held at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts on May 4.
The annual juried fashion show will be held at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts on May 4.

The annual student fashion show, presented by the students in the Department of Fashion Design and Merchandising, will be held on May 4 at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The students will stage two shows that day to accommodate the reliably widespread interest in the event.

This year’s show, which will have the theme of “Impact,” will not only will feature the garments of VCU students but also will include selections of designs from students from VCU in Qatar. The arrangement is part of an international exchange, and VCU students’ work will be shown in the VCU Qatar fashion show in Doha.

The VCU Department of Music sponsors and hosts more than 200 concerts and events on campus and around Richmond each year. Annual standbys include faculty and student recitals, concert series, large group concerts and performances by visiting standout artists. As usual, the spring semester schedule is packed. All performances below will be held at the Sonia Vlahcevic Concert Hall in the Singleton Center for the Performing Arts.

Among the notable visiting artists this spring are the Escher String Quartet with guitarist Jason Vieaux (Feb. 15); Alisa Weilerstein (cello) (March 29); Pamela Frank (violin), Nobuku Imai (viola) and Clemens Hagen (cello) (April 12); and the American String Quartet with Roberto Diaz (viola) and Andres Diaz (cello) (May 3).

Grammy-winning bassist Boris Kozlov will perform with VCU Jazz Orchestra I in its annual concert on April 15.
Grammy-winning bassist Boris Kozlov will perform with VCU Jazz Orchestra I in its annual concert on April 15.

Also coming to campus will be Grammy winner Boris Kozlov, who joins the VCU Jazz Orchestra I for its annual concert April 15.

"Our annual April VCU Jazz Orchestra I concert caps a three-day residency by a visiting artist, in this case two-time Grammy Award-winning bassist, composer and arranger Boris Kozlov,” said Antonio García, director of the VCU Jazz Studies Program. ”It's not only a thrill for the students but an educational milestone when they get to learn side-by-side with someone such as Boris, whose work with the Mingus Big Band, Mingus Dynasty and The Orchestra, as well as leading his own projects, has drawn international acclaim."

The multitude of student performances also includes the Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Feb. 26), VCU Symphony (March 6), Jazz Orchestra II (March 25), the Symphonic Wind Ensemble and University Band Concert (April 9) and the Spring Choral Concert (April 11).

In addition, VCU Opera presents the comedy “The Merry Widow” on April 26 and 27. Premiered in 1905, Lehár’s smash hit operetta entertains with a plot of flirtation, glamour and high finance.

For more information about musical concerts and events, including times and ticket information, visit

Student exhibitions

Students in several School of the Arts M.F.A. programs will present their thesis work during exhibitions at the Depot Building and Anderson Gallery from April 25 to May 18.
Students in several School of the Arts M.F.A. programs will present their thesis work during exhibitions at the Depot Building and Anderson Gallery from April 25 to May 18.

Student exhibitions are a regular feature on campus all year, including in such locations as the first floor gallery of the Fine Arts Building, 1000 W. Broad St. – also a regular host to faculty exhibitions.

Student exhibitions particularly ramp up near the close of the semester with numerous showcases, including departmental exhibitions that can be found on campus and in area galleries.

The largest and most prestigious of the year-ending student shows are the undergraduate juried fine arts, design and kinetic imaging exhibition and the MFA thesis exhibition. This year, for the first time, the exhibitions will be held in both the Anderson Gallery and the Depot Building, a new arts facility located at 814 W. Broad St.  

The undergraduate show, which runs from April 3 to April 20, will feature work selected by juror Denise Markonish, the curator at MASS MoCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art). The MFA show, which runs from April 25 to May 18, presents the thesis work of graduate students in the departments of craft and material studies, interior design, kinetic imaging, painting and printmaking, photography and film, and sculpture and extended media.

Theatre VCU

Theatre VCU reminds us that no matter the cost, one must still struggle against oppression, conformity and totalitarianism, with its production of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” in February.

The powerful and tragic “Cuckoo’s Nest” depicts Randle Patrick McMurphy, a charming rogue who chooses a short sentence in a mental hospital over prison time in this adaptation of Ken Kesey’s 1960 classic anti-establishment novel.

Theatre VCU returns in April with “Arabian Nights,” which magically transports you to the imaginary world of Ali Baba, Sindbad the Sailor, secret sorceresses, singing trees and wise talking birds.

In addition to the mainstage shows, which appear in the Raymond Hodges Theatre of the Singleton Center for the Performing Arts, audiences can find theater students in productions presented in the 150-seat Richard Newdick Theatre in the Shafer Street Playhouse. The student-run productions are created through the Shafer Alliance Laboratory Theatre.

For more on the 2013-14 Theatre VCU season, including schedule and ticket information, visit


VCU Dance feature photo by Sarah Ferguson.

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