ES and Russ Collage

The postcards from Russ started arriving months ago. Addressed to ES, they were handwritten missives about art and painting and life and the possibility of a duo collage exhibition at Les Yeux du Monde, a small gem of a gallery in Charlottesville, VA.

ES and I flew to Charlottesville last Thursday to see a charmingly intimate installation of ES and Russ's recent collages. By happy circumstance, there on the walls interspersed with ES's work, were some of my Paris collages. 

Russ was a student of ES's in those joyous, overwrought days when ES was chair of the art department at University of St. Thomas in the 1970s. Russ went on to teach at Davidson College. Recently retired, Russ moved to Charlottesville and is married to Lyn Bolen Warren, she of Les Yeux du Monde. 

What a good weekend. Two long time friends shared old stories and new paintings. ES and I met Lyn, who in addition to running her gallery, has formed (with Victoria Beck Newman) the Lydia Csato Gasman Archives for Picasso and Modernist Studies. Russ and Lyn live in a hilltop home filled with art and light. The gallery is set just a few yards from their house. Folks may have to have a sharp eye to catch the galley's sign on Wolf Trap Road.

ES and I had never been to Charlottesville or Virginia and just days before we flew, I went on-line to find out more about this city. It's home to the University of Virginia, founded by Thomas Jefferson and then there is Monticello, Jefferson's home and a UNESCO World Heritage site. How did I not know these things about Charlottesville before last week?

Shortly after we arrived in Charlottesville, Russ told us about fantastic Lincoln Perry murals in the lobby of Cabell Hall at the university. Russ and Lyn took us to see the murals on Friday morning and ES and I were bowled over. Contemplated them for almost an hour. 

A visual narrative runs throughout the murals. A red headed heroine is enrolled at the university and gathers strength and experiences on her way to graduation and as Mr. Jefferson said, "nurtured by the man-made is released into whatever is left of nature." 

The murals glow. Light emanates from each of Perry's figures.There are dozens of portraits and narratives about the university. And then there's that dusty rose shrimp color on all the lobby columns and stairways. The space is WARM. I felt as if we had entered another world, a romantic tableau. I began to wonder what it might be like to have a mural or two like these in a home. Almost like living on a mysterious stage set? Might be quite wonderful.

We could have stayed longer and learned more, but we headed for lunch at Hamilton's and yes, I photographed the crab cake I ordered. It was so good and as you can see, picture perfect.

After lunch, Russ drove ES and me to Monticello. It was a short visit, but we walked the grounds. I foresee a return trip in my future. 

We wandered - more specifically I wandered and ES and Russ followed - in the vegetable garden. I photographed fig trees and grape vines, often with that gentle Virginia landscape in the background. With how many things can one be captivated by in one day?

And then suddenly it was time to leave Monticello, so we'd be dressed and ready for the gallery opening at 5:30. Lots of people to meet and talk with, including another fellow from the American Academy in Rome. Sanda Iliescu teaches at the university and shows her work at Les Yeux du Monde.

Wish I had more photos of the opening. Lots of interesting people and conversations. Bowls of chili and a big green salad afterwards. And then to bed. It was a very big day. Thanks to Lyn for making it all happen. A very lovely exhibition. 

And thank you for inviting me to participate with Paris collages. It is fun to see both of our collages mixed together on a wall. Thanks to you, Russ and Lyn for your friendship and hospitality. ES and I had a very good weekend.