Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Via Colori

This past weekend, we checked out the city’s first annual Via Colori street art festival, an event that brought together artists and performers in a weekend devoted to creating chalk artwork on the street. Unlike most art exhibits, this event focuses on the process, with visitors getting to watch the artists in action. With a slate of performers scheduled on two stages throughout two days, including a rock band, jazz trio, acoustic singers, a magician, and the Rappahannock Pops Orchestra, plus a number of food vendors, the festival was a lively celebration of arts in the community. The event was a fundraiser for the Fredericksburg Arts Commission, with donors paying a fee to sponsor an artist’s square.

Featured artist Curtis Goldstein at work on Saturday morning...

and here is his work at the end of the day:

Many artists used a grid system to enlarge their artwork from a small sketch to street-size:

Some artists worked more loosely:

I love this happy cow:

There were several works that included the Rappahannock River train trestle:

Despite a great start on Saturday, the festival was cut short by rain on Sunday morning, and the rest of the event cancelled. But by midday, the sun was shining, so we headed back downtown to see if any of the artists had returned to finish their work. We were happy to find lots of folks walking around looking at the rain-washed, but still visible artwork, and several artists back at work on their squares.

Signature artist Gabriel Pons returned on Sunday to finish his large-scale piece:

I'm sorry the artist didn't get to finish this version of Vermeer's "Girl with a Pearl Earring." It's striking nonetheless.

The rain couldn't diminish the beauty of this piece:

I’m hoping Via Colori catches on, with greater attendance, and more participants and sponsorship each year. I’m also hoping next year brings drier weather.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Into the Woods at Riverside

Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods has been one of my favorite musicals ever since I saw a filmed performance of the Broadway show on public television, and I’ve listened to the Broadway soundtrack dozens of times. So I was thrilled when a friend was cast in a starring role as the witch in Riverside Dinner Theater’s production of the musical, and was excited to see the show last weekend.

The story weaves a number of traditional fairy tales together into a classic quest fable. But it’s not really a children’s story, certainly not appropriate for very young children. After the “happily ever afters” of Act I, the story explores what happens when reality intrudes on the happy endings, wishes that once seemed so simple become complicated, and decisions can have painful consequences.

I thought the Riverside troupe did an amazing job. I have to admit that when I heard the opening notes, the first “Once upon a time” spoken by the narrator, the “I wish...” of the first song, I was delighted, because it matched the soundtrack perfectly. In fact, because Riverside uses recorded music, there’s no slightly amateurish orchestra to distract from the songs. Every singer was first rate...not a weak voice in the bunch. I met up with several friends who’ve seen many Riverside performances, and learned that this isn’t always the case. They all agreed that this show is one of the finest musical productions they’d seen there. Inventive set design and lovely costuming were a bonus.

So if you’ve never been to the Riverside Dinner Theater, this show is the perfect one to try. For me, this was my first return after attending a couple of shows over 10 years ago, and it’s still true that the evening is more theater than dinner, so don’t go expecting a fine dining experience. But while the food is merely adequate, the show is a real treat, and well worth the price of admission. Into the Woods runs through Sept. 19; for ticket info, visit the theater's website.

Photo: Culpeper Star Exponent