Ed Trask, famed Richmond artist and public mural painter, speaks his mind about the recent demise of his Pricess Di mural on the side of Club Velvet.

He’s interviewed in a new free Richmond magazine, Urge: Try Something Different, which “celebrates all that is creative and innovative in the city and region.”

Actually, he and Gordon Stettinius (photographer and adjunct VCU prof) interview each other.  Here’s the excerpt about the Princess Di painting:

Stettinius: Do you like seeing your work get old?
Trask: I adore it. It becomes thematically what I like to look at. Quite often when I put a mural up, I know it’s not going to be there that long. Everybody’s freakin’ out about the “Princess Diana” [mural] being gone and I’m like thank god! When I first put it up there, there was a restaurant and two geourgous [sic] billboards. You’d come off the exit and there was a Marlboro man kinda looking over at Princess Diana. But the billboards came down, a strip club came in, she started fading out, the shadows started coming out more. It gave joy to a lot of people as long as it could but I’m glad it’s gone. It’s time for a rebirth, let’s put something else up there.


Since I posted yesterday about the scheduled shows at the new National Theater, 5 more shows have been listed at

They are:
3/10: Little Feat
03/21: Clutch
03/21: Hex Machine
03/21: Maylene And The Sons Of Disaster
03/21: Murder By Death

It seems the bookings are really picking up steam.  I hope they add some artists I’d like to see…

The first shows have been scheduled for the National, starting in February!  Here’s the lineup so far:

Friday, 2/22:  Dark Star Orchestra
Wed 02/27: Dickey Betts & Great Southern
Sun 03/02: Flogging Molly
Sun 03/09: Three Days Grace
Fri 03/28: Drive-By Truckers

You can keep up with the bookings at

The theater also has a myspace page (with over 500 friends, shows you where I’ve been…)  and now its own webpage (content is still being added).  Thanks to handful of brains to pointing this out.

Paul DiPasquale, sculptor of the Arthur Ashe statue and the “Brave” emerging out of the Diamond, indicates in a interview that he’s working on a new piece of public art.

Here’s the relevant excerpt:

Is there anything you’re currently working on that is destined for public display soon?

I have a thing I’m working that I’m going to get up somewhere, but I don’t know if it will happen in Richmond. What I want to do is make a sculpture out of destroyed handguns. Legal handguns that have been confiscated by the police. I have a number of things in mind. It used to be easier to get those gun parts…I’m working on that right now with the Richmond Police. The proposal I want to do would be making a place where victims of handgun violence would go, but that place would be constructed out of welded together handgun parts.

With the guns for this piece coming from Richmond, and our city desperately needing some healing from the gun violence that’s plagued our city for years, I hope it will be sited here.  I also hope it will be done well.

The interview also answers other mysteries, such as “what’s up with Ashe’s ‘beat-the-children’ pose”?

The Times-Dispatch reports on the CenterStage groundbreaking (which I skipped to see Soulive at Friday Cheers) today, complete with quotes from a business owner who’s switched from opposing the arts center to supporting it. Either no critics were present, or none were interviewed for this article.

In either case, the most articulate criticism of the arts center, including the most recent developments such as Wilder’s volunteer board appointments, is still available over at

Someone recently questioned why I hold onto my reservations about this project, especially considering my interest in celebrating Richmond’s new developments. I do want Richmond to become more “urban,” and I don’t on principle oppose a performing arts center which hosts diverse arts groups and helps reinvigorate downtown. But I’m sick and tired of the behind-closed-doors development deals, the continual shunning of public input, and the wasting of public money on projects that haven’t been rigorously scrutinized. Just take a look at the VAPAF board Wilder just put together to oversee both development and operations. Then try to make the case that things have changed in Richmond from the days of 6th St. Marketplace:

• Thomas F. Farrell II, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Dominion
• Jean Boone, vice president, Richmond Free Press
• Theodore L. Chandler Jr., chairman and chief executive officer, LandAmerica Financial Group
• Joseph C. Farrell, retired chairman and chief operating officer, The Pittston Company
• Michael D. Fraizer, chairman and chief executive officer, Genworth Financial
• William H. Goodwin Jr., president, CCA Industries Inc.
• Robert J. Grey Jr., partner, Hunton & Williams
• Eva Teig Hardy, executive vice president, Dominion
• C.T. Hill, chairman, president and chief executive officer, SunTrust Bank Mid-Atlantic
• Susan Holsworth, research librarian, Afton Chemical Corporation
• John A. Luke Jr., chairman and chief executive officer, MeadWestvaco
• Marvette Monroe, assistant vice-president, First Market Bank
• Michael E. Szymanczyk, chairman and chief executive officer, Philip Morris USA
• Richard E. Toscan, dean, School of Arts, Virginia Commonwealth University
• James E. Ukrop, chairman, First Market Bank

14 out of 15 are corporate; no non-profits are represented and only one has any professional art connection. Color me not impressed.

I sincerely hope that my misgivings are misplaced.

***Update: So a friend who’s experienced in the non-profit world has told me that in non-profit governance, you actually want almost exclusive representation from corporate leaders.  The theory is they’ll make sure that the program folks, who’re actually running the show, have someone with business sense to make sure their “hearts” don’t get ahead of their pocket-books.  In other words, corporate types theoretically make sure that the money they and others are donating to the organization is well managed and spent wisely.  The program folks, in this instance the arts community, should have oversight of the activities of the non-profit.

So maybe my criticism is misplaced here after all when I bashed Wilder for appointing only corporate types to the board.  HOWEVER, I’m still concerned that the previous board was all too happy to spend other people’s money without the type of financial oversight and business scrutiny they’re ostensibly there to provide, and I’ve seen no assurance that this board  will be different.  In fact, that would have been the newsworthy bit- not the names so much as the new philosophy that would guarantee that Wilder and other (former) critics’ questions had been addressed.

Other lingering questions:

  • Boards are supposed to be made up of people financially invested in the project/non-profit they’re overseeing.  How much has this board given of their own money to this project? I don’t know.
  • How many of these folks are recycled from the previous board?  (I can’t find the previous list, as the old website has been taken down).
  • What assurance do we have that the new board will solicit meaningful input from the arts community in the actual operation of the performing arts center?

All input, discussion, and debate on this issue is encouraged.  I’m no expert in issues pertaining to the arts or non-profit management, and I hope I’ve displayed here publicly a willingness to admit when I’m wrong.  So you’re here asked and invited to add your commentary, questions, rants, or whatever!

“In 2009, Richmond will experience something it has never had before – a vibrant center city built around the performing arts.” – from the brand new Richmond Center Stage webpage.

I will leave the commentary on this, ummm, rather bold statement to the capable bloggers who’ve been following this project. Let this serve as my formal request to I’m eagerly awaiting your analysis of this new webpage.

Groundbreaking is set for June 1- with Wilder, Jim Ukrop, Anne Holton, Bio Ritmo, and No BS Brass Band “celebrating” the groundbreaking, then leading a procession to the “First Friday’s District.” The irony is unbelievable. Let’s celebrate this taxpayer boondoggle by visiting the unsubsidized, yet highly successful, grassroots arts community!

So much for my promise to hold off on the commentary.

From the FAQ section on the new webpage:

Q: Why is the groundbreaking connected to First Fridays? Are they related?
A: The timing of the groundbreaking fit
[sic] in wonderfully with what is already happening in the city to promote and celebrate the arts. Venture Richmond and First Fridays are excited to connect the site of Richmond CenterStage™ with the existing downtown art walk. The result will be a great evening to experience the arts in Richmond.

Regarding aesthetics, here’s 2 renderings from the RCS webpage:


The National Folk Festival, which stays in its chosen city for 3 years, will move on after this fall’s festival. Venture Richmond, however, “is currently speaking with potential sponsors about continuing a large, community festival similar to The National.” Read the article for more info.

Venture Richmond hopes to have the same quality musicians and artists involved in the permanent festival.

And finally, they want the public’s help finding a name:

To submit a suggested name, the public is asked to send an email to or simply visit for a direct link. The deadline for submissions is April 29; the new name for Richmond’s own festival will be unveiled in mid-June.

And later today I’ll have some interesting Carytown news to post- stay tuned…

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