Williamsburg & Richmond (part 5)


Richmond banner

[This is part Five of my What To Do in Williamsburg & Richmond Blog for part one go HERE. For part two go HERE. For part three go HERE.  and for part four go HERE.]

Previous tips included:

Williamsburg–

  1. Planning your trip in the Fall or Winter to avoid the heat and crowds.
  2. Staying in a Colonial House.
  3. Engaging with the locals.
  4. Visit the Wren Building
  5. Take the Rubbish, Treasures and Colonial Life Tour & the Behind the Scenes Tour
  6. Visit the De Witt Wallace and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museums
  7. Tour the Governor’s Palace
  8. Tour the Thomas Everard House.
  9. Visit Bassett Hall.
  10. Get spooky with it.
  11. Stop in to see the craftsmen making things with wood.
  12. Get your Ps and Qs in line at the Printers.
  13. Stroll along Duke of Gloucester Street.
  14. Stand witness for the prosecution at the Courthouse.
  15. EAT.

Richmond —

  1. Visit a Civil War museum like the Tredegar Iron Works
  2. Go Shopping in Carytown
  3. Eat at the Can Can Brasserie

———————————————————————————————————–

Today we’ll finish up our tour of Williamsburg and Richmond with a stop at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

The VMFA has an impressive collection of paintings, sculptures, furniture and decorative arts. We particularly enjoyed the American Art with its Mary Cassatt, William Merritt Chase and Robert Henri paintings.

Their collection of Art Nouveau and Art Deco decorative arts is one of the largest collections outside of Paris. It includes a beautiful display of Tiffany lamps.

A Tiffany "Goldfish" lamp on display at the VMFA.

A Tiffany “Goldfish” lamp on display at the VMFA.

The collection of Arts and Craft furniture was really impressive. From Roycroft…

Roycroft bookcase

To Stickley…

Stickley Fall Front Desk

To Frank Lloyd Wright…

Frank Lloyd Wright Chairs and windows

To Greene and Greene Brothers

Greene sideboard

the display was surprising comprehensive. Admission is free to the museum’s permanent exhibits. And the Museum is open 365 days a year starting at 10:00 in the morning.

But the real reason we went to the VMFA was to see the traveling Chihuly “Breathe Art Into Life”  exhibit. The exhibit, which runs thru Feb 10, 2013 is a filled with spectacular light and shapes that defy gravity. And (especially coming from a pallet of muted earth tones in Williamsburg) it was a feast for the eyes.

There are 9 installations in the exhibit (including the giant chandelier that hangs in the atrium. Arrive a little before your entrance time so you can see the PBS film on the artist.

Chihuly boat 1

One of the Float Boats filled with Chihuly’s Fiori. The smooth glass floor reflects the dazzling glass, And you feel like you are walking along the smooth waters of a Venetian Canal.

The first room you enter holds Fiori and Float Boats. The artist was inspired to create Fiori and Float Boats when he was installing Chihuly Over Venice.  There he hung his massive, intricate chandeliers over the Venetian Canals, but he also dropped pieces of into the water. Locals were hired to  collect the floating orbs. When Chihully saw their row boats filled to the brim with his art he had the spark for Fiori and Float Boats. (The image in the RICHMOND banner at the top of the blog is the other Float Boat  in this display.)

You walk under Persian Ceiling. It is lit from above, and this time you get the feeling as if you are walking through the water, in an aquarium of light.

Persian Ceiling consists of over a thousand piece of blown glass

Persian Ceiling consists of over a thousand piece of blown glass

Chihuly layers pieces and nest smaller shapes into larger shapes in his Persian Ceiling. (Detail.)

Chihuly layers pieces and nest smaller shapes into larger shapes in his Persian Ceiling. (Detail.)

Chihuly, a native of Tacoma, Washington, drew inspiration from the “Slumped, sagging forms” [VMFA display card] of Indian baskets he saw on display at a museum for the “glass”  baskets he displayed in his Northwest Room. He also drew from his extensive personal collection of Native American blankets.

Some of Chihuly's blanket collection line the wall of the gallery.

Some of Chihuly’s blanket collection line the wall of the gallery.

A long low table runs the length of the room.

NorthWest table

Do you see the dovetail joining the split in the wood on the left? I loved how that echoed the patterns in the blankets.

And a wall of “baskets” — both the Chihuly glass versions and the traditional woven ones that acted as inspiration — line the other wall.

The glass in this room takes on the color of sand. We have definitely moved to the West.

The glass in this room takes on the color of sand. We have definitely moved to the West.

In Macchia Forrest the artist combines nine giant flower like bowls. Each bowl has thousands of colors.

Just one of the Macchia measures 27" x 38" x 30"

Just one of the Macchia measures 27″ x 38″ x 30″

The central installment in the exhibit is a room size garden of glass called Laguna Torcello. [Think “room” as in the size-of -my-house “room”.]

It is monocromanic at either end, but burst with exotic colors in the middle -- an entire years worth of glass winter, spring summer and fall.

It is monochromatic at either end but burst with exotic colors in the middle — an entire year’s worth of glass — winter, spring summer and fall.

A pink coral-esque structure soars to the ceiling, looking all the world like some Dr. Suessian underwater Christmas Tree.

"Welcome, Christmas! Fah who rahmus!" [The Whoville Christmas Song]

“Welcome, Christmas! Fah who rahmus!” [The Whoville Christmas Song]

A flower of white at one end of the installation. [Detail.]

A “flower” of white at one end of the installation. [Detail.]

This room returns us to “water”. The over 1,500 pieces almost seem to sway in the waves.

Colorful middle portion of Laguna Torcello. [Detail.]

Colorful middle portion of Laguna Torcello. [Detail.]

Chihuly began making Spears (known as Reeds on Logs) in Finland in 1995. The glass reeds are surprisingly strong. He uses salvaged red cedar from his home state for the logs.

Reeds On Logs

Reeds On Logs

Chihuly Breathe Art Into Life is $20 for Adults/$16 for Seniors, students and groups of 10 or more. It is worth every penny.

Chihuly sig

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About ritalovestowrite

Freelance writer, graphic designer, musician, foodie and Jane Austen enthusiast in Northern Baltimore County, Maryland. As a writer I enjoy both fiction and non fiction (food, travel and local interest stories.) As an advocate for the ARTS, one of my biggest passions is helping young people find a voice in all the performing arts. To that end it has been my honor to give one-on-one lessons to elementary, middle and high school students in graphic design and music. And as JANE-O I currently serve as the regional coordinator for JASNA Maryland and am working on a Regency/Federal cooking project. View all posts by ritalovestowrite

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