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By gathering artists of all kinds at his "Studio A" series, Ernie McClintock brings art to life.

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McClintock is, instead, an actor, director, teacher and general mover and shaker who is responsible for a multitude of cultural events. Growing up in Chicago, he loved going to shows at the Regal Theater, but he never dreamed of being onstage himself. Then McClintock's life changed when he saw his first professional play.



"It made life so immediate, to have the actors in front of people," he reflects. "I hadn't realized that. It's not like that in the movies."



He was also struck by the realization that in theater an actor can play anyone. McClintock took off work and saw every play in Chicago for several weeks. Then he took an acting class and knew he would never go back to spinal taps.



McClintock has worked in theater ever since, in Chicago, Boston and New York. Director of the Jazz Actors Theatre in Richmond, he organized Richmond's Black Theatre Festival last year, which staged a dozen different performances in nine days.



But McClintock's vision isn't limited to traditional theatrical productions. He has opened the Walker Gallery for the Creative Arts at 6 E. Broad St., above Artspace gallery. A participant in First Friday/On & Off Broad art walks, the Walker Gallery houses changing exhibits and a small shop. It is also the location of McClintock's latest project, "Studio A," which brings together musicians, poets and writers, actors and, of course, audiences.



"I want to have this place become too small," McClintock says after a recent performance by No Smoking Jazz, which gigs there twice a month. The musicians have just finished packing up, except the drummer and sax player, who gave a private encore for some appreciative audience members. People are drifting out the long way around, looking at the drawings and sculpture on display and chatting with the performers.



McClintock gestures to include the musicians, the artwork, the whole city. "I see this as a concentrated cultural thing," he says. The events he plans for Studio A frequently combine music, readings or staged presentations. He's especially interested in bringing in artists who can "expose the process of learning an art, people who share that with young people."



"We want to be more diverse, with a focus on African-Americans," McClintock says. Ultimately, Studio A is for everyone who values the arts, he asserts. "Any serious artist is a friend of mine."



March's schedule highlights Women's History month, with readings and discussions by female authors every Sunday. Daryl Dance, folklorist and professor of English at the University of Richmond, will read from her books "Shuckin' and Jivin" and "Honey Hush" this Sunday at 6 p.m. Call 648-3530 for a complete schedule of events.

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