by Karen Newton
Pop-up art shows are nothing new, but hanging one in a recently renovated house about to hit the market may just be a Richmond first.
Curated by artist and freelance curator Mary Fleming, "Grouped: Art Show" opened Thursday night at a midcentury modern house in Forest View Heights, with DJ Marty Key spinning vintage R&B 45s on a vintage Latec double turntable and an astounding 86 pieces of local art on display.
Represented in the show are local artists of all stripes, including eight colorful pieces by well-known muralist Mickael Broth, Adam Juresko’s familiar yet more refined collages and James Callahan’s distinctive Barf comic stylings. Fleming was familiar with all the artists before inviting them to participate, but she also encouraged them to work outside their comfort zones, in some cases by creating larger work than they typically would.
Prints, photographs, sculpture, neon, drawings, ceramics, wall hangings, paintings and even bird feeders line the walls of the three-bedroom 1955 house painstakingly restored by owner Casey Smith. Thomas Burkett’s large-scale bird feeders, looking like vibrantly painted rectangles with small wire boxes to hold seed, have hollow backsides for refilling seed and can be hung outdoors, but look stylishly at home on interior walls, too.
“I wanted to keep the focus mixed and fill the walls as intensely and densely as possible,” Fleming says of trying to have fun and be playful about choosing the art for the house. “I love the installation part of curating, creating groups within groups on the walls.”
Part of her inspiration for setting up the show was a desire to attract people who may not feel comfortable in traditional art gallery settings but could be seduced by the unique.
Leigh Suggs’ “Blue Sculpture” is composed of five pieces of steel shaped into geometric forms and wrapped in hand-dyed blue wool, but its beauty is how the five pieces can be reconfigured to make shapes of varying heights.
“It was fun to work in this construct because it’s a different way to make people a little more understanding of art’s role in their lives,” she explains. “This show makes people realize that art can live in everyone’s house.”
Best of all, the art remains up through this weekend’s open house, allowing prospective homeowners and art lovers alike to stop by and see how a house staged with art comes alive. Every piece is available for sale and several sold at the opening, but they’ll remain on the walls through the open house while the rest are still up for grabs.
“I like to support local artists, plus I’m showing that art is everywhere and everything,” she says. “Hopefully this is a way people can see that.”
And if the art isn’t enough to capture a buyer’s interest, owner Smith isn’t worried about it. “If it doesn’t sell, I’ll be glad to move in here.”
“Grouped: Art Show” open house, 708 Byswick Lane, Jan. 22, 1-3 p.m.