The end of March will be a busy time while culture-minded conventioneers flock to the city. Virginia Commonwealth University is host to the Southern Graphics Council Conference March 26 through 29, and sponsoring the French Film Festival at the Byrd Theatre March 28 through 30. Meanwhile, on the other side of town, the pink airport buses pulling up outside the Greater Richmond Convention Center can mean only one thing: the Mary Kay Career Conference 2008.
So the city will be awash with artists, cosmetologists and the French. How should Richmonders act toward our guests as representatives of this great city? Here's your quick guide to identifying the newcomers and interacting properly.
Southern Graphics Council Conference
Description: The biggest printmaking conference in the country attracts students and artists from across the United States, people working in screen-printing, lithography and the digital arts. Additionally, the galleries on Broad and Main streets and in Manchester will have receptions that weekend for their own print-inspired shows.
The people: Printmaking folk are artists but also deal with heavy machinery, poisonous inks and math. So they tend to be nerdy, yet very friendly. Easily startled, so approach carefully -- especially if they're carrying acid.
Useful phrases: "Can I see your portfolio?" "Where is the focus here?" "May I borrow your limestone?" "Yeah, it's nice, but will it look good on a T-shirt?"
Details: Runs March 26 through 29. Events include gallery receptions and a large sale of print works. Visit www.sgc.vcu.edu for more information.
French Film Festival
Description: VCU's 16th annual festival brings about two-dozen feature-length and short films from France, as well as the directors, actors and producers involved in them. Screenings are at the Byrd Theatre through the weekend.
The people: They're French. Fans of fine art that have a strange love of kitsch. They eat rich foods but have low incidence of heart disease. Contrary to popular belief, they're very friendly, though some may be prickly about the recent smoking ban in France.
Useful phrases: "Yes, you can still smoke here." "Are you hungry? We have Thai, Thai and Thai." "The director's oeuvre is so Goddardian."
Details: Runs March 28 through 30. Events include screenings and lectures. Visit www. frenchfilm.vcu.edu for more information.
Mary Kay Career Conference
Description: The 40-year-old cosmetic company ships in a portion of its 1.7 million "Independent Beauty Consultants" for a weekend of sales training, products and floral-scented camaraderie.
The people: Once recognizable for unsubtle color schemes and rose-tinted automobiles, Mary Kay consultants run the gamut of styles now that the company has updated its image and include men in its target audience. Still, there's a lot of pink in Mary Kay's oeuvre.
Useful phrases: "I guess my skin does look a little listless." "Yes, more rouge." "My husband loves your cologne."
Details: Not open to the public, but hang around outside the Convention Center and you might find yourself assaulted by a makeover.