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With work that varied from lighthearted to charitable, Richmond's visual arts community was busy in 2001.

2001 Arts Awards

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The 1001 Uses for Wicker Award: The art of the internationally-renowned artist Martin Puryear visited Richmond with an exhibition of his beautiful, carefully rendered sculpture at the Virginia Museum. Whether hovering in the air or delicately poised on a platform, Puryear's exquisitely reticent works reveal the often-lost art of quality crafted wood and medium-sensitive objects and design.

The Hook, Line and Sinker Award: The most publicly visible art project of the year was Go Fish!, the four-month-long outdoor public art exhibition that featured over 200 fish sculptures throughout the city. Modeled after Chicago's "Cows on Parade" public art show, the fish drew much attention from locals and visitors alike. Organized by 1708 Gallery, the seemingly endless fish puns, from Rockfish Elvis to the Egyptian Aten-Ra-K-Fish, were a huge success. This project was definitely more than the one that got away.

The Art in the Face of Tragedy Award: 2001 will be indelibly remembered for the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks on the United States. Despite President Bush's urging to carry on as usual, many Americans weren't sure when or how to do that. Richmond responded to the tragedy with benefits, concerts and art sales to help the victims. "Reflections," a benefit exhibit at the Reynolds Gallery, was specifically notable for its wonderful selection of renowned artists' works at discounted and then donated prices.

The "Man, that Guy Sure Can Etch!" Award: The retrospective exhibition of prints by the artist/teacher David Freed was a fabulous compilation of 40 years of technique, master works, and evolution. From his 1960s abstract etchings to the 1990 portraits and intaglio landscapes, Freed demonstrated what a strong work ethic and years of practice could do.

The What to Do on a Friday Night Conundrum Award: First Friday/On & Off Broad debuted in October and highlighted the various galleries and museums along Broad Street and nearby avenues. With street performers, food, drink, lively crowds and ,of course, great art, this art walk offered a culturally viable alternative to a typical Blockbuster night.

The "Why's that Dude Blue?" Award: The Virginia Museum again put Richmond on the map with its incredibly extensive and high quality Indian art collection. Under the rubric "Worlds of Wonder and Desire," this show was meticulously organized and researched by the erudite curator, Joseph Dye. If you don't know why the Hindu god, Krishna, is depicted as bright blue (and further don't know about his numerous sexual escapades), you might want to check out this show before it is taken down in February.



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