Artist Kris Iden’s exhibit “Cadence” at Hollins University

a second, a pearl 2Our talented Adult Education Director Kris Iden is giving a closing lecture for her exhibit “Cadence” at Hollins University’s Eleanor D. Wilson Museum on Thursday, April 17 at 6 p.m. Kris will talk about the ongoing relationship that her work has to science and literature, as well as to the places and landscapes it has been in company with. Congratulations, Kris! More on the exhibit here.


Susie Ganch: TIED + Radical Jewelry Makeover exhibit opening

VISARTS_-5Huge thank you to all the people who made Friday night’s opening of Susie Ganch: TIED + Radical Jewelry Makeover a huge success. We are beyond thrilled to host Susie and so many talented jewelers in our gallery. Special thanks to Image Machine for capturing this memorable event for us. View photos of the event in our Facebook album and be sure to tag yourself and friends.

If you weren’t able to make the exhibit opening, Susie will give an artist talk on Wednesday, April 16 at 7 p.m. at VisArts. We hope to see you there!

VisArts’ staff heads to DC to participate in Arts Advocacy Day

artadvocacyRecently our education associate Ashby Nickerson and outreach coordinator Jordan Roeder traveled to D.C. for Arts Advocacy Day where they learned about national and state arts legislation that affects what we do here at VisArts. They even met a special celebrity. We checked in with them to hear about their time on The Hill.

Q: You both recently took a trip up to DC for Arts Advocacy Day. What was the gathering about?

A: Arts Advocacy Day is put on by Americans For the Arts, which is a nonprofit that advocates for the arts year round, and puts on this conference once a year. The two days in D.C. are basically a place where people working in the arts from all over the country get together to learn about what legislation and discussions could potentially affect the arts — either positively or negatively. And then on the second day, everyone forms teams and visits congressmen to try to gain their support!

Q: Who is involved with the big event?

A: Americans for the Arts is definitely huge. But also, every state (or almost every state) has their own advocacy organization and they often act as state “captains” and they set appointment with their states senators and representatives in advance, get everyone together and give them information that will help them in their appointments on The Hill.

advocaydayQ: What arts issues were brought to the table?

A: There were so many topics of discussion this year. (Read up on some of the key topics, facts and figures here.) Basically, when you get there they give you the equivalent of a text book of information with the current legislation, issue briefs, facts and figures, who votes and how. But, the biggest issues are raising the budget for the National Endowment for the Arts, funding the Arts in Education Program through the U.S. Department of Education, legislation that may effect caps on contributors’ tax dedications, and a bunch of other smaller bills on things like arts in health or arts and public broadcasting.

Q: What did you take away from the gathering for VisArts?

A: We were both there this year to soak up as much information as we could. We are both new to the event but we did have some experience with advocacy in Virginia and I have some background info from my grad school program.  I know that I left with a much better understanding of how the government functions during the budgeting process, and really, how ordinary citizens can get involved to affect change in a positive way. Plus I thought about how important it is for all arts organizations to advocate for themselves — because it really does make a difference.

Q: During your time networking, what art advocates did you meet?

A: We spent a lot of time with other folks from around Virginia — art therapists, folks from Wolf Trap, Fairfax County — so many. We also spent time with the Executive Director of Virginians for the Arts, Justin Laughter, who helped us throughout the process, since we were pretty new to all of it. I was also able to connect with a few people from my program at Goucher College, including the incredible Ramona Baker, who runs that program and is on the board for Americans for the Arts. Ashby and I connected with Robert Bettman, who runs DC Advocates for the Arts.

Q: I also heard you all met a special celebrity patron of the arts. 

A: YES — I don’t know if meet counts, but I was very close to (and took many pictures of) Alec Baldwin.  I had always loved him from SNL and 30 Rock, but had never known how much of an advocate he is for the arts. He sits in on budget negotiations for the NEA, travels and speaks on behalf of the arts, and gives a ton of his own money. He is just as dashing and charming in real life as you could imagine.alec baldwin

Designer Eileen Fisher + Saks Fifth Avenue support VisArts

eileen3A few weeks ago — the day of Collectors’ Night to be exact — Saks Fifth Avenue hosted a fashion event with designer Eileen Fisher and part of the proceeds went to VisArts’ outreach programs.

Girls from our SOHO (Space Of Her Own) program helped out at the event and display their artwork.

In the end, Saks ended up donating 10 percent of event sales up to $3,000 to VisArts and Eileen Fisher donated 5 percent of event sales to our SOHO program. Special thank you to Saks Fifth Avenue and Eileen Fisher for their generosity and giving life to our outreach programs.

To learn more about SOHO, click here.


Collectors’ Night 2014 was a success


On March 22nd, Visual Arts Center of Richmond held its annual fundraising auction in support of arts education for children, adults and seniors throughout our region. The event not only rang in the upcoming half-century for VisArts, but was the best Collectors’ Night event ever, bringing in $207,000 in revenue for the organization.

The theme of this year’s event was Make Your Mark, and did we ever! An exciting assemblage of artwork, artists and supporters gathered for a lively celebration of creativity and community.

Our very sincere gratitude to everyone who contributed whether it was by buying tickets or artwork, volunteering, donating artwork and packages, or sponsoring Collectors’ Night. So many people Made Their Mark by working tirelessly and donating generously to ensure the success of our event. It’s an honor to thank these remarkable individuals, businesses and groups:

  • Our amazing volunteer army of more than 30 people just for this event alone, led by the energy and skill of Parks Daniel
  • More than 175 incredible artists who generously donated a portion or all of the proceeds from the sale of some of their best work
  • Hard-working, seriously dedicated Collectors’ Night Committee members, led by Kathryn Gray, Chair
  • An  exceptional group of guest curators: Jill and Monroe Harris, Ginny and Andy Lewis, Alex Nyerges, Pam and Bill Royall, and Dawn and Stuart Siegel
  • Our big-hearted, generous Board of Directors
  • Dominion, our title sponsor, a strong supporter of VisArts year round, partner and friend
  • Reception sponsor, McGuireWoods, true supporters
  • Cupcakes and dessert sponsored by Schwarzschild Jewelers — yum!
  • Music and entertainment brought to us by the incredible Carter and Joe Reid
  • Distinguished Service Award sponsorship by the awesome Mosmans, Jenna and Don
  • There was no need to park and walk — valet parking was sponsored by Davenport and Co. LLC
  • New bigger tent because we just have that many people we love and need to invite, sponsored by Party Perfect
  • Ambiance, style, funky and festive sponsored by MOSAIC — you guys set the mood!
  • Gift bags sponsored by Saks Fifth Avenue gave us a touch of class
  • The incomparable photographer KC Johnson from Image Machine, lending her skill, artistry, and loving support to the event
  • Saks Fifth Avenue and Eileen Fisher New York who went the extra mile to support an event for our SOHO girls on the same day as Collectors’ Night
  • 40 tables full of sponsors, bidding and cheering us on

Finally, my sincerest thanks go to VisArts’ staff for knocking it out of the park one more time, pulling off a remarkable win, and working as an amazing team! I am honored and proud of all that you do!

Sincerest gratitude,

Ava Spece

President and CEO

P.S. Take a moment to check out Image Machine’s amazing photos of Collectors’ Night on our Facebook Page! (And please tag yourself and your friends!)

Susie Ganch: TIED + Radical Jewelry Makeover

This comprehensive exhibition ties together the multifaceted career and work of Susie Ganch, Assistant Professor at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and Director of Radical Jewelry Makeover. An accomplished jeweler and sculptor, Ganch has staked a unique career with trifold contributions to the field of craft. As a university educator, she trains the next generation of jewelers and metalsmiths; as a practicing artist, she pushes the boundaries of jewelry and sculpture through material, design and function; as a director of the Radical Jewelry Makeover project, she creates community events that encourage our consideration of the social and environmental impacts of mining and jewelry production through the creation of innovative jewelry made from recycled sources.

Susie Ganch, Drag (with detail)Susie Ganch: TIED includes two galleries of Ganch’s independent work and one gallery devoted to her collaborative project, Radical Jewelry Makeover (RJM).  This RJM installation includes work by 22 well-known jewelers from across the United States who participated in previous RJM events as well as jewelry made by regional RJM artists, local VCU students and students from Winthrop University.

Susie Ganch, PileAs an outreach program of the nonprofit Ethical Metalsmiths, Radical Jewelry Makeover (RJM) is an innovative community-mining project that raises awareness of the connection between mining, metalsmithing, activism, collaboration and art. The project is both performance and event, linking recycling, reuse and collaborative work sessions with the creation of unique, innovative, handmade jewelry.

The exhibit opens April 4 at our True F. Luck Gallery. More on the exhibit here.

To learn more about RJM and the artists involved in this exhibition, visit and

David Tanner lauded for oil paintings

david tanner paintingsArtist and VisArts oil painting instructor David Tanner recently had two paintings that were finalists in national painting competitions.  “Boy With Mandolin” (oil, 30 x 15, 2013) was chosen by juror M. Stephen Doherty (editor in chief of PleinAir Magazine) as a Finalist in the January 2014 Raymar Art Painting Competition. The painting is eligible for year-end judging in the annual competition. “The Red Bandana” (oil, 16 x 12, 2013) was selected as part of the “FAV 15%”  (jury’s favorite 15 percent of the entries) in the January 2014 BoldBrush painting competition. Congratulations, David! Our students are lucky to have you as an instructor here at VisArts.