Saturday, March 23, 2013

Virginia Festival of the Book, Charlottesville

Over the last week the annual Virginia Festival of the Book occupied Charlottesville. Hundreds of well known authors came to town to share their recent publications. On first glance one might think this event to be rather narrowly focused and pertaining to (yawn) subjects. It's quite the opposite and it never disappoints. There were seven FREE presentations that I decided to attend.

Dwarf Daffodil, the Cville City Building, On the Mall
In between the sessions, I found time to shoot SPRING flowering plants around downtown.  Splashes of pink and yellow dotted the medians and coated  flower beds on the UVA Campus and Downtown Mall. You can't miss the blooming Daffodils, Forsythia, and Cherry Trees. But back to books...

McIntire Rd Pink Cherry and Daffodil, we're a Tree City!
The first discussion I decided to attend, was The Enduring Popularity of Bohemianism, brought to life by Bruce Boucher (The UVA Fralin Art Museum) and Michele Krisel (Ash Lawn Opera).  There was no book to purchase but a lively lecture and video of Pavarotti ensued. The explosion of Bohemian was around the 1840's when many films were released featuring a Gypsy heroine living off the land in a fun filled precarious fashion. Many popular operas also take the Bohemian theme and run with it.  The Bohemian Girl and La Boheme sung by Pavarotti were sited as examples.

Daffodil on the UVA Corner at the church.
I attended several "nature" themed sessions.  One very interesting book was written by Jeff McCormack, Bush Medicine of the Bahamas. His book features 120 plants that he documented while living in the Bahamas for 4 years.  Jeff shared that modern medicines were introduced to this area of the Bahamas in the late 1950s and ever since the "old ways" have been dying.  The younger generation is more interested in modern life than learning about plant medicinals (sound familiar?)  Jeff has spent years trying to document and save this history of medicinal plants before all who know about it die. Only 1% of the 250,000 known tropical plant species have been screened for potential pharmaceutical application

Witch Hazel, Small Collections Library 
The recent publication of the nearly 7 lb Flora of Virginia reference book was discussed by Christopher Ludwig and local illustrator Lara Gastinger.  A wonderfully rich book cataloging a whopping 3,200 plants native to Virginia.  It was an 11 year project and no other such book has been created since the 1700s!

Busy intersection at Market St, my abfab city landscaping.

A very interesting discussion was held by author and architect, Lance Hosey about making sustainable architecture aesthetically fit into the environment.  His view is that often there is a disconnect between the environment and the structure, that building design is based on a standard formula rather than looking at nature and the surrounding environment.  He offers a new way of thinking about green building design in his book, The Shape of Green.

Lavender, Small Collections Library
First Light, The fine art of Garden Photography by Stacy Bass was the author I most wanted to hear to learn more about her photography process.  Stacy has photographed nearly 100 private gardens in her career and has created a beautiful book, In the Garden, that shares an intimate look at some of these lovely gardens.  We watched an amazing slide show of her inspiring work and learned more about her technique.

Busy book buying, National Geographic.
I really enjoyed the discussion from two authors, Mark Collins Jenkins and David Braun who have both been or are employed at National Geographic.  Mark has published a fascinating history of the society over its lifetime, National Geographic 125 Years.  A book covering the rich history of birthing a multinational corporation from a Washington based Government Geological Society.  Bringing to light the ups and downs and changes required in order to continue its survival while keeping the old guard satisfied and entertaining the young online reader.  David's book, Tales of the Weird, Unbelievable True Stories holds gripping trivia that has been collected by National Geographic for over a century.  Did you know that by weight, there are more ants in the world than people?

Angel guarding the Rotunda.
A fun discussion from romance writer, Jeaniene Frost and audiobook narrators, Elizabeth Wiley, Andi Arndt, and Anne Flosnik was held to talk about Romance Audiobooks.  It was quite entertaining, learning the process of audiobook making with a bit of spicy on the side.

Speaking of books, don't miss the wonderful semi-annual Friends of the Library Book Sale that begins Easter weekend.


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Crochet Coral Reef Exhibit

Last month, I just happened to be in Roanoke, Virginia and luckily saw the coolest Art Exhibit at the Olin Hall Gallery on the Roanoke College Campus featuring the most colorful array of Crochet Sea Creatures!  The Institute for Figuring out of Los Angeles, CA gets local citizens to create handmade Hyperbolic Coral Reef objects and then they are assembled into art displays.  Each community creates their very own creatures and exhibit.

The premise of the exhibit is to creatively generate community awareness about scientific and environmental matters.  Coral reefs are experiencing severe damage due to man made environmental toxins. To illustrate this, crochet sea creatures and their habitats were created by hundreds of volunteers giving a fascinating look at the beauty of the reef and the devastation that occurs when environmental damage destroys them.  The bright colors in a healthy natural Reef were juxtaposed against the large display of a stark white sick Reef.

The haunting mass of the stone cold white Reef illustrates what happens when pollution takes it's toll.  The life of the Reef is sucked out and replaced with a dead barren floating dead barge.

One display used a sewer pipe as the focal point with crochet sea creatures amassed around the foreign object.  It was the only sound in the exhibit - the sound of constantly running sewage dripping from the pipe.

It was a beautiful and thought provoking exhibit and sadly it has been taken down.  This had to be my favorite exhibit I've ever seen.

Communities can apply to host a project just like this, maybe a gallery in Charlottesville will take it on.


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