Dramatic dresses float beneath a skylight while dramatic portraits challenge the viewer in two exhibitions newly opened at the Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke.
For the next two years, the museum’s sunlit atrium will be the home for eight works from New York artist E.V. Day’s “Divas Ascending,” in which she took costumes from the wardrobe of the New York City Opera and turned them into sculptures that evoke the iconic roles for women that they were tailor-made for.
These dresses hang suspended from monofilament wires, accompanied by objects that further suggest the characters they represent. For example, “Carmen,” inspired by the tragic heroine from French composer Georges Bizet’s opera of the same name, comes with roses and a prop knife.
If this show rings any bells in the minds of local art aficionados with long memories, it’s because Day and her dresses came to Roanoke College in 2015 for a show in Olin Hall Galleries. The literally lofty Taubman display includes more of the dresses than the Olin Hall exhibition, though still not the full 13.
I have a confession: When I traveled to Manhattan in 2009 as a recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts to take part in the Arts Journalism Institute in Classical Music and Opera, I saw the original “Divas Ascending” show at the New York City Opera, and it’s a personal favorite of mine, so I’m glad the valley gets another chance to experience it.
Vantage Points: Contemporary Photography
The Taubman is also hosting a traveling exhibition, “Vantage Points: Contemporary Photography from the Whitney Museum of American Art,” until Oct. 10.
“The installation turned out really beautiful for this set of works,” said Karl Willers, the Taubman’s chief curator.
Spanning the 1970s through the 2000s, and including pieces from internationally acclaimed American photographers such as Diane Arbus, Robert Mapplethorpe, Andy Warhol, Cindy Sherman, Carrie Mae Weems and Lexington artist Sally Mann, “Vantage Points” showcases the wide range of methods and approaches to subject matter that the medium allows.
The exhibition come from the Whitney Museum’s Emily Fisher Landau Collection. When Landau, a New York philanthropist and longtime Whitney Museum trustee, pledged 367 artworks worth more than $50 million to the Whitney in 2010, there was a stipulation that the museum had to use those works for traveling shows, Willers said.
Both of these new exhibitions demonstrate how the involvement of Roanoke College alumna Joanne Leonhardt Cassullo continues to yield dividends for the Taubman. A member of the Roanoke museum’s board of trustees, Cassullo also serves as secretary of the board of trustees for the Whitney Museum, and she knows Day personally.
Not to mention, Willers, who joined the Taubman crew in November, once worked for the Whitney Museum, and was introduced to Taubman Executive Director Cindy Petersen through Cassullo.
Photography workshop for students
In junction with the Whitney Museum show and a traveling exhibition of Ansel Adams photos that closes Sunday, the Taubman organized a week-long photography workshop for Roanoke and Roanoke County high school students. “It was an immersion experience in photography,” Petersen said.
Led by instructor Kristi Woods, the students spent time not just with accomplished regional artists like Sam Krisch and Robert Sulkin, but also with Brooklyn-born photographer Gregory Crewdson, who has work included in “Vantage Points.”
The show of student works, “Capture, Create, Share,” is on display in the museum’s first-floor gift shop through Aug. 29.
The Hahn Horticulture Garden at Virginia Tech will hold the opening reception for the exhibition of outdoor art installations “Simply Elemental: Art in the Garden 2021” from 4-6 p.m. Sunday. The reception will feature a poetry reading and music from guitarist Renate Kehlenbeck and harpist Julia Fallon.
At 5 p.m. organizers will present the first ever 2021 Simply Elemental Outdoor Sculpture Award, sponsored by the Blacksburg Regional Art Association. For more information visit www.hahngarden.vt.edu/elemental/.
See the wizard at Elmwood
Friday through Sunday in Roanoke, the yellow brick road leads to Elmwood Park, where Virginia Children’s Theatre will present an outdoor concert featuring songs from Land of Oz-themed Broadway and movie musicals such as “The Wizard of Oz,” “Wicked” and “The Wiz.”
Performances of “Oz: A Staged Musical” take place at 6 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $15, children ages 12 and under $10. For more information visit virginiachildrenstheatre.org/tickets.html.
Carilion calls for artists
Saturday is the final day to apply for the latest artist-in-residence position at Carilion Clinic in Roanoke. Established in 2013, the artist residency is part of Carilion’s Dr. Robert L.A. Keeley Healing Arts Program. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.