The Virginian Art Scene

My oldest daughter and I squeezed in one last trip before school started this week. Rules for our trips together are: it has to be someplace neither of us have ever been.

That’s it.

This time we landed in colonial Williamsburg to indulge our inner history nerds. We were not even deterred when we sweat through our clothes in the first ten minutes of our arrival. For us, extreme heat only translates into an excuse to eat ice cream every day. Which we did. We also saw tons of great art! We flew into Norfolk, a town brimming with creativity. On our way to the Neon District (See? Already proving their creativity with a fun name for an Art District!) we discovered the mermaids. They were everywhere! I took pictures of twelve of them, and thought surely we hit every mermaid in the city, but there are over eighty! You can see my compilation on Instagram.

Norfolk is also home to The Chrysler Art Museum, which we did not visit, despite their air conditioning. We only had so much time, you know? And we were chasing the promise of a revolutionary-war cannon ball lodged into a church wall. (Found it! I love that stuff.) We did find our way to the Neon District, where even the benches and sidewalks featured paintings. Some examples:

The next day, we headed to Williamsburg, where I did insist on popping into the museum(s) (there are technically two, but they’re in the same building). Here I discovered an artist I’d never heard of, but truly loved. Mattie Lou O’Kelley grew up on a farm in Georgia, and rural life was a common theme in her paintings. The colors she used were simultaneously energizing and relaxing. They have a pointillism feel, but are really just tiny brush strokes. Aren’t they gorgeous?

In Yorktown we visited the American Revolutionary Museum (does this sound like a nerdy trip? It should. It was.) where there was a replica of Washington Crossing the Delaware. The original painting hangs in The Met, but I revered this one as the real thing. There was a woodcut engraving by Paul Revere of Crispus Attucks’ coffin. (Trivia: Who was Crispus Attucks? See below for answer.) Outside is a bronze, life-size George Washington that I unashamedly got a picture with. He was hot. And not just because of his ambition, success, and dogged determination to survive dysentery. He was hot to the touch. They might consider moving him to a shadier spot.

Everywhere we looked there was great art in Virginia. I went for the history, geeked out over the art! What a win!

Answer: Cripsus Attucks was killed in the Boston Massacre. The information under the engraving read, “Crispus Attucks, a sailor and dockworker of African and Wampanoag Indian descent… resented the presence of British soldiers in the city… Attucks became the first casualty of the American Revolution when he and four other men were killed that evening.”