This post is part of a continued series distinguishing individuals and groups by presenting a DaVinci award or a Velvet Elvis award for their role in promoting Charlottesville as the "cultural and creative capital of Central Virginia".
Elizabeth Breeden has been a poweful cog in the Charlottesville arts wheel for nearly 3 decades. For years, she and her late husband, David, opened their Biscuit Run home to artists and anyone interested in the arts for dinners, gatherings, viewings and just plain old talk. It was a focal point of creative thinking in this town.
Born from some of those hippy-esque gatherings was Art In Place. Art In Place satisfied a citizens’ cry for the promotion of public art in Charlottesville. Elizabeth has been president of the non-profit organization since its inception in 2000.
The primary function of Art In Place has been the selection and placement of numerous large-scale, public art sculptures. Since most of the sites are found on the sides of busy roadways, Art In Place is often referred to as "40 mile an hour art." Although the art gets maximum exposure, viewers get an average of 1.78 seconds to study it, and enjoy it. Better than nothing, I guess.
For me, one of the real beauties of the Art In Place project is that it is "refreshed" on an annual basis. Each year, new work is selected and placed in the set locations throughout the city. So, if you get a little tired of seeing the same stainless-steel towering sculpture on your daily commute to work, fear not, a new one will replace it soon enough (and maybe the next one will be stone or clay or wood).
Recently, Elizabeth was kind enough to invite me to join the panel of jurors for the 2009 version of Art In Place. My first impression was: this is not your normal selection committee. We were a team of eight extremely diverse people charged with selecting the specific pieces to be exhibited. Some had experience in the arts; some didn’t. Some were civic leaders. A couple were there because of their knowledge of landscaping. And a couple… well…. I’m not sure what they brought to the table. Bottom line: Elizabeth did an excellent job of juggling our viewpoints and maintained artistic integrity and civic needs/requirements with the challenges of placing giant sculptural structures. No small feat. And we are all the beneficiaries of her organizational talents and tireless passions for bringing art to otherwise vacant landscapes.
Bravo, Elizabeth, Bravo. For this I award you a DaVinci
(Above photo of Elizabeth by Jen Fariello.)