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".
The history books refer to Leonardo DaVinci as the original Renaissance man. He experimented in many artistic, creative and scientific disciplines and set new standards of excellence in each. Since arriving in Charlottesville, Rob Tarbell has proven to be a modern day Renaissance man. Seems fitting that Rob receive a DaVinci award.
Rob has made his presence in the Charlottesville art scene known with gusto during 2008. Seems you can’t turn around without running into his work. Whether driving down 250 racing past his masterfully whimsical metal sculpture "A Bad Case of the Mondays" (pictured left), or his fantastical porcelain dipped stuffed animal collection exhibited at Second Street Gallery last February (any regular gallery-goer totally screwed up if they missed that one), or his magically delicate smoke drawings at Les Yeux du Monde in April (pictured below), or, most recently, his curated show "The Others" at PVCC’s Dickinson Building.
In Rob’s words:
In my practice, making art is as much directing intent as it is about scientific tinkering. All of my diverse work is linked by the transformation and manipulation of traditional materials and the exploration of non-traditional ones. The loss of an original and the use of elaborate processes are inherent to the creation of the smokes, paintings, and porcelain series. The work intends to both balance accident with control and give permanence to the ephemeral.
In the visual arts world, artists must walk a thin line between exposure and over-exposed. Crowds can be fickle. One day they love an artist’s work; but after they have seen it a couple of times, they tend to give it a luke-warm reception. Rob Tarbell, however, stands far from the risk of over-exposure. His mastery of each diverse project keeps his work fresh, hot, and pushes into the realm of "important". For the past year, he has been giving Charlottesville a top-of-the-line one-man-show. Rob is raising the bar of artistic excellence in Charlottesville, and we are all benefiting from it. I consider Charlottesville fortunate to have him here and even more fortunate that he continues to be prolific pumping out great work both in front of the curtain and behind it.
SCORECARD, thus far:
DaVinci – Beryl Solla
Velvet Elvis – University of Virginia Art Museum
DaVinci – Elizabeth Breeden
Velvet Elvis – Charlottesville City Council