After being a slack art-citizen for a while, I'm trying to at least see and briefly comment on everything I can see here in C'ville. So there's two more places to mention, The McGuffey and The Bridge:
At the McGuffey there's a big watercolor show - nice, tame, not too great. There's also crazy drawings and ceramics from Robert E. Bricker. While a little too illustration-y, they have a great puzzle feel, a complicated and jigsaw effect. Weird stories inside stories. The mcguffey frequently has half-baked shows*, so this one is really good for them.
The Bridge, which I haven't been by in a long time, has a great group show up, Fuzz. There's a whole calendar of events, from a piñata making workshop to a drawing/zine party. The drawing thing was last Thursday and I stopped by and drew with strangers and saw the show with one of the curators. It's mostly young artists, some still undergrads at UVa (there's also an 80-year-old guy in this show).
I liked the show, it's full of well-made and interesting things with a real strong homespun and DIY aesthetic, one that's around a lot in the art world now. Other than that I went away thinking 2 things - first that this aesthetic is pretty powerful when it shows up even here - and being done well here - the curator I spoke to (Patrick, didn't get a last name) had a great cartoony sewn piece that looked clean, collagy and cartoony.
The second thing I thought was - Ahhh, these guys are me 10 years ago. I have a neighbor who's an undergrad art student, but she isn't really involved and is kind of distracted and not super-motivated. These guys though remind me of me and my friends in school - scheming, plotting and making things constantly. When they sit around on a Thursday night drawing, that's something. I'm glad to find this roots-level art thing happening, one that feels more comfortable to me than some of the clean white walls at some of the other places, though I realize I'm not 25 anymore, and I may end up being the weird old creep if I hang out there.
PS Sean did a puppet show at Fuzz last Sunday but we couldn't make it....His aesthetic - DIY, homespun, but consciously art-world savvy and very beautiful - fits really well with the rest of the show.
* I should mention that I think they see their mission as showing whoever's making work, not being aggressively critical in their curatorial choices. At least it seems that way - that they provide some kind of public service, though I think the public would be better served by tougher standards.