Thursday, February 28, 2008

From the Fellows' Council Chair

I hope everyone is having a good, productive winter. Spring is making an occasional appearance at VCCA, or so I’m told. It can’t come soon enough.

By now you have probably received a copy of my letter asking for your support to keep the good coffee flowing, the newspapers delivered and, now, fresh and local food. Our new chef, Rhonda Scovill, is making magic in the kitchen with fresh produce, local eggs, apples and more. (Please read the earlier post about Rhonda.) I hope you will consider a donation – whatever fits your budget – to support Rhonda in her efforts to help the VCCA grow “greener.”

For those who prefer to get their news online – the VCCA now has increased access to the internet: you can now get online in most of the studios, the bedrooms, and of course in the library and living room.

Dorothy is doing well. She is working fewer hours – but, like Robert, is there to greet you with a big smile, and if you’re lucky, a big hug in the morning.

We will soon be asking for nominations for the upcoming election of new members of the Council. If you are interested in putting your name, or the name(s) of other Fellows forward, contact Sheila with a note expressing your interest, along with some biographical info on the person(s).

In addition to the blog that Amy continues to update, take a look at, where you can join two VCCA groups: "VCCA Fellows" and the "Virginia Center for the Creative Arts" group. It's free, fun, and a good place to post info re: upcoming exhibitions, concerts, readings and other events.

Have fun, keep up the good work, and stay in touch….

Karen Bell
VCCA Fellows' Council Chair

Photo by Karen Bell

Monday, February 25, 2008

Three VCCA Fellows are March Book Sense Picks

Check it out! Books by three VCCA writers—Debra Galant, Hillary Jordan and Joshua Kendall—appear on the March 2008 Book Sense list. Book Sense is the trade association for the nation's independent bookstores, and the Book Sense list recommends new titles each month. Bravo!

Scroll down in this blog to read more about Hillary Jordan’s novel Mudbound, which was in its infancy at the VCCA in 2003.

Meanwhile, fast forward to October 2006 when Debra and Josh were in residence, working away on The Man Who Made Lists (Joshua) and Fear and Yoga in New Jersey (Debra).

Sunday, February 24, 2008

VCCA Executive Director Elected to the Virginians for the Arts Foundation Board

The VCCA’s intrepid leader, Suny Monk, has been elected to the board of directors of the Virginians for the Arts Foundaion, a statewide arts advocacy organization established in 1992 and based in Richmond, Va. Suny will serve as vice-president for a three-year term. Congratulations, Suny, and thank you for working so faithfully on behalf of individual artists.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

VCCA Fellow's Novel a Barnes & Noble Discover Pick

Hillary Jordan's debut novel Mudbound has been selected as a Summer 2008 Barnes & Noble Discover Pick, this after winning the 2006 Bellwether Prize for Fiction, awarded biannually to a first literary novel that addresses issues of social justice. Mudbound is one of twelve New Voices for 2008 chosen by Waterstone’s U.K. and a Borders Original Voices selection.

Hillary's one month residency in 2003 was a turning point in the novel's evolution. "I will always think of VCCA as the place where Mudbound became unstuck," she says. "I'd been struggling for a couple of years to move the book forward, and during my residency, I was able to finally figure out where it needed to go. I left with 50 new pages, a renewed sense of purpose and some wonderful memories."

In the winter of 1946, Henry McAllen moves his city-bred wife, Laura, from their comfortable home in Memphis to a remote cotton farm in the Mississippi Delta — a place she finds both foreign and frightening. While Henry works the land he loves, Laura struggles to raise their two young children in a rude shack with no indoor plumbing or electricity, under the eye of her hateful, racist father-in-law. When it rains, the waters rise up and swallow the bridge to town, stranding the family in a sea of mud.

As the McAllans are being tested in every way, two celebrated soldiers of World War II return home to the Delta. Jamie McAllan is everything his older brother Henry is not: charming, handsome, and sensitive to Laura’s plight, but also haunted by his memories of combat. Ronsel Jackson, eldest son of the black sharecroppers who live on the McAllan farm, comes home from fighting the Nazis with the shine of a war hero, only to face far more personal — and dangerous — battles against the ingrained bigotry of his own countrymen. It is the unlikely friendship of these two brothers-in-arms, and the passions they arouse in others, that drive this powerful debut novel.

Hillary grew up in Dallas, Texas and Muskogee, Oklahoma. She received her BA in English and Political Science from Wellesley College and spent fifteen years as a full-time advertising copywriter before starting to write fiction. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University.

She is currently on a nation-wide book tour, with stops in New York, Texas, Illinois and throughout the southeast. For dates and locations visit her website.

Library Journal, Starred Review
"[A] poignant and moving debut novel. . . . Jordan faultlessly portrays the values of the 1940s as she builds to a stunning conclusion. Highly recommended."

Barbara Kingsolver
“This is storytelling at the height of its powers: the ache of wrongs not yet made right, the fierce attendance of history made as real as rain, as true as this minute. Hillary Jordan writes with the force of a Delta storm. Her characters walked straight out of 1940's Mississippi and into the part of my brain where sympathy and anger and love reside, leaving my heart racing. They are with me still.”

Monday, February 11, 2008

Hannah Hanford Joins VCCA Staff

After an extensive, nationwide search for a seasoned development officer to lead the VCCA’s fundraising efforts, we are pleased to welcome Hannah Hanford to Mt. San Angelo. She arrived today in her powder blue VW bug convertible, ready to roll up her sleeves and get to work.

“It was time for a new challenge, for a new direction,” says Hannah, who comes to the VCCA following a 25-year career in health care, including 11 years as the head of the Foundation of CVPH Medical Center in upstate New York. “I am absolutely thrilled to come to this magical, place, to join this extraordinary team. The chance to work on behalf of the world’s best artists, to help sustain the arts. . .it’s a tremendous opportunity and privilege.”

Hannah is very involved in community volunteerism and is an active Rotarian and past Paul Harris Fellow. She earned a bachelor of science degree from Cornell University in 1979.

In her spare time she enjoys being in the wilderness hiking or snowshoeing, gardening, collecting antiques and great artwork of all types and cooking for friends. Hannah’s two sons are both in college, one in New York and one in Colorado. She is settling in to her new home in Amherst with her large, hairy dog and talkative cat. Already, she says, the Blue Ridge Mountains, the sprawling lawns of Mt. San Angelo, and even the resident cows have taken hold of her. “It’s easy to see why our Fellows love the VCCA,” she says. “I look forward to working with them and supporting the organization’s critical mission.”

Photo: VCCA Director of Development Hannah Hanford and four-year old Sage

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Fellow Spotlight: Carlos Ferguson

Sculptor and multimedia artist Carlos Ferguson pulled into the VCCA in a lovingly restored 1962 Airstream trailer, which serves as his home, studio and the location for his film-based, “visual-experience” art--the projection of vintage movies.

While in residence at the VCCA he has been making shoebox-sized dioramas out of cut photographs, balsa wood models, foam and fake grass. The dioramas will be suspended with a pulley system so that the viewer can peek in the lenses on the side of the boxes as well as look directly down into the space from above. The interiors are something like little worlds - a suburban subdivision, for example, with tornado and alien abduction.

Carolos, a native of Iowa, will head south after the VCCA to teach bookmaking at Centre College in Kentucky and then a drawing class at The Studios Key West, before heading north again to Burlington, Vermont to work on his fantasy project. Carlos explains, "I am taking apart another airstream and reconfiguring it as a tiny artist-pod that could be pulled by a regular sized car - if this prototype works well then I will try to make a few and create something like a rolling residency, a performance and spectacle-based group that could tour back roads and put on shows."

Image above: "Flight and salt for the earth," created during Carlos' VCCA residency.

Learn more about Carlos and his work and travels:

Carlos' homepage
Airstream forum

Sunday, February 3, 2008

VCCA Does Superbowl the VCCA Way

By guest blogger and VCCA fellow Debbie Galant

Normally, I'm the kind of person who looks forwarded to the Superbowl as the day when art museums and movie theaters are empty. I'm not a sports fan, though I like the sound of baseball on the radio in the summer, and football is ordinarily my least favorite sport.

My indifference towards the Superbowl is pretty standard for VCCA. Last night when I mentioned it at dinner, I was met by blank stares. Not a surprise: I couldn't sell "The Simpsons" last time I was here, and there was only spotty interest in "The Colbert Report." If you want to be popular in the TV room at VCCA, you probably ought to have a Lina Wertmuller festival.

However, things change. The Giants are in the Superbowl, and in my day job, that's a pretty big deal. I figured this out about three weeks ago when I was in Fitzgeralds 1928 in Glen Ridge, and people were screaming at the television and then there was a really big scream -- we'd just advanced to the playoffs -- and then the owners went around to all the tables and said drinks were on the house.

Long story short, we (I default to the first-person plural when given a new blog to mess up) have come up with a way for the Superbowl to be fun even to the testosterone challenged. Click on the picture above to read the invitation, which calls for the sound on the TV to be off (unless someone wants the sound on), and allows talking and dancing. Everybody can bring their own iPod to contribute music. Chef Rhonda was thrilled that the two huge bags of potato chips she bought on the off-chance anybody cared won't go to waste, and Liz (last name-TK) even donated a big bottle of red wine as she drove off into the Real World. Please join us.

I only have one more thing to say: GO GIANTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!