Art and Madness:)

Lynchburg Virginia is about an hour and a half drive from where we live. My wife has her grandchildren visiting and she found this kid’s play attraction on the internet called “Amazement Square” in Lynchburg that she thought the kids (ages 7 and 11) would enjoy.

Here’s the link:

Its an interactive kid’s museum (in the Waterfront Park area of Lynchburg on the James River) with 4 floors of things for kids to climb and play on and numerous exhibits where they can do things like roll balls down roller-coaster inclines to observe the effects of gravity and momentum, walk around in huge models of the heart & lungs and observe blood flow through simulated veins and arteries, play with little boats in a miniature canal system etc. Plus there’s all sorts of mazes, climbing structures, cargo nets, big pipes to crawl through—the kind of stuff kids ages 4 through 14 enjoy.

The atmosphere in this facility fluctuates between semi-controlled mayhem and chaos—the phrase, “Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war,” comes to mind.

As we pulled into the Waterfront Park area earlier, I’d noticed an art gallery—Riverview ArtSpace—across the street. After about half an hour of shrieking, hyperactive lunacy I excused myself and walked across the street where to the atmosphere was much better suited to an old man’s dog-eared temperament.

The huge old six-story building the ArtSpace was in was formerly a shoe warehouse and there was some sort of manufacturing in the basement. The building super told me it was 105 years old. It has been totally gutted and renovated. On the top story are condos for rent, on the first floor and in the basement are galleries and on the second floor are artist’s studios. The other floors were locked—not sure what was going on there.

Here’s the link is you’re interested:

The building was almost deserted. On the 1st floor I found a lovely lady named Duane—that was her first name—it’s an old family name as in “Fred Duane.”

She was just sitting there in total isolation—the gallery spaces around her contained lots of art—some of it pretty good—but were silent and devoid of people. I had hoped to find artists in their studios on the floor above I could chat with but all doors were locked—nobody home.

I wandered all through the building—got some nice interior shots—spoke to the superintendent—as I mentioned above—who told me about a new show going up in the basement. The image that accompanies this piece was taken on the second floor–it shows a section of the original building that was left in place and the new hallways and rooms built around it.

Down in the basement I found half a dozen young artists (at my age anybody under 50 is young) working on a new, wonderful exhibit of hand made quilts and similar covers—they were constructing triangular frames to hang quilts on out of bamboo. The exhibit opens next Friday—the 6th.

I was able to talk a bit with them—and got some cool shots of the gallery space, one of the displays, and their feet. You may not have been aware of this but feet can be interesting photographic subjects (well—they are to me anyway!)

On the way out I met an old lady (she was so old she was almost as old as me!!) we talked about the building, pets—I showed her the stuff I was shooting on the camera display. She said she had a condo on the top floor—and asked if I’d like to see it—and her 20 pound deaf cat, Lily.

Lily wasn’t interested in another old person hanging around—she ran and hid as fast as an elderly 20 pound cat can run.

The lady, whose name now escapes me, gave me the tour of her place—she was very pleasant and accommodating, smiled and made eye contact a lot—she was showing me the bedroom—which was nice—and I started telling her about how my wife and I were thinking about down-sizing in a few years when all of a sudden she said she had to go—had a cab to catch or something—practically gave me the bum’s rush. Go figure.

Joanie and I had agreed to meet an hour after I left the mayhem—time was up and I walked back across the street. My wife and her grandkids  emerged from the chaos. The kids got some little souvenir from the gift shop and we headed back to Fluvanna County.

Back at home I checked my Fotoblur account—found a lot of very nice condolences and shared stories of old pets and rememberences of pets passed–from a number of very kind people—all of whom also happen to be amazing photographers. People can be pretty nice sometimes—life can be pretty nice sometimes.

Just so long as there’s an easy, pleasant alternative to things like four stories of mayhem.

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