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Bright Shiny Me

For most people, art is something you hang on the wall - but for the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts it’s much, much more.  The Center recently staged a happening at Morven Farm in Charlottesville.

It's a  sprawling estate not far from Monticello - a series of rolling hills and houses donated to the University of Virginia, and this month it became a canvas for an unusual work by Swedish artist Maja Spasova.  Using thousands of small, square mirrors, glued to stems facing the sky, and planted like flowers in the shape of a bigger square - forty by forty feet. It was like an impressionist painting. 

“We have a field covered with 4,500 different nuances of the sky, of the clouds, and everything moves and vibrates with the wind, and with the sound which will come from the 24 loudspeakers. It is alive and vibrates and breathes in and out.”

The sound track was created by Mexico City composer Luis Elario Arevelo, who met Spasova at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts during a fellowship in 2010.  When the center commissioned a work for this year’s fundraiser, Arevelo and Spasova agreed to collaborate on what they called Bright, Shiny Me - a piece about our public face and the deeper, often darker aspects of personality.

“We try to be shiny and bright and beautiful and likable, and there are a lot of emotions which are forbidden - taboo, a lot of ideas it is not so good to talk about.”

About 200 people turned out for the unveiling of the multi-media work - along with thousands of cicadas and an intrepid feline who wandered into the work, arching her back and rubbing against the mirrored elements.

“There’s a cat that appreciates art --good back scratch!”

And the cat was not alone in enjoying this unusual work.  David Baltimore, Alexandria Searls, Curt Peterson, Nancy McAndrew, Tierney Fairchild and Susan Allison were also knocked out.

“It is bright and it brings to mind sort of a spring day.  I found it very claming, very peaceful.  I just thought it felt really good. It seems to float in the air.  It’s almost surreal. There are no clouds in the sky, so you only see a light blue, so the idea of the earth opening up to the sky is what I’m getting right now.  I am just stunned by the enthusiasm and energy and creativity that you can see here.  It’s just beautiful. It keeps changing  The colors in each of these reflexive panels - it changes every few minutes.  It’s delightful!”

So how can you see Bright Shiny Me?  Alas, said VCCA spokesman Lexie Boris, this was a limited engagement.

“This will only be on exhibit for one night - we call it a one-night stand or a midsummer night’s dream, because it will appear for this one evening and disappear the next day.”

Actually, guests were invited to pick a bouquet of mirrors before leaving, but - of course - this artistic happening continues on the wesbsite of the Virginia Center for Creative Arts.

Sandy Hausman is Radio IQ's Charlottesville Bureau Chief
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