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Monument Avenue is back in the news–for the always exciting Ukrop’s 10k (presented by Martins) this past Saturday that featured 80, 000+ feet going forward on 40,000+ competitors–and possibly 1 giant step backward if Art 180’s legally permitted exhibit What Do You Stand For? is bullied off the block by April 6th instead of being allowed to stay through May 4th as agreed to originally. Apparently complaints from a few well-placed Monument Avenue residents, one of whom called Art 180’s vibrant and colorful and moving exhibit disgraceful, have triggered a revocation of their permit. Wow. That guy can’t see the grace in this exhibit for the dis in his own eye.

Monument Avenue has gorgeous architecture along it–including the amazing Branch House, The Virginia Center for Architecture–a wide median with trees, and those durned statues. Those statues are symbols of  a Richmond set in its way, stuck in the past, standing still, looking backward, clinging to an unjust past. I much prefer an avenue with actual people and dogs out there walking and running, doing a yoga flash mob, painting plein air, being enlightened and inspired by the art and words of these young artists. This exhibit,exquisitely well-timed to include the Monument Ave 10k and Easter on Parade, gives the artists taught by Art 180 staff the chance to have their powerful, vibrant, and meaningful art showcased for thousands of people. This is where the new Richmond–artful, creative, vibrant, all-embracing–is on display.

Can you say juxtaposition?

From a Close Up on Monument Ave. on p. 159 in Insiders’ Guide to Richmond–written by yours truly:

“And then there are those six statues, of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, J.E. B. Stuart, Jefferson Davis, Matthew Fontaine Maury, and Arthur Ashe. What started as a way to memorialize the Confederate past while jump-starting development to the west of town  in the late 19th and early 20th centuries took on a life of its own, mythologizing the Lost Cause. For the record, the vast majority of people in and around Richmond do not venerate those dead Confederate guys. We mostly joke about them or ignore them and the no left turn signs at some of their intersections. It is no joke that they represent a painful past that Richmond and the rest of the country is still coming to grips with. They do add focal points and drama to the avenue, and sometimes even a protest or two. In 1968, Helen Marie Taylor took a stand against a paving machine that would have covered the original Belgian blocks on the road. She jump-started the movement to preserve and protect the Avenue’s unique character.”

Protests and advocacy got Arthur Ashe’s statue added in 1996. Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. there’s an art walk scheduled to start at the Lee Monument to celebrate Art 180’s exhibit.

Wow. More of this--not less!

It’s an exciting, art-filled time in Richmond with the G40 murals going up downtown now, the Street Festival mural project coming up April 12-14th and What Do You Stand For? in the middle of Monument Ave. I stand for it staying and for more creative and all-embracing uses of Monument Ave. to make it a place that celebrates all Richmonders. That’s a cause worth fighting for.

Being suspended 25 stories above the ground with just a couple of ropes holding you just might though. I thought I’d let the suspense build here on the blog , but no one seemed to care, so here’s a photo: 

No photoshop here....

Take a look at a post with a photo by my pal Amy Trenz on the web site of Richmond Magazine to find out more of what I was up to on Friday afternoon.

The thought occurred to me just after I did the deed that I had now completed the (just invented by me) River City Triple Play. I’ve rafted the Class IV rapids through downtown Richmond on the beautiful James River, I’ve run (and completed) the SunTrust Richmond Marathon, and I’ve rappelled the second-tallest building in Richmond for Over the Edge. Now it’s quite possible that I’m not the only one who can claim this title, but I’m fairly certain that no one will ever complete the little known Richmond Grand Slam (since I just invented it on Friday, too). Complete the three feats mentioned above AND get your statue on Monument Ave!

I’m back!

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