Linkhorne SPARKS Summer Camp: Water Conservation Project

By Stephen Kissel - Education and Media Manager

As part of the ongoing partnership with our SPARKS Digital Media Lab at Riverviews Artspace and the 21st CCLC Program at Linkhorne Elementary School, this summer we created a summer camp in collaboration with Lynchburg Water Resources. Our mission with any class in the lab is to foster new skills among our students and provide access to digital tools they may not have access to otherwise. With this particular project, we expanded even further upon our goal with a focus on activism — more specifically on water conservation and how it affects our community.

Video By Michael Wiggins

Students from Linkhorne Elementary learned about what water conservation is, as well as topics such as how stormwater runoff affects the James River and tips on how they and others can conserve water. Nancy Lilly, Stormwater Outreach Coordinator from Lynchburg Water Resources, came to the class with an EnviroScape to show how pollution from various sources could affect the watershed and ways to prevent it.


Throughout the two-week camp, students were tasked with creating a campaign to raise awareness regarding water conservation and help spread what they learned to family, friends, and their community. Each student worked on their own poster using digital tools (such as Adobe Photoshop), as well as buttons and stickers that could be passed out to others.


A portion of the class was also dedicated to creating a short video as part of the campaign to promote on social media. Jaylin “Jiggy M” Randolph came in for a two day session with the students to teach storyboarding techniques, filming, and editing their footage. The finished video focuses on water pollution and how it can affect the bodies of water in our area and others.


Students: Elaina Baez Amaya Craft Timiya Foster Prime Harvey Evoni Hubbard Ivori Hubbard Cayden Terry Ilona Thornhill

Teachers: Stephen Kissel Nancy Lilly Jaylin "Jiggy M" Randolph Melissa Reynolds

Special Thanks: Lynchburg Water Resources Lynchburg City Schools Sparks Digital Media Art Lab, and Michael Wiggins

Investing in People Who Create

By Anna Burns, Contributor


Art isn’t easy. It doesn’t matter what our discipline is, if we want to create, it won’t be a simple task. It takes time, skill, and persistence. There are no shortcuts during this process. Frustration and self-doubt will visit like old friends, and it can take years before we’re satisfied with our own work. But don’t worry. The best things take time. Every sleepless night, every anxious moment, every Post-It - it’ll all be worth it. I promise. When we see others connect with our work, when we see ourselves in something truly incredible, something that we made - there’ll be no mistake that we’re on the right path.

However, it can take a long time to finish a piece, and it can take a lot out of us. It’s important that we take care of ourselves by investing in our well-being. We shouldn’t worry about whether we’re working “hard enough” or “fast enough.” We aren’t machines or assembly lines - we’re humans. Our value doesn’t depend on our capacity to generate.

It’s difficult to remember this sometimes. When we introduce ourselves to new people, we often discuss what we do for a paycheck. We don’t talk about the things that inspire, frighten, or motivate us. But remember: We’ve been taught this is how it should be. We live in a society that prioritizes speed and quantity and efficiency - it’s all very mechanical. Those who don’t adhere to set standards are left at the wayside, and unfortunately, creative people often fall through the cracks. The annual median pay for artists, as reported by The Bureau of Labor Statistics, is $48,960, with those in the lowest ten percent making $22,020 or less. It seems that, as a group, artists struggle to receive financial support that is proportional to their efforts. Why does this happen? Due to advertising and consumer culture, we’ve developed a tendency to purchase art from corporations rather than individuals in our community.

Accordingly, we have a very troubling expectation of art: We want it to feed us. That is, we try to consume it as if it’s any other commodity as if it’s something simple we can purchase in a convenience store or a drive-thru. Of course, this isn’t the case. Creatives invest massive amounts of time, energy, and money into their work. My sister Victoria is a multimedia artist. Certain pieces in her oeuvre required over 100 hours to create, and in terms of finance, they’re not cheap to produce. To estimate conservatively, a single canvas costs about $20, and paint might be $15 per color. This isn’t limited to the visual realm. From writers to musicians to actors, financial circumstances affect artists of every discipline. Therefore, if we want to “consume” works that aren’t constructed in factories, we should respect the processes that created them. We must invest in our neighbors as we would ourselves.

Luckily, Lynchburg makes this easy for us to do. Riverviews Artspace, among other organizations, focuses on benefitting local creatives. For example, Riverviews’ Emerging Artist Series offers a platform for up-and-coming visual artists, many of which are native to the Lynchburg area. This program allows these individuals to showcase their work in a professional setting while expanding their CV. It also gives them a chance to receive financial support, for they keep seventy percent of the profit for any works sold. When we attend exhibitions like these and purchase art from Riverviews, we become an instrumental force in supporting our friends in the visual arts. Yet Lynchburg provides opportunities to support performing artists as well; Speakertree, the Glass House, and Fifth and Federal often host local musicians. And with respect to the literary arts, the Listening, Inc. and Riverviews’ BeatBurg Program create outlets for poets in the Lynchburg community. Essentially, our city is filled with hardworking, artistic people, and there are numerous ways for us to invest in each other.

“Well, what is it?”: Defining Contemporary Art and Understanding Its Importance

By Anna Burns, Contributor


The world is an ecosystem. Political tensions and alliances, imports and exports, the Internet and mass media - our lives are increasingly intertwined. With each passing day, we become more aware of each other and our stories. These expanding worldviews create a series of contradictions: Certain experiences are universal, but our perspectives are unique. Some of us are privileged while others are marginalized. We’re independent, but we need each other to live and thrive. These are the types of ideas that influence contemporary art, for it reflects the issues and experiences that characterize our environment. When we understand these works, we understand our world.


Contemporary art is hard to define—it offers no clear starting point. Roughly speaking, contemporary art began in the second half of the 20th century, and for this reason, it’s often confused with Modernism and Postmodernism. While art historians struggle to reach a consensus on the matter, the politically and socially-charged events of the 1970s and 1980s provide us with a safe point of origin. Primarily, contemporary art concerns “the now,” meaning current events and those of the recent past. It is art produced in our lifetimes, shaped by the same moments that have shaped all of us.


In addition to modern relevance, a defining feature of contemporary art is eclecticism. In her book Making Contemporary Art: How Today’s Artists Think and Work, the American writer and curator Linda Weintraub describes contemporary art as a discipline in which, “No topic, no medium, no process, no intention, no professional protocols, and no aesthetic principles are exempt.” As a result, there are no definite styles or concepts that it must reflect. And in terms of medium, contemporary art ranges from photography to painting to performance. In other words, it’s as diverse as the people who create it.


Yet contemporary art is also eclectic in terms of theme. It does not limit itself to one issue or concern. Today’s artists are responsible for documenting every aspect of the contemporary experience, meaning works can have social, political, economic, or even ideological implications. For instance, the African-American artist Renee Cox employs photography to examine a multitude of social issues, often using her own body as the subject. Her 2008 series The Discreet Charm of the Bougie follows the journey of a modern, upper-class woman. By examining these images, viewers witness the personal transformation that takes place in Cox’s alter-ego Missy. The series begins as a case study of alienation and depression, but by its resolution, Missy has found self-actualization and enlightenment. The Discreet Charm of the Bougie also combats racist imagery. By placing Missy in a position of wealth, Cox emphasizes how African-American women are capable of achieving financial success, contradicting the stereotypes perpetuated by American media that would suggest otherwise.


With respect to political issues, contemporary art offers no shortage of examples. A particularly charged work is Workers who cannot be paid, remunerated to remain inside cardboard boxes, created by the Spanish artist Santiago Sierra in 2000. This piece reflects the hardships endured by migrant workers in Germany, who cannot be paid due to their status as refugees or asylum-seekers. In an attempt to highlight the ways that Germany demeans immigrants, participants are paid to sit in ragged, homemade cardboard, concealing the upper halves of their bodies. This performative sculpture pushes the limits of what is socially acceptable by exploring how globalization and politics dehumanize migrant workers.


Contemporary art allows us to engage with our world and makes us more cognizant of those around us. By offering relevance, eclecticism, and social analysis, it emphasizes diversity and creativity while examining the current state of our societies. Because of this, contemporary art is a means of fostering human compassion. It helps us understand each other by expanding our social awareness, yielding both sympathy and solidarity. So, if the world is an ecosystem, then contemporary art is a means of comprehending and protecting it.

Food Truck Madness with Sparks and Linkhorne Middle

By Stephen Kissel - Education and Media Manager

This past week, we had the opportunity to bring our SPARKS Media Lab to Linkhorne Middle School on their summer camp food truck project in partnership with other community organizations..

During this week-long session, students worked in groups develop their own branding and truck designs to create a mockup for their new food truck businesses (utilizing the large format printer and vinyl decals in our lab). They will be continuing their work in other classes to create their marketing and even food they would serve with their new business.

We’re always grateful for partnerships like this in our community and thank Linkhorne Middle School again for letting us be a part of this summer’s camp!

To learn more about outreach programs with our SPARKS Digital Media Art Lab, visit our page here or contact our Education and Media Manager.

MT Playground: Interactive Pop-Up Art Show by Michael Twery

MT PLAYGROUND – An interactive glow-in-the-dark installation will open on First Friday, May 3rd, 2019, from 5:30 to 8 pm in Riverviews Artspace’s newly renovated Rosel H. Schewel Theater and Gallery, formally Studio 109.

This exhibition, created by Lynchburg artist Michael Twery will feature a number of original percussion instruments and related artworks that glow-in-the dark. There will be four percussion pieces in the center of the gallery that visitors will be invited to play and interact with. These pieces will be separated from the rest of the artwork which is not interactive by a glowing cordon of giant beads made by Twery’s fifth grade art students from James River Day School, sponsored by the JRDS Parent’s Association.

Around the perimeter of the gallery and hanging from above will be various kinds of percussion instruments, mallets and small glowing works illuminated with blacklights. The installation will also feature Twery’s newest work of small, malleable, slow-motion kinetic sculptures called “glow spores”.

There will be some brief drumming demonstrations on the interactive instruments at the show’s opening by Twery and friends. The show will run from the May 3rd through May 24th. Open hours are Wednesday through Sunday from 12pm to 5pm. Riverviews Artspace’s exhibitions are free and open to the public.

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Contemporary and Traditional Dual Exhibition at Riverviews Artspace

Riverviews Artspace welcomes two artists for a joint show highlighting classical technique in a contemporary interpretation. Kris Rehring and Simeon Youngmann use ambiguous subjects and environments with subtle palette and grayscale to create intimate art pieces. Rehring’s collection of paintings, titled Shift in Perspective, is reminiscent of the works of Edward Hopper, featuring people and places in a more colorful composition. Youngmann’s work hints of symbolism in traditional media, such as graphite, charcoal, and ink. The result is figurative compositions that convey narratives and provoke emotion to suit each of their underlying themes.

The opening reception for this Dual Exhibition of Kris Rehring and Simeon Youngmann will begin at 5:30p.m. on May 3rd as part of the First Friday Open House.  Both artists have been invited to the reception and should give a brief talk about their work at 6:30p.m. that night.  The exhibition will be on view May 3rd through June 20th.  The Craddock-Terry Gallery is free and open to the public Wednesday through Sunday from 12p.m. to 5p.m.

About the Artists:

Kris Rehring has shown her oil paintings across the country in solo and group exhibitions, most recently at the 60th Stockton Art League Juried Exhibition at The Haggin Museum in Stockton, CA and The National Association of Women Artists’ Winter Small Works Juried Exhibition in New York, NY. Working mostly from life, much of her paintings take on the human role in reclaiming neglected space and often feature a human subject in smaller proportion to their environment. Her painting style incorporates layering in a way that build up her detailed figures and backgrounds. 

Simeon Youngmann is an emerging artist who has shown his work in multiple cities in New York. In 2016, he earned his Master of Fine Arts in Painting and Drawing at the State University of New York at Albany. Religious tropes intersect familiar moments of humanity: a haloed figure sends a text message, and a paramedic wears angelic white. Postures of worship and prayer, taken out of context, become commonplace, conflating the sacred and mundane.

Beat Burg Poems and Where to Find Them

When was the last time you encountered poetry in your daily life? It may happens often or maybe once in a while. If you happen to be walking around Downtown Lynchburg this month, keep an eye open for poetry. Literally.

We partnered with local poets and local businesses to spread poetry to everyone for BeatBurg, the Riverviews Artspace way of celebrating National Poetry Month. Whether you are grabbing food or doing some shopping, you’ll find poems at the following locations: 5th St. Grind, Bank of the James,Dublin 3 Coffeehouse, Emerald Stone Grille, Market at Main, MayLynn's Ice Cream Downtown, Mrs. Joy’s Absolutely Fabulous Treats, Oxide Pottery, Riverviews Artspace, Scene 3, Speakertree, TaleTellers Fly Shop, Urbavore, Vector Space, and The Water Dog.

Don’t worry. We made a map.

If that wasn’t inspiring enough, we also teamed up with teachers and educators at R.S. Payne Elementary and Linkhorne Elementary to showcase their students’ poems at Riverviews for the entire month of April.


Behind the Scenes of the Dalí Dinner: Bill Bodine

Video by Michael Wiggins

Behind the scenes with Bill Bodine, actor.

Mr. Bodine is currently preparing for his role as Salvador Dalí and master of ceremony for our special fundraising event, Les Diners by Riverviews: The Dalí Dinner Experience. Bill will co-host the evening with his extraordinary wife, Terry Bodine, who will portray Gala, Dalí's lifelong muse.

Please join us on April 27th in the Craddock-Terry Gallery at 7:30pm. We are grateful for your support. Tickets are available here:

Behind the Scenes of the Dalí Dinner: Pam Winegard

Video by Michael Wiggins

Behind the scenes with Pamela Winegard, artist.

Pamela is currently in pre-production for our special fund raising event, Les Diners By Riverviews: The Dali Dinner Experience.

We were lucky to spend some time with Pamela, who is in the process of making an elaborate unicorn hat for Gala, Dali's wife and lifelong muse. The hat will be worn at the event by our talented host, Terry Bodine, who will portray Gala. Terry's co-host and extraordinary husband, Bill Bodine, will portray Salvador Dalí.

Please join us on April 27th in the Craddock-Terry Gallery at 7:30pm. We are grateful for your support. Tickets are available here: