By Hannah Serrano
To say it’s been a tough year for the arts is, of course, a vast understatement. Arts organizations and venues are fighting hard to survive. Some remain shuttered through the fall; some are streaming digital performances in lieu of live, full-scale productions; while others are offering socially distanced in-person experiences.
Certainly we, the public, in turn need the arts more than ever. Engagement with art is clinically proven to reduce stress, depression, anxiety and feelings of loneliness. Art is the mirror we hold up to the world, or our means to escape it, if we prefer; it inspires us and has meaningful conversations with us. It gives us beauty, and as D.H. Lawrence said, “the human soul needs actual beauty more than bread.”
After exactly a year of experiencing very little art in-person, I say we all take in as much as we can (safely) get! Here are over a dozen art events and performances planned for this spring to uplift your spirits and ignite your soul. Check websites for most recent information and safety measures for visiting.
Orchids: Attraction and Deception
Barry Art Museum
Through Aug. 1
The depiction of orchids has perpetuated throughout art history since the times of the ancient Greece and China. But in this exhibition, 10 contemporary artists approach the orchid from different angles, reflecting on issues ranging from climate change to colonization. Timed to coincide with the bloom cycle of many orchids in the Kaplan Conservatory at ODU, the exhibition schedule will include public programming in partnership with the conservatory, the Norfolk Botanical Garden and the Oak Spring Garden Foundation.
Zeiders American Dream Theater
May 27 at 7:30 p.m.
Rolling Stone called EmiSunshine one of “10 New Country Artists You Need to
Know” and “a mind-bogglingly talented adolescent who writes intense Appalachian folk tunes in the Carter Family tradition and sings them with wisdom and ferocity.” If Americana isn’t your jam, check out The Z’s “Tastebreakers” concert series, which features local acts Paper Aliens (funk-rock) to the stage on March 5 and BJ Griffin to the stage. For guests’ safety, The Z has implemented limited, guided seating.
Exhibitions at The Chrysler Museum of Art
Americans in Spain: Painting and Travel, 1820-1920
Through May 16
Edward Steichen: In Exaltation of Flowers
Through May 30
Robert Davis: Home
March 5-July 5
This spring the Chrysler will have a trio of new exhibitions, much to the delight of art-starved patrons. Travel to nineteenth-century Spain with American artists, including Mary Cassatt and John Singer Sargent. Immerse yourself In Exaltation of Flowers, a shimmering, large-scale mural by famed photographer Edward Steichen. And enjoy a blast from the past with nostalgic drawings and sculptures by Robert Davis that harken back to 1970s Norfolk.
Walk on the Wild Side 2021
March 18-April 24
If there’s one thing the pandemic has given many of us, it’s a greater appreciation of nature. From paintings to wood decoy carvings, Walk on the Wild Side features work by Virginia artists in a variety of media that depict the beauty of wildlife.
Together on Stage
March 12, March 26, April 9 at 7 p.m.
Check out live performances by local musicians from the Suffolk Center stage. You can attend in-person along with a limited audience, or from home via live-streaming to Suffolk Center’s Facebook page and Youtube.
Through June 6
Nourish, an entirely unique exhibition concept that will delight foodies and art-lovers alike, will debut newly created artworks by twelve artists inspired by local food experts. Each artist and food expert pair explored the possibilities at the intersection of food and art. (Click here to read an essay by Nourish artist Clayton Singleton.)
Peninsula Community Theater
Streaming on Youtube April 9-25
Written and produced with a special arrangement by local writer Terrance Afer-Anderson, this spiritual warfare drama explores topical themes reflective of the African-American experience.
Celebrate Women’s History Month at this annual juried exhibition that features work from female artists from across the country. An awards ceremony from the show will stream to video via YouTube.
Spring Season at Little Theatre of Virginia Beach
A Simple Romance
March 19-April 4
Songs for a New Day
Lend Me a Tenor
May 14-June 6
The Little Theatre of VB is mounting a full season of productions this spring, including A Simple Romance, a new musical inspired by Shakespeare’s sonnets; Songs for a New Day, an outdoor songfest filled with hope and courage; and Lend Me a Tenor, a Broadway comedy that’ll surely put a smile on your face. If safety restrictions prohibit in-person audiences, these productions will be streamed virtually.
Virginia Arts Festival
Various Shows and Dates
While the Virginia International Tattoo has been postponed until June, festival organizers are determined to put on as many other shows as they feasibly can this spring. “We know there is a hunger in the community for the arts to return,” said Rob Cross, Executive Director of the Virginia Arts Festival. “Artists are also excited about returning to the stage and bringing live performances back to our community. We are working with City leaders, the health department, and our artists on ways to present performances safely under current guidelines in both indoor and outdoor venues.” VAFest.org