Sunday May 15 is the last day for the stunning Picasso exhibition at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts(VFMA) in Richmond, before it closes and re-opens in the de Young Museum in San Francisco on June 11. The VFMA will be open until midnight Friday May 13 and Saturday May 14.
"Masterpieces from the Musee National Picasso, Paris" has been touring only three museums in the U.S. (starting last year in Seattle) while its home museum in Paris is undergoing renovation. The exhibit is singular because it embraces the personal favorites that Picasso kept to shape his own artistic legacy.
Having seen the works in Paris, I found that a new environment provided a fresh way of absorbing them. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, one of the best today in the nation, has expanded dramatically since I lived there in the 1970s -- and the modern new wing is but one example. The deYoung in San Francisco, an exercise both in art and architecture following its post-earthquate reconstruction in Golden Gate Park, will add yet another dimension to the pleasure of experiencing Picasso from June 11 to October 9, 2011.
Curiously I was reminded of my own father's paintings of the era, which I've chronicled in my book about his 1950s watercolors in a Midwestern small town. These two men from vastly different backgrounds were motivated by similar truths but expressed them in wildly different ways -- as I described here after my Richmond visit.
Richmond is a hip Southern city, despite an occasionally overzealous grip on its Confederate roots. Next door to the art museum, you can dive deep into Virginia history -- and in fact much American history -- at the Virginia Historical Society. Under forward-thinking leadership and physical expansion, the museum now promises "cool things inside." It doesn't disappoint on the historical continuum with its faithful rendering of Virginia's contributions to early American history, the Civil War, newspaper and business archives and photographs.
Among my other favorite haunts in Richmond are the always-new ventures in food and wine in some cool spots in the Fan District downtown and the near West End. My friends and I made a repeat visit to Balliceaux in the Fan, not far from these two museums, for an inventive global dining menu -- locally sourced and sustainably farmed products producing plates pulling from Southern cooking, Mediterranean and southern Asia traditions. Check out some of these selections -- crispy brussels sprouts/verbena olives/spiced nuts (appetizer), tandoori fried cauliflower (small plate), seville orange braised pork belly/toasted farro and black garlic/pigeon peas (small plate), potlikker braised catfish with Virginia peanut-cabbage slaw and Chesapeake oyster rice (main dish) and sea salt-grilled farm hen with beluga lentils, lemon cream and Swiss chard. I have to stop writing and go eat!