Virginia is for (art & French films) lovers

Virginia is for lovers and this month, the Commonwealth wants DC area residents to Like! to LOVE Virginia. Throughout April, people who “like” the Virginia is for Lovers Facebook page will have access to daily travel deals and super savings through the VADeals4DC tab. To spread the love, they’ve also installed a giant LOVE art installation at the DuPont Circle Memorial Fountain. The letters will be displayed through April 8 and everyone is encouraged to take a picture of them or with them and upload them to the facebook page. As part of the promotion, Virginia will also be giving out some Like! to LOVE Virginia t-shirts on April 1st (the location will be announced on Facebook at 3PM Friday).
I got a head start on loving Virginia by visiting its capital, Richmond, last weekend. Located less than a two hour drive away from Washington, D.C., Richmond is a great destination for a one or two days getaway. Richmond has a long and interesting history that includes a stint as the capital of the Confederate States of America. But that’s not what brought me to Richmond this time around. It was art and more specially, Pablo Picasso’s art. My parents and I have always engaged in a lot of cultural traveling. When the largest-ever exhibition of works by Dutch master Vermeer opened in The Hague in 1996 we made a special trip to Holland. The following year we headed to Portugal to be among the first visitors at the new Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. And last year, we managed to put together a quick visit to the new Pompidou Metz Museum a few months after its opening. It’s kinda what I’ve always done so the minute I heard about the Picasso: Masterpieces from Le Musee National Picasso exhibit in Richmond I thought, well, I just have to go. OK, to be fair my first thought was: “why Richmond?” But my second thought was how do I get tickets.


Picasso is taking over the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts from Feb. 19-May 15, 2011


As it turns out, Richmond also happens to be the host of one of the largest French film festival in the US every year meaning that I was able to turn a simple trip to Richmond into a nice cultural getaway! My friends Yasmine, Cecile and I escaped DC as the national marathon runners were just getting started and arrived early enough to grab a quick lunch at Coppola’s Delicatessen, explore the Carytown neighbourhood and catch the noon showing of a very forgetable Sophie Marceau film at the decrepit historical Byrd Theater. We then headed to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts for our 3PM entrance time to the exhibit. Having grown up a few blocks away from the Musée National Picasso in the lovely but old Hotel Salé in the Marais this wasn’t my first time seeing any of the works presented. The avantage of this “small,” selective exhibit was that, unlike at the Paris Museum which is quite extensive, I didn’t feel overwhelmed by the number of paintings to see. With 176 works selected from the Paris museum to travel overseas, I was able to discover or rediscover paintings or even photographs and sculptures that I may have overseen before.

After the exhibit, we took a quick stroll through the museum, which is actually quite impressive for a musée de province, featuring Andy Warhol’s Elvis poster, a Goya, antiques from Egypt and Greece, the largest public Fabergé collection outside of Russia and a waterfall cascading into a pool with a Maillol sculpture. Not bad…

Amuse offers upscale American fare & craft cocktails in an art-lined space

We then headed to Amuse, on the top floor of the Museum for a well deserved treat. We sat in oversized neon green chairs and enjoyed some “Cubist Cocktails” inspired by the modern master. Among the clever creations were a “Guernica” with house made orgeat and Pedro Ximenez Sherry over black cherry and almond milk cubes topped off with sparkling Cava or (pictured below) a “Bleu Period Martini” made with Grey Goose Vodka dirtied with cornichon brine (a nice twist!), shaken and served with blue cheese stuffed olives.

“Drink to me, drink to my health. You know I can’t drink anymore.” ~ Pablo Picasso
Richmond is the exhibit’s second US stop after Seattle, Washington, and its only stop on the East Coast. Its third and final stop will be the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco from June 11 through September 18, 2011. After that, Picasso’s masterpieces will return home to Paris to a newly renovated National Museum. Which of course I will travel to see shortly after it reopens. That’s just what I do 😉

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