The 19th Annual French Film Festival is slated for Carytown's Historic Byrd Theatre from March 24 through March 27. All films will have English subtitles and will be presented by their actors and directors. Screenings will feature several feature films and a series of independent French short films. The official reception will be held on Saturday evening, March 26, at Virginia Commonwealth University's Scott House at 909 West Franklin Street. VIP passes (for $115) include guaranteed seating at all screenings and Q&A sessions with the actors and directors. There is a $25 add on cost per pass for admission to the official Saturday evening reception with actors and directors. Tickets will be available at the box office for each film thirty minutes before each screening for $15. Maury Place at Monument would be the perfect place to stay for the festival as the Byrd Theatre in Carytown is within walking distance of our front door! Tres bien!
Mac and I took some time last week to explore Richmond ourselves--as tourists! We had dinner one night at Lemaire, which we confirmed remains one of our Richmond's top restaurants. We happened to see a well known antique furniture expert from PBS's Antiques Road Show (one of Jeff's favorites!) at the table next to ours, so that was fun!
The next day, we visited the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and its current blockbuster exhibit, Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musee National Picasso, Paris. It was well worth a second, more leisurely look with the audio guide (which may be downloaded to your i-pod for free from the VMFA's website!) We remain a little dismayed that the only sure way we could purchase tickets for the exhibit was at the VMFA itself. We were unsuccessful in purchasing tickets either by phone or online. Hopefully, the VMFA staff is working that out. We had a very enjoyable lunch at the VMFA's Best Cafe after taking in the exhibit, and then ventured across the campus to the Virginia Historical Society. There, we took in their exhibit, An American Turning Point: The Civil War in Virginia. It was a fascinating (and free!) exhibit on how the Civil War affected every strata of Virginia society. We appreciated both the artifacts on display and the multi-media presentations on various aspects of the war.
On Day Two, we visited The American Civil War Center at Tredegar. What a magnificent location in the old munitions factory right on the river! There, we again marveled at seeing actual artifacts such as clothing, uniforms, letters, and other memorabilia from the Civil War. The permanent exhibit was a comprehensive explication of the Civil War from the point of view of the South, the North, and slaves. We then walked along the Canal Walk to Shockoe Bottom and had lunch at one of our favorite Richmond institutions, Bottoms Up Pizza! One hearty slice for each of us was good and plenty! Mine had a white sauce and crabmeat. Mac created his own with chicken and broccoli. From Bottom's Up, we walked through Shockoe Slip up to the State Capitol grounds and had a private tour of our Virginia State Capitol--the second oldest state capitol in continuous use in our country. We had seen the building upon which Jefferson based his design in Nimes, France, a few years ago. It was fun to see each of our legislative bodies actually in session in such a historic building. The new Capitol Visitor's Center is extremely well done. You would never know that you are entering the Capitol complex from underground. We especially enjoyed the statuary of George Washington, busts of each President who was born in Virginia, and a bust of Matthew Fontaine Maury--for whom Maury Place is named. There is an excellent shop featuring Virginia products and gifts. We purchased a new Virginia State flag to display at Maury Place.
After some R&R, we had a pre-theatre dinner at one of our in-town favorite restaurants, Avenue 805. It was a rainy night, so it was nice to have a leisurely meal in such a cozy spot! Mac had his favorite, "Chicken 805," and I had one of my favorite selections, farfalle pasta with a creamy pesto sauce with grilled chicken. The staff waited on us efficiently and promptly so we could make it back down Broad Street to see Dog Sees God at the Firehouse Theatre. This play is one that is being performed as part of Richmond's Acts of Faith Festival. Mac and I are still discussing the implications of the show. It was entertaining and thought-provoking. We have enjoyed many other such "edgy" works at the Firehouse before. We then returned home so proud and pleased that we live in such a great city with so much to offer for historical, cultural, and culinary enRICHment!
We have had another full house weekend at Maury Place, and every guest visited the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to see Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musee Naional Picasso, Paris! The exhibit opened on February 19 and runs through May 15, 2011. Mac and I went to a preview event on Thursday morning, and were wowed by both the art and the magnificent way it is curated and displayed. There are a total of eleven galleries displaying 172 Picasso works in virtually every media. Every period of Picasso's long career is covered, and we especially enjoyed the Picasso quotation near the ceiling of each gallery that set the tone or provided a framework for the art exhibited in that particular space. Separate tickets are required for the exhibit and may be purchased on line or at the VMFA. We are definitely going back for a second viewing--if not a third!!
There is also a new free bus service that runs daily between the VMFA and other sites in Richmond on Saturdays. "To the Bottom and Back" or "2BNB" is running a new route called "To the Museums and Back" just during the time period of this exhibit. Visitors to the VMFA will be able to hop on a bus to other museums in town. The 50-minute loop will stop approximately every half hour every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 2BNB estimates that a bus will circulate every 30 minutes at the VMFA.
After a very busy Valentine's Day weekend, Mac and I had some free time this afternoon to enjoy what our neighborhood has to offer ourselves! We first had lunch at one of our favorite restaurants, Can Can, in Carytown. Their salad nicoise is one of my favorite lunches EVER! We then decided to go to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to take in their latest exhibit, "Dynasty and Divinity: Ife Art in Ancient Nigeria." The exhibit features objects dating from the 12th to 15th centuries made by the Yoruba people of Ife in ancient Africa. They are from the nation now known as Nigeria. Most impressive were the huge metal cast statues and heads--all done with incredible detail. In addition to works in copper and other metals, there were works in stone and clay along with royal jewelry and other religious objects. The ancient art reflects the sacred traditions of the Yoruba people and their beliefs about life and death and heaven and earth. Many of the objects were found simply by chance in the early 20th century. Some were found buried in the ground in 1938, when workers digging foundations for new buildings in Ife hit hard objects in the soil that turned out to be very old and very valuable works of art! One 12th to 15th century terra cotta head was discovered in 1967 lying on the side of the road by twin brothers. It had been washed up from the earth by rain! This is the first time these objects have traveled from their home in West Africa. It is definitely a "must see"! The exhibit runs from February 12 through May 22, 2011. Separate tickets are required and may be purchased at the front desk of the museum or online. Tomorrow morning, Mac and I will be attending a special preview of the VMFA's "Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musee National Picasso, Paris." That special exhibit will be the subject for another blog!
We are always trying to think of special amenities to enhance the Maury Place Experience for our guests, and we frequently get ideas from attending the conferences of the Professional Association of Innkeepers or the Virginia Bed and Breakfast Association. Individual book lights. Power strips to plug all of those electronic devices for re-juicing. I-pod decks. These are just a few examples! We have now just placed in each guest room a Homedics "Spa Sounds" pod that provides the relaxing sounds of the ocean, dockside, a babbling brook, or gentle rain. The pod is portable and may be set on a timer, so it can provide relaxation at bedtime or while you are soaking in the tub (in our Pathfinder or Fontaine Suites!). I liked it so much, we have one ourselves in our innkeepers' quarters!
Among their list of facts about the Civil War (1861-1865), the Virginia Historical Society cites 2,154 military engagements in Virginia, that 60% of the Civil War battles were fought here, but the year-long, 3,000-square-foot exhibit that just opened at VHS, “An American Turning Point: The Civil War in Virginia,” focuses more on the stories of people affected by the war than on the fighting itself. Stories about Richmonders – soldiers at the battlefront and their families on the homefront. Still, the “military engagements” aren’t ignored. The exhibit includes interactive maps that landscape origins of Union and Confederate regiments that fought in Virginia and the impact of 36 of those battles on the Nation. We'll keep you posted on the details as we visit the exhibit soon!
The exhibit is now open, through December 30, 2011.
The VHS is open 7 days a week, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. M-Sa, and 1-5 pm. Sundays. For more information, visit their website http://www.vahistorical.org/ or call 804.358.4901.