Alexandria, VA – February was an exciting month at the Torpedo Factory Art Center. The Art League Annual Patron Show was, as always, a highlight of the year. SOUPer Saturday was one of two extremely popular fundraising events held annually by Alexandria ceramic and pottery artists. And this year the Target Gallery coordinated with the Alexandria Office of the Arts to throw a Valentine soirée spotlighting the latest exhibit, “My Queer Valentine.” Love of art is all around Alexandria!
This was the 52nd time the Art League has hosted the ticketed art auction event, the Patron Show. In its earliest incarnation, it was more informal. Tickets at one time were only $50, friends joined in the fun, artists held soirées in studios throughout the three floors, and guests brought sumptuous picnic baskets since it was a five- to six-hour affair. Ticket holders made their choices visually without benefit of the Art Thief app or the flow chart system adopted once artworks numbered in the 700s.
Through the years, the all-in-fun aspects became more belabored decision making which, together with the increase in donated art, resulted in a time limit being set to make an art pick. Ticket prices have risen to $225 each, and fire marshal occupancy limits abolished individual studio parties and modestly priced guest-seating tickets. New this year, the option of seating aboard the Cherry Blossom riverboat proved to be extremely popular with veteran Patron Show goers as well as newbies.
In the weeks before the event, the Art League Gallery accepts all-media art donated by Art League and Torpedo Factory studio and exhibiting artists. The art is photographed for the Art Thief site and for the archival record, then exhibited floor to ceiling in the gallery for ticket holders to view at length and determine their priorities via the Art Thief app.
Artist Wendy Donahoe regularly donates exquisite drawings and is a Patron Show favorite. She is a photorealist artist who usually works in pencil, but this year Donohoe’s submission was colored. “Boston’s Daughters” includes a stunning replica of John Singer Sargent’s iconic masterpiece “The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit” (1882) in the collection of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. That painting comprises half of Donohoe’s composition, with one of the two Japanese vessels that flank the painting in the Boston display. A museum visitor appears transfixed by the painting of young girls lounging in elegant surroundings.
At the other end of the Torpedo Factory is the Target Gallery, the contemporary exhibitions space dedicated to more progressive themes under direction of Leslie Mounaime Curator of Exhibitions. The current exhibit, “My Queer Valentine,” explores the art of love as expressed via nonbinary relationships and nonheteronormative precepts.
Love here has no labels. Sixteen artists are represented, eight from Virginia or the greater DMV. Abstract textural-sculptural modes, photographic exploration, even a kissing booth examine humanity as the common denominator of making love, being loved, loving beyond expectation, restriction, or limitations.
“You’re Already There, You Already Have Me,” Diptych mixed media on photo paper by Miki Beyer (they/them) in the Target Gallery. (Photo: Kelly MacConomyOn Valentine’s Day evening, the Target Gallery and the Torpedo Factory held a soirée and artist talk with Andy Johnson, the exhibition juror of the “My Queer Valentine” exhibit. Members of the LGBTQ community, supporters, friends, and art lovers from all around the DMV attended, thanks to a City Paper article praising the provocative art happening dedicated to love in all its boundless incarnations. The show closes March 8, so hurry to the Target Gallery. The material contains adult themes and may not be suitable for all art audiences.
Between a Friday Valentine reboot and the local Art League auction on Sunday, Torpedo Factory visitors enjoyed SOUPer Saturday. For 26 years, Torpedo Factory artists and local potters/ceramics groups like the Kiln Club, the Ceramic Guild, and Montgomery Potters have staged this annual event to support the United Communities Ministry in Hybla Valley.
Hundreds of donated ceramic works were available for patrons, with a voucher for a serving of award-winning Chart House clam chowder, to go or to enjoy at the event. The Chart House has sponsored SOUPer Saturday for years. The clam chowder is so popular that regulars arrive early to ensure they don’t hear “no soup for you!!!” (And to have the best selection of pottery.)
SOUPer Saturday raised over $3,500 for UCM, a nonprofit organization that provides advocacy, programs, and services to at-risk children, youth, and families in Alexandria.
Mark your calendars now for the 2021 Art Patron Show and SOUPer Saturday. Zebra will list all the details at the appropriate time, but art lovers don’t want to miss these annual events. If you can’t score one of the coveted auction tickets, you can come for the love of art.