Looking back at the arts in 2023

By Page H. Gifford

It was a busy year in the arts in Fluvanna, beginning with a solid season for the Carysbrook Performing Arts Center and the Fluvanna County Arts Council. 

Talent abounded. Steve Basset, whose Sweet Virginia Breeze was selected as Virginia’s official state song, performed with his band. And not since Robert Jospe appeared years ago has jazz been at the venue until Graham Dolby performed for a near sell-out crowd. 

But it was Elf Jr. the Musical that broke box office records for the first time in CPAC’s 30-year history. The Fluvanna County Arts Council had to add another performance due to popular demand.

The Fluvanna Art Association and FCAC collaborated on a visual art piece that has become a permanent part of CPAC. Hanging in the hallway across from the box office is a large puzzle made up of various images of the performing and visual arts. FAA members contributed their time and talent in creating this piece, a gift to the community.

FAA also had its first themed show for spring, focusing on the 1960s. Viewers were absorbed in nostalgia with a variety of subjects from the moonwalk to The Beatles, fashion and the controversial Vietnam War.

Three authors stood out this year for their non-fiction work. Dr. Melinda McCall talked about the challenges of living and practicing veterinary medicine and working with large animals in her book Driving Home Naked. Her book takes a hard yet practical look at working as a vet in farming communities, empowering women farmers and vets and how thatinfluences the future of farming and animal agriculture.

Mary Alice Hostetter’s memoir told the story of growing up in a traditional Mennonite culture and coming to terms with being gay. She looks at the changes taking place under society’s influence. Fred Lang’s second book Courageous Women and Their Leadership Legacies focuses on women leaders, including Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony, Marie Curie, Indira Gandhi, and Sally Ride. Women whose roles in leadership, politics, science, medicine, aviation, and even spying, were breakthrough accomplishments and contributions that broke down barriers, influencing societal and cultural norms. The book is an inspiration to women in the 21st century who continue to not only crack but break the glass ceiling and become a model for leadership in their own countries, rising against tyrannical governments and restrictive cultural and societal limits.

The Artists’ Studio Tour had another successful year with more artists participating. Also, Fluvanna County Parks and Recreation tried out their first Groovin’ in the Grove concerts, similar to Fridays After Five in Charlottesville. It was a success and FCPR will continue it from May through September of 2024.

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