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Monument Avenue: General Demotion/General Devotion Exhibition To Open February 14

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A new exhibition debuting on Valentine’s Day will conceptually reimagine Richmond’s historic Monument Avenue. Opening at the Valentine on February 14, this exhibition follows the Valentine’s Monumental: Richmond’s Monuments (1607-2018), which examined the role and context of more than 40 monuments in and around the city.

Titled Monument Avenue: General Demotion/General Devotion, this new exhibition is the result of a multi-year collaboration with the Storefront for Community Design and the mOb studiO at Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts.

“In keeping with our mission, the Valentine listened to the debate taking place in the wider Richmond community concerning monuments and what they mean to us today, and we responded with Monumental,” said Valentine Director Bill Martin. “We are excited to take this concept of important and timely community conversations a step further by hosting an exhibition that asks us to question the future of Monument Avenue.”

Last year, the Valentine, Storefront and VCUarts mOb studiO applied for and received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to host an international design competition, which invited teams of planners, architects, designers, artists and individuals to conceptually re-imagine Monument Avenue.

“We received 70 proposals from architectural firms, centers of higher education, artists and many others,” said Camden Whitehead, mOb studiO co-founder and an associate professor of interior design at VCUarts. “We hope that the diverse ideas on display in this exhibition at the Valentine will demonstrate the unique power of design to serve as a catalyst for community discussion and contribute to the important dialogue about race, memory, the urban landscape and public art.”

Submitted concepts will be featured in the exhibition at the Valentine. A jury will also review the submissions and select finalists. The winning concepts, including a People’s Choice Award, will be announced on November 21 at a closing reception hosted at the Valentine.

As part of related programming, exhibition organizers are in the process of planning two community conversation events.

Additionally, from February 16 to April 20, the Branch Museum of Architecture and Design will host the results of a similar design competition specifically for Richmond students in an exhibition titled Monumental Youth.

“The Branch Museum is excited to have the Monumental Youth exhibition in our galleries, as it gives a voice to young people tackling large design ideas in thoughtful and exciting ways,” said Branch Museum Executive Director Penny Fletcher. “In addition, it addresses a pressing design challenge confronting our community and many others – how can we make public spaces, designed a century or more ago, relevant and accessible today? We are proud to be showcasing this important and contemplative work from students in and around Richmond. The Branch Museum is dedicated to bringing exciting and challenging design thinking to our community, and the students represented in this exhibition have done that beautifully.”

Monument Avenue: General Demotion/General Devotion closes at the Valentine on December 1, 2019.

Finalists will be notified on the opening day of the exhibition at the Valentine.

You can read more about the exhibition and competition on our feature on NextCity.