Museum News


Leading Artists Take up the Poe Challenge


From April 24 until June 22, the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia will host a special exhibit of Poe-inspired artwork by ten of the world’s leading painters including Richard Thomas Scott, Melinda Borysevicz, Jeff Markowsky, Brian Busch, Chris Semtner, Charles Philip Brooks, Anelecia Hannah, Christine Sajecki, Jude Harzer, Thony Aiuppy, and Adrienne Stein. The artists live in different parts of the country and have studied in different parts of the world, but they are all united by a commitment to the craft of painting. Each artist in this diverse group of painters has taken up the challenge of interpreting Poe’s works through their unique artistic visions. The title of the exhibit, Into that Darkness Peering, is the passage from Poe’s immortal poem, “The Raven,” which reads, “Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before…”

The exhibit will open on April 24 from 6 to 9 P.M. during the Poe Museum’s monthly Unhappy Hour, which features live music, performances, and refreshments.

About the Artists:

Richard T. Scott is an American figurative painter working in New York and Paris, France.His contributions as a writer and aesthetic theorist have also been noted in realist circles, where he has participated in discussion panels with Donald Kuspit, and Vincent Desiderio. Scott is a proponent of an alternative philosophical superstructure for figurative painting, separate from that of the contemporary art world. Along with Odd Nerdrum, Helene Knoop, and Jan-Ove Tuv, Scott is one of the most vocal members of the Kitsch Movement. A one-time painter for Jeff Koons’s New York studio, Scott also worked and studied with the Norwegian painter Odd Nerdrum.

Christine Sajecki is an artist living between Savannah, Georgia and Baltimore, Maryland, and a native of Connecticut. Sajecki’s encaustic paintings are dreamy and sometimes allegorical explorations of her surroundings, and informed by history and storytelling, social engagement, urban foot paths, and the body and behavior of the materials she uses. Her paintings have been included in many juried and solo exhibitions throughout the United States and Europe. She has been a guest lecturer, teacher, or resident artist at several institutions and community centers, including the American Visionary Art Museum, Armstrong Atlantic State University, Clayton State University, the Creative Alliance at the Patterson, The Providence Center for Adults with Disabilities, Maryland Institute College of Art, Savannah College of Art and Design, and School 33 Baltimore.

Melinda Borysevicz was born on Long Island in New York to a father who built things, fixed things, fermented things (sauerkraut and choke-cherry wine, for example), and gave slide shows about his time in the Peace Corps; and a mother who grew things, canned things, baked things, let no one go to bed angry, and made play-dough from scratch. Melinda spent the better part of her TV-less childhood in a small town near the ocean, climbing trees, building forts, bossing her two younger brothers around (until they outgrew her), weeding the garden, exploring various woods and marshes, catching salamanders, writing poems, reading, drawing, painting and (intermittently) playing viola.

Thony Aiuppy received a BFA in Painting/Drawing at the University of North Florida in 2010 and an MFA degree in Painting at Savannah College of Art and Design in the Fall of 2013. His current body of work consists of thickly handled paintings produced with rich oil pigment that focus on the human form. The figures that employ these works become the focus within the confines of fictionalized situations with the intention to provoke the human understanding of identity by transposing time, culture, and ideology. Through the creation of such oil paintings, the artist merges socio-economic and -political themes with personal experiences of living with the residue of a racially divided American South to offer a new perspective on the pressing issues that face his contemporary landscape. Mr. Aiuppy is an art educator, a contributing writer for the blog Metro Jacksonville, and has a painting studio at CoRK Arts District. He lives in Jacksonville, Florida.

Brian Busch studied at the School of The Art Institute of Chicago and the Rhode Island School of Design before continuing his studies with Irving Shapiro and Bill Parks at the American Academy of Art in Chicago. Working solely from the live model at the Academy, Brian fell in love with the emotion and drama that can be expressed with the human form. Brian finds inspiration in the ordinary things around us, whether it be still life, landscape or farm animal. He makes no attempt to glorify his subjects, but to treat them with honesty and respect. Brian currently resides with his wife, Kathie in West Chicago, IL.

Anelecia Hannah currently lives and paints in a converted cotton mill in Columbus, Georgia and in the grey light of the Pacific Northwest. She attained a Bachelor of Arts in Seattle Pacific University and continued her studies in the Florence Academy of Fine Art in Florence, Italy in addition to private studies with acclaimed artist Bo Bartlett.

Chris Semtner is an artist, author, and curator living in Bon Air, Virginia. In recent years, he has displayed his work at the Science Museum of Virginia in Richmond, The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, and Viktor Wynd Fine Art in London; and his paintings have entered a number of public and private collections. He has curated several exhibits, and the New York Times called the show he curated for the Library of Virginia, Poe: Man, Myth, or Monster, “provocative” and “a playful, robust exhibit.” He has served as author, co-author, or editor of eight books and his currently writing a book about the nineteenth century artist James Carling.

Born in North Carolina, Charles Philip Brooks studied painting in New England in the studio of highly respected Boston School authority Paul Ingbretson and with the renowned American Barbizon painter Dennis Sheehan. He is widely known for his evocative Tonalist landscapes. His recent works include paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures reflecting a highly emotive and personal approach, informed by a deep reverence for the history of art.

Jude Harzer is an award winning nationally renowned artist whose figurative paintings are inspired by childhood, memories and the power of thought to define lives and overcome circumstances. Using oil paint as her preferred medium, she creates psychologically provocative visual narratives featuring adolescents as observers and guardians of inter generational mythologies. Born in 1963, Jude is the third of six children, raised by a single visually impaired mother. Earning a full academic scholarship, the artist received her Bachelors degree in 1987 from Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA. In 2001, Jude earned a K-12 Visual Arts teaching certification and completed her Masters of Fine Art in Painting from the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2013. Jude has participated in solo and group exhibitions that include venues such as The Misciagna Family Center Gallery, Penn State, The George Segal Gallery, NJ, Pen and Brush, Salamagundi Art Center, ACA Gallery and Prince Street Gallery, NYC. Jude’s paintings belong to both national and international private collections. She is the recipient of both the Dana and Geraldine R. Dodge fellowships and continues to paint, teach and prepare for upcoming exhibitions and art residencies. Jude lives and works in Ocean County, New Jersey.




A Descent Into The Maelstrom – August Unhappy Hour


Eddy decked out for the Maelstrom

Eddy all decked out for the Descent into the Maelstrom Unhappy Hour

Our nautically-themed August Unhappy Hour based upon Poe’s tale “A Descent Into The Maelstrom” proved to be a bit prophetic in terms of weather, both on the actual night of the event and during the ensuing weekend when Richmond was paid a visit by Hurricane Irene.

The August 25th event started out a bit cloudy but to quote from Poe’s tale of the Maelstrom, “In less than a minute the storm was upon us – in less than two the sky was entirely overcast – and what with this and the driving spray, it became suddenly so dark that we could not see each other …” Actually, the thunderstorm was not quite as bad as all that, but it was rather impressive nonetheless with heavy rains, lightning forking across the skies and ominous rumbles of thunder. In short, it was a PERFECT setting for our Unhappy Hour theme. Quite a few hardy souls braved the weather to come out and enjoy the Unhappy Hour festivities.

Maelstrom Art at the Poe Museum

The impending storm made its presence felt on our Maelstrom art project, thereby making some folks’ artworks a bit more mixed-media than originally intended

Many folks huddled up in the Poe Shrine to hear a wonderful program of sea shanties courtesy of the wonderful Bob Zentz and several of his friends that he brought along for the event. We were treated to a dazzling display of multi-instrumental goodness – instruments used included a hurdy gurdy, concertina, doumbek and many more.

Here is some video of the musical festivities in the Poe Shrine:

There are several more videos on the Poe Museum’s Youtube Channel as well.

Bob Zentz and Friends in the Poe Shrine

So a great time was had in spite of (or perhaps because of?) the literal Maelstrom outside. We are also happy that the Museum didn’t suffer any significant damage as a result of Hurricane Irene’s visit a couple of nights after the Unhappy Hour.

Don’t forget that our next Unhappy Hour, which will feature Poe’s most famous poem “The Raven” is coming up on September 22nd. We’ll be joined by the Jack Winn Duo andquite possibly by a large, black bird!

There are quite a few great events coming up in September and October so make sure you stop by our Events Page on this website or visit us on our Facebook page to keep up with all the details!




August Unhappy Hour Preview


Our August Unhappy Hour, based on Poe’s 1841 tale “A Descent Into The Maelstrom”, is just a few hours away.

In keeping with the nautical nature of Poe’s tale, we will be treated to sea shanties by Bob Zentz.

Here is a bit more info about him (lifted from his bio – you can read the whole thing on his website:

Over the years, Bob participated in many folk ventures, near and far. He began teaching folk music classes in Old Dominion University’s Rainbow Program in 1971; he created and ran the “Old Dominion Folk Festival” from 1972-81; and became a fixture at the Virginia State Fair beginning in 1980, appearing for his 28th year consecutive year as resident performer in the Heritage Village in October 2009. He appeared on PBS’s long-running program “A Prairie Home Companion” in 1982, and crewed and performed aboard Pete Seeger’s Hudson River sloop “Clearwater,” helping to repair the Hudson River and spreading the word about preserving our waterways, from 1989-91. Bob’s recording of his composition, “Horizons,” was selected in 2006 to be on a tribute to environmental author and pioneer Rachel Carson on the centenary of her birth, entitled “Songs for the Earth.”

Bob has also represented America and its folk traditions far and wide. He represented the U.S. in Shanty Tour, Finland, in 1997, and was an instructor at the inaugural Common Ground, Scotland, in 2002. He performed at the Scottish National Folk Festival in 2002, was featured U.S. artist at the Australian National Folk Festival in Canberra in 2004, and performed that same year in Auckland and Wellington for the New Zealand Maritime Museums. A featured performer at the 2004 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Bob is also a regular member of the faculty each summer at Common Ground on the Hill, held at McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland.

Local accolades in the Hampton Roads area include the 1992 John Sears Award for Community Service from Festevents and the City of Norfolk. He created the program, “Life of the 19th Century Mariner” for the Mariners Museum in Newport News in 1995; composed and performed “(Ode to the) Schooner Virginia” at the keel-laying ceremony in 2002 and launching ceremony in 2004; and was music consultant and performer for the multimedia theater experience, “Chesapeake Celebration” in 2004. He was a founding member of the Outer Banks Opry in 2003; received a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in 2004 to present “Music of the Chesapeake” in Virginia Schools; and was profiled by Public Television’s “Virginia Currents” in 2003 for recognition of his many contributions to music and the community, at home and abroad.

Here is a clip of Mr. Zentz in action at the 2009 Richmond Folk Festival:

So what is a “sea shanty”, you ask? Well, sea shanties were work songs created and sung by sailors. In the days when most of the work on a ship required muscle power, these songs helped to synchronize sailors’ movements as they toiled at repetitive tasks. They also would have been useful to relieve the boredom that one might experience during long sea voyages. The word “shanty” actually derives from the French word “chanter” which means “to sing.”

Come on out from 6-9pm tomorrow night (August 25th) and get into the nautical spirit. As always, Unhappy Hour is free and open to the public. There will be free nibbles and a cash bar as well as fun activities.




Coming Soon: A Descent into the Maelstrom


On Thursday, August 25 from 6-9 P.M. the Poe Museum will pay tribute to Poe’s thrilling adventure tale “A Descent into the Maelstrom” with an evening of sea shanties by renowned folk singer Bob Zentz as well as exhibits, games, and refreshments. Admission is free, but donations are accepted. A cash bar will be available.

“A Descent into the Maelstrom” is the story of a sailor whose ship is trapped in a giant whirlpool. The story was first printed in the May 1841 issue of Grahams Magazine, the same publication that had published “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” a month earlier. At the time of its publication, a reviewer for the Aristidean wrote the story was “noted for the boldness of its subject–a subject never dreamed of before…” Poe’s story was so realistic that some readers thought it was a true story, and a passage from the story was reprinted as fact in the ninth edition of Encyclopedia Britannica. The story was reprinted in Poe’s 1845 collection Tales of Edgar A. Poe. By the next year it had been translated into French and German. It remains one of Poe’s most popular tales and has been compared with both his detective stories and his science fiction. In 1869, Jules Verne, a devotee of Poe’s works, included the Maelstrom in his novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by having Captain Nemo attempt suicide by sending his submarine into the whirlpool.