Fragility and mystery

Angels of The River at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen, July 1-30; Artists’ Reception July 18.

These paintings explore the fragility and mystery of the angel within dynamic abstract environments.

“Hollywood Cemetery is the biggest art gallery in the city. Its 145 hilly acres unfold like a textbook on Victorian stonework …Here, amid the graves of presidents, governors, Civil War heroes and notable Richmonders, is sculpture of bronze, marble and granite,” according to the Richmond Times Dispatch. With a Pre-Raphealite sensibility of mournful delicacy, the angels preside over these memories with their Victorian grace, still able to charm us even today.

Overflowing with hauntingly beautiful funerary statues, Hollywood Cemetery attracts visitors who stroll among the rolling hills overlooking the James River and the downtown Richmond area. It offers scenic views as well as poignant spots for reflection in the Gothic landscape. The angels of the Cemetery adorn those rolling hills with their quiet vigilance and simple elegance. Among the august personages of the Richmond elite, there are numerous poignant stories of local families who had the means and taste to adorn a monument with a graceful spirit who had taken wing. Especially moving are those memorials of lost sons and daughters, one of Bowles’ favorite subjects in this series. 

When I was in art school at VCU, I was enticed by the Victorian sculptures there, and realized they spoke of Richmond’s gentile past, and the care one took with remembrances. My reaction to the Neoclassical angels has always been one of awe and envy, that one artist could sculpt something so timeless and beautiful. In my college days, when we would visit the cemetery and take photographs, the angels were the most compelling attractions there.

The experience of painting the angels is at times fascinating. Or confusing. Though I have painted the figure within an abstract environment in the past, this time the exploration involves finding a “lightness” in the picture, perhaps even transcendence. In other words, I want to make paintings that encompass the feeling of floating, of light… an expression of the spiritual. I want each painting to be like a flower, something that simply grows, as if by magic. Something God put there for our sustenance. Something that just happened.

The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen offers residents and visitors an unparalleled opportunity to experience the arts, entertain new ideas, develop a new talent, and experience first-hand, all the best this community has to offer. Utilizing the unique and memorable features of the old Glen Allen School, this 50,300 square foot multi-use facility opened as The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen in 1999. To bring together the best in visual, literary and performing arts, the Center presents impeccable programming, as well as hosts outside arts organizations.

The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen is located at 2880 Mountain Road, Glen Allen, VA 23060.

Hours are 
Monday – Thursday, 9am-9pm
Friday, 9am-5pm
Saturday, 9am-5pm
Sunday, noon-5pm

For more information on The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen call 1-804-261-2787 (ARTS) or see them online at

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