Contributors: Victoria Bourne, Matthew Korfhage, Kimberly Pierceall, Denise M. Watson, Ben Swenson
Welcome back to the world – sort of.
Virginia has pried the door open a bit more on its efforts to rejoin the world. We can again eat at a buffet without pointing and waiting; we can swim in a pool and not stick to one lane; we can bowl, roller skate, hit arcades, gamble (with something other than our health) and participate in most of the things we did before the world turned on its head.
Of course, by the time you read this, all of that might have changed. But, yay for now!
Three generations of greatness
One of the iconic families of American art is being featured at the Peninsula Fine Arts Center in Newport News. The Wyeths: Three Generations | Works from the Bank of America Collection opened in July and runs through Nov. 8. The exhibit features 74 works by N.C. Wyeth; his son, Andrew; and his grandson, Jamie.
“PFAC is incredibly proud we can offer this exhibition to as many members of our community as possible through reduced admission and community programming,” said Courtney Gardner, executive director.
The most famous Wyeth is Andrew, a realist who crafted masterpieces such as Christina’s World and Winter 1946. He worked in a regionalist style, often capturing the land and the people of Chadds Ford Township, Pennsylvania, and Cushing, Maine. Andrew avoided traditional oil paints and became masterful at egg tempera and watercolors.
His father, N.C. Wyeth, is known as one of America’s greatest illustrators, often painting cowboys and farm scenes. Later, he illustrated classic literature and fantasy stories, including his much-acclaimed illustrated edition of Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. Illustrations for stories by Stevenson and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are among the works included in the exhibition.
Jamie Wyeth, son of Andrew, joined his family as a contemporary realist painter specializing in art depicting his native Brandywine River area of Delaware and Pennsylvania. In contrast to his father, Jamie works in oil and mixed media, creating lush painterly surfaces. Eighteen paintings in the exhibition represent all the periods of Jamie’s career.
The museum will present public programs and events, including a visit from Andrew’s granddaughter, Victoria Wyeth, further illustrating the rich artistic legacy of one American family.
Speakeasy and make a big drink
The term speakeasy generally conjures visions of big cities, dark alleys and whispered passwords. But in a recent issue of The Virginian-Pilot, food writer Matthew Korfhage talks about his discovery of a new cocktail speakeasy on the edge of Suffolk farm country.
The new place, in a hidden room behind Fin & Tonic restaurant, across from Bennett’s Creek Farm Market & Deli, “is a dimly lit lounge where you can find yourself drinking elegant fizzy cocktails while spearing a tender tendril of Spanish octopus from a bed of black lentil.”
Korfhage goes on to say that the speakeasy “is a place of almost self-consciously esoteric tipples, where a Negroni might have its gin infused with green tea or swapped out with mezcal for bracing smokiness.”
Um … sign us up!
Of course, COVID-19 means social-distancing rules apply, so make sure you call ahead, because space is limited.
The Hermitage Museum & Gardens is now open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. A special exhibition, Unknown Outcome, focuses on climate change and examines the human impact on the environment. The museum invites people to attend an event featuring the exhibit’s 10 artists from 6 to 9 p.m. on Aug. 13. It’s an opportunity to enjoy hors d’oeuvres and mingle, but also to learn more about the artists’ work and creative process. Cost to members is free with advance registration; it’s $8 for non-members.
New joint in Charlottesville
Charlottesville has a new spot that offers an interesting collaboration between chefs, brewers, vintners and coffee roasters. The Wool Factory, a 12,000-square-foot-project located at The Historic Woolen Mills a mile from downtown, features an expansive event space, a craft microbrewery, an ingredient-driven restaurant and a coffee and wine shop.
The Wool Factory’s Selvedge Brewing and The Workshop event space opened in July. The restaurant, Broadcloth, will open later.
Thirsty? Head to the Peninsula
South Hampton Roads gets most of the attention when it comes to breweries in these parts, but the Historic Triangle has more than its share of great spots. Here are some suggestions if you are jonesing for a beer and want to get out of the neighborhood.
Precarious Beer Project and Amber Ox Public House
Between the gastropub fare at Amber Ox near Merchants Square and the fancy tacos at the capacious Precarious Beer Hall down the street – not to mention the brewers’ hazy IPAs, fruity goses and classic pilsners – these sister establishments will serve pretty much every need of a varied crowd. Amber Ox and Precarious are an essential stop on any tours of Williamsburg, and home to some of the finest beer in the region.
The Virginia Beer Company
This is a no-nonsense, old-school craft brewery: there are tables scattered around a patio and bare-bones tasting room, a beer menu printed in chalk, and a world of visible kegs and barrels behind the bar. And it’s those barrels that set The Virginia Beer Company apart from most breweries in southeastern Virginia. This doesn’t mean you should forsake a nice glass of Wrenish Rye, or Free Verse, the IPA that put them on tap lists all over Virginia, or El Cumbanchero, a sweet-spicy Mexican chocolate stout. But it does mean you’re a sucker if you don’t order that barrel-aged Waypost stout, aged in Grand Marnier or Willett bourbon barrels — or the Cellar Circus, a wine-barrel-fermented farmhouse ale, for that matter.
Billsburg is where you go for the feeling, but not the expense, of drinking at a yacht club. The deck outside the tasting room offers a vast vista of the marina and marsh, and the sprawling adjacent lawn dips so close to the boats of the Jamestown Yacht Basin you might as well be on the water yourself. Either way, the magic formula is beer and water. Though they’ve added a seltzer line for newfangled drinkers, most don’t go to Billsburg for the latest trend in milk-sugar blueberry beers. For the most part, the brewery kicks out fairly traditional, true-to-form clear IPAs, stouts, reds, Irish creams and lagers.
Alewerks Brewing Company
Alewerks has been sending its flagship cans to grocery stores for years, so you might think you know them. But unless you try the special releases, you probably don’t. You can visit the brewery’s original taproom, or better yet, drop in on the satellite location, L.A.B. Taproom at Williamsburg Premium Outlets. While the family shops, stop in for a rum-barrel-aged pumpkin beer that feels like everything good about Christmas, an annual Belgian strong dark ale called Jubilee, a 2-year-old barleywine, a one-off cherry sour with chocolate, or a vanilla-spiked IPA that tastes like a hoppy Creamsicle.
Brass Cannon Brewing
From the outside, Brass Cannon looks a little like the watering hole for troops out to fight ancient battles. But the battle the brewery has won is for the dark Celtic soul. Hazy IPAs and the occasional snickerdoodle beer grace the beer list, but the two most reliable brews are always on tap and often the best. There’s a surprisingly graceful stout — a description of half the Scots at the Highland Games. And there’s also a Scottish wee heavy that’ll come on smooth but will lift your kilt with its 7.8 percent alcohol by volume.
Silver Hand Meadery
OK, so mead isn’t beer – but it’s been around a lot longer. The fermented honey tipple is the most ancient hooch in the world. But it’s also undergone a recent resurgence, in part because of a new-school emphasis on inventive flavors. For $20, Silver Hand offers private-table tastings of a lot of them: herbal meads, coffee meads, strawberry and blackberry meads, cider-mead hybrids, and traditional meads devoted to bringing out the gentle florals of wildflower honey. Would you rather just have the honey? They sell that, too, in a boggling array of varietals, made by bees that gathered pollen from just a single kind of flower.
Virginia MOCA is back
The Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art has reopened with three exhibitions: Shifting Gaze: A Reconstruction of The Black & Hispanic Body in Contemporary Art From the Collection of Dr. Robert B. Feldman, New Waves 2020 and Hampton Boyer: There’s No Place Like Here.
The exhibitions were scheduled to open in mid-March but were pushed back because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The artwork will remain on view until Jan. 3.
Shifting Gaze is particularly timely given current events. Said Gary Ryan, executive director: “The messages within the exhibitions were true then and are particularly poignant right now in light of the recent violent and unnecessary deaths of Black Americans. Virginia MOCA stands against racism and is committed to providing a space for discussion, learning and progress toward a fuller understanding of our shared humanity.”
Because of generous underwriting from community sponsors, admission to these exhibitions will be free to all visitors.
New spots to nosh
Want something light and delicious? Keep your eye out for Vang’s Sushi trailer, the new portable eatery that started in June in Virginia Beach and will soon be cruising through Norfolk and Chesapeake.
Hankering for something sweet? Hummingbird Macarons and Desserts, home of incredible macarons and taste-test-winning chocolate chip cookies, is operating again after some moving around. Baker Kisha Moore is finally in her new home in Norfolk’s Neon District.
Most people were shocked in March when Williamsburg chef David Everett announced he was closing The Trellis after it had been around for 40 years. Everett has replaced the iconic Williamsburg eatery with La Piazza, a northern Italian spot devoted to Tuscan and Venetian cuisines, with pastas, Tuscan breads, roasted chicken, wines and lambrusco sangrias.
Looking for a deal?
The Williamsburg ReStore, one of more than 900 Habitat for Humanity stores across the country, has developed a reputation as a great place to find affordable, high-end furniture and home-improvement items.
Habitat for Humanity Peninsula and Greater Williamsburg is the local affiliate of the international organization that strives to make affordable housing a reality. The Williamsburg ReStore, located in the Colony Square Shopping Center on Jamestown Road, leads all Virginia venues in sales and profit and is in the top 10 in gross sales nationwide. That will likely increase since the store has added roughly 17,000 square feet, bringing the total to more than 40,000.
Part of the Williamsburg ReStore’s appeal comes from the community’s profile. Donations pour in from several sources, offering furnishings and fixtures that are generally high-quality, durable and interesting. Greater Williamsburg is home to a lot of successful empty nesters, many of whom downsize as they age.
Such a broad pool of donors makes for a variety of offerings, much more than the typical bric-a-brac found in thrift stores. Eclectic items also fill ReStore shelves, such as unopened toys, blankets and antique books. Remarkable one-offs frequently land on the sales floor. Recently, a corporate partner donated an enormous rug that could fit in a palace.
Breaking free of corsets
Women’s liberation came decades before the 1960s movement. According to a new exhibition at the Hunter House Victorian Museum in Norfolk, in the early 1900s, women were freeing themselves from rib-crushing corsets and other confining fashions as much as they were pushing for the right to vote.
From Corsets to Crinoline: Unmentionables and the Road to Women’s Suffrage examines how women’s undergarments changed as they saw the need for more political say-so. The show contains more than 25 items of clothing and memorabilia, including petticoats and chemises and turn-of-the-century advertisements. It will be on view through Sept. 5.
The exhibition fits into the museum’s yearlong “Year of the Woman” theme. Aug. 18 marks the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which guaranteed women the right to vote.