It’s for the culture

9/7/2023, 6 p.m.
Just a reminder that the city’s 2023 edition of the Summer Festival of the Arts will wrap up this weekend …

Just a reminder that the city’s 2023 edition of the Summer Festival of the Arts will wrap up this weekend with a really cool, free festival from 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday at the Dogwood Dell amphitheater in Byrd Park.

AfroFest RVA celebrates African nations and the cultural diversity of the Motherland. The open-to-all event will offer information about 27 countries and also feature various foods, a fashion show and performances by musical artist Rhythm and KanKouran, a West African dance company.

We also encourage you to take in many of the fun and informative events that continue to make Richmond a destination city. (If we sound likes boosters, well, why not?)

In this Free Press edition, we highlight the last days of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts exhibit that showcases “Benjamin Wigfall and Communications Village” and “Whitfield Lovell: Passages.”

The VMFA’s exhibition of works by Richmond native Benjamin Wigfall is the first retrospective of his career covering his early years growing up in Church Hill, his work as an abstract painter and printmaker and his pioneering social-artwork in founding Communications Village, a community art space in Kingston, N.Y.

Local historian and radio personality Gary Flowers offers his thoughts on the exhibit in a promotional video made by the VMFA.

“No one can tell you what this exhibition is until you see it for yourself, until you feel it for yourself,” Mr. Flowers said, noting the images he saw typified the Jackson Ward that in its heyday was known as “Black Wall Street” and the “Harlem of the South.”

And tonight, at 6:30 p.m., Mr. Lovell will discuss the creation of his 2001 work. If you can’t attend in person, check out his talk for free via livestream on the museum’s website.

Also, there’s still time to visit The Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia’s “The Art of Freedom II” exhibit. But don’t wait too long. Dec. 17, when the exhibit ends, will be here before we know it.

The Jackson Ward museum exhibit features the work of Virginia-born and Virginia-based artists. The more than 80 pieces in the exhibit were created in various mediums by painters, sculptors, illustrators, photographers and artisans working with fabric, glass and wood. Open since May 24, each piece displayed manifests the artists’ personal expression of the meaning of freedom.

Finally, there are two film festivals this weekend and next that you will not want to miss.

After a three-year hiatus, African Film Weekend returns to the University of Richmond on Sept. 8-9.

Free and open to the public, African Film Weekend, will celebrate the work of first-time African filmmakers with five movies that will be shown. Spanning genres from romantic comedy to documentary, the films focus on the issues raised by this young generation of filmmakers as they turn to the future. Each film reflects on the ways African and African Diasporan peoples would like to depict themselves as they face the challenges of a global society.

Mamadou Dia, an award-winning Senegalese film director, screenwriter, and co-founder of the production company Joyedidi, is the special guest presenter.

“I hope that for a weekend, the University and the greater Richmond community will gather under our symbolic baobab tree to view how issues of importance are conveyed by young African filmmakers,” says Kasongo Kapanga, chair of the department of languages, literatures, and cultures and organizer of the event.

Also not to be missed is the The Afrikana Independent Film Festival Sept. 14-17 with more than 50 films, workshops and panel discussions.

Among the features and events this year, the festival will feature the premiere of its first film production, “Ninki Nanka.” The movie is the end result of Afrikana’s first filmmaker residency, and was created in collaboration with Oakwood Arts and Virginia Public Media.

“As we step into our eighth annual festival, I’m excited to see Afrikana present new experiences that expand how the Black story is stored and shared,” said Enjoli Moon, founder of the Afrikana Independent Film Festival. “As Richmond continues to grow as a cultural hub, we are looking forward to celebrating filmmakers, chefs and artists from across the diaspora and the Richmond region.”

Hope to see you there.