People often describe Aggie Zed’s sculptures as “whimsical,” or “cute.”
“I can see whimsical, but I don’t ever see cute,” says the artist, who uses handmade ceramic and mechanical bits in combination with found materials such as scrap metal, wire, and plastic milk jugs to create what she calls “really dear beings that struggle” with themselves, with one another, and with technology.
Though Zed’s creatures possess both human and animal qualities—a human face beneath a pair of perky rabbit ears, or a dog dancing on human feet—Zed’s work, on view at Chroma Projects gallery through the month of December, is about the human condition. “My work is about people, the kinds of situations humans get themselves into and have to get themselves out of,” she says.
This is evident in the 10-inch-tall sculpture “Catch Me.” As two dogs dance hand in hand among wires and some scaffolding, one stands on tiptoe and leans forward, trusting the bottom dog to catch her. But it’ll be difficult: The bottom dog has already rocked back over its heels, legs splayed out, falling backwards, seemingly prepared to hit the floor. There’s no telling the outcome for these familiar, weird little creatures; perhaps they’ll keep dancing, perhaps they’ll collapse. (Not exactly a “cute” scenario.)
And while the other pieces are smaller, they’re no less complicated in construction and story. “I see most of my characters as being the common man, or the common person—not a creature or being of power,” says Zed, who points out that her work “can get dark” sometimes. “What people do, what people are, there’s certainly dark material there.” But there’s still something hopeful about them. As Zed says, “they look like you want them to succeed.”
The Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative 209 Monticello Rd. “Give + Take,” a swap shop meets free store meets surplus redistribution meets curb alert. 6pm.
Chroma Projects Inside Vault Virginia, Third Street SE. “Dancing in Their Heads,” featuring Aggie Zed’s fantastical animated sculpture, and Kelly Lonergan’s drawings of the subconscious life of his protagonists. 5-7pm.
CitySpace 100 Fifth St. NE. “Best of 2019” a show of work by the Fiber and Stitch Art Collective. 5-7:30pm.
C’ville Arts Cooperative Gallery 118 E. Main St., Downtown Mall. “A Clothesline of Characters,” featuring imaginative, hand-knit puppets, mittens, and hats by Mary Whittlesey. 6-8pm.
McGuffey Art Center 201 Second St. NW. In all galleries, the McGuffey members holiday shop, featuring ornaments, cards, prints, original art, jewelry, glassware, home decor, and more. 5:30-7:30pm.
Mudhouse Coffee 213 W. Main St. “CONFLICT/Resolution,” Adam Disbrow’s series reflecting the merger of the “seen” with the “unseen.” 5-7pm.
New Dominion Bookshop 404 E. Main St., Downtown Mall. “New Zealand Watercolors,” an exhibition of work by Blake Hurt. 5-7pm.
Second Street Gallery 115 Second St. SE. In the Main Gallery, “Illuminations & Illusions,” a show of paintings and sculpture spanning more than four decades of Beatrix Ost’s career as a visual artist; and in the Dové Gallery, “The Slow Death of Rocks,” reverse painting on glass and sculpture by Doug Young. 5:30-7:30pm.
Spring Street Boutique 107 W. Main St., Downtown Mall. “Marker’s Edge,” featuring works in marker on paper by Philip Jay Marlin. 6-8pm.
Studio IX 969 Second St. SE. “Retrospective,” a show chronicling more than a decade of the “Every Day is a Holiday” calendars made annually by collaborative artists and lifelong friends Eliza Evans and Virginia Rieley. 5:30-7:30pm.
Terry Coffey’s Studio 230 Court Square, Ste. 101 B. “Good Cheer,” watercolor, acrylic, and oil paintings, as well as handmade jewelry and handpainted birdhouses. 5-7pm.
VMDO Architects 200 E. Market St. “VMDO Artisans,” a mixed-media show of work by Diana Fang, Bethany Pritchard, Maggie Thacker, John Trevor, and others. 5:30-7:30pm.
Welcome Gallery 114 Third St. NE. The 2019 New City artist exchange exhibit, featuring pottery, works on paper, photography, and paintings by Angela Gleeson, Amdane Sanda, Julia Loman, Kori Price, Somé Louis, Steve Haske, and others. 5-7:30pm.
WVTF Radio IQ 216 W. Water St. An exhibition of work by more than a dozen photographers from the Charlottesville Camera Club. 5-7pm.
Yellow Cardinal Studio 301 E. Market St. A show of small works for holiday giving. 4-7pm.
Other December shows
Albemarle County Circuit Court 501 E. Jefferson St. An exhibition of work by members of the Central Virginia Watercolor Guild.
Barn Swallow Artisan Gallery 796 Gillums Ridge Rd. A show of work by jeweler and fiber artist Nancy Bond. December 14, 3-5pm.
Carpediem Exhibit 1429 E. High St. A collection of artwork created by 40 artists and artisans, including Janly Jaggard, V-Anne Evans, and the Geiger family.
The Center 491 Hillsdale Dr. “At Home and Abroad,” photographs by Frank Feigert.
The Fralin Museum of Art at UVA 155 Rugby Rd. “Otherwise,” exploring the influence of LGBTQ+ artists; “Time to Get Ready: fotografia social”; and “Select Works from the Alan Groh-Buzz Miller Collection.”
Free Union Country School 4220 Free Union Rd., Free Union. Artisans’ open house, featuring pottery by Nancy Ross, backgammon boards by Dave Heller, and more. December 7 and 8, 10am-4pm.
The Gallery at Ebb & Flow 71 River Rd., Faber. “Golden Hours,” an exhibit of recent photographs by Jack Taggart.
Les Yeux du Monde 841 Wolf Trap Rd. “Dean Dass: Venus and the Moon,” featuring atmospheric landscape paintings as well as stylized works of abstracted shapes and heavily worked surfaces.
Over the Moon Bookstore 2025 Library Ave., Crozet. “Natural Light,” a show of oil and acrylic paintings by John Carr Russell. Opens December 7.
Piedmont Virginia Community College 501 College Dr. PVCC Pottery Club’s annual sale. December 7, 9am-noon.
Shenandoah Valley Art Center 122 S. Wayne Ave., Waynesboro. A juried exhibition of modern folk art; “Iconoclasts,” featuring recent works on fabric by Annie Layne; and a show of small works by SVAC member artists. Opens December 14, 5-7pm.
Studio 453 1408 Crozet Ave. Artisan open studio with stained glass artist Jerry O’Dell. December 14, 1-4pm.
Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church Unitarian-Universalist 717 Rugby Rd. “Season of Light,” a community show. Opens December 1, noon.
Vitae Spirits 715 Henry Ave. “A Pilgrim’s Journey to Spain, Scotland, and France,” featuring new oil paintings by Randy Baskerville.
Westminster Canterbury 250 Pantops Mountain Rd. “The Pleasure of Your Company,” an exhibit of paintings by Judith Ely. Opens December 2, 2:30-3:30pm.
Woodberry Forest School 898 Woodberry Forest Rd., Woodberry Forest. “Living in the Moment,” featuring drawings and paintings by Tatiana Yavorska-Antrobius. Reception November 14, 6:30-7:30pm.
First Fridays is a monthly art event featuring exhibit openings at many area art galleries and exhibition venues. Several spaces offer receptions. To list an exhibit, email email@example.com.