Monticello Road Project Draws to a Close…

Monticello Road

Photo from the "Monticello Road" exhibit.

Monticello Road is a celebration of one of Charlottesville’s oldest and most interesting streets, a story told through photography and a curated series of community events. The first part of Monticello Road is a photography exhibit at The Bridge PAI by local photographer Peter Krebs. If you haven’t yet made it over to the The Bridge to see this show, you better hurry! The exhibit runs through Saturday, April 28. The gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday noon to 3:00pm. Admission is FREE.

Peter spent two years documenting the people and places along the one-mile length of Monticello Road from Moore’s Creek to the Belmont Bridge. A neighborhood resident, Peter revisited the same sites repeatedly and compiled a comprehensive body of images depicting lives unfolding in Belmont. One way that he documented the neighborhood was by holding four photo booths that engaged passersby in the parking lots of places like La Taza and Spudnuts.

As a result, the exhibit includes some three dozen prints as well as a slide show with hundreds of faces from Monticello Road. An 80-page hardcover catalog accompanies the exhibition and is available for purchase via the Monticello Road Kickstarter Project. It functions almost as a community yearbook, creating a lasting record of a neighborhood in transition.

Both the C-VILLE Weekly and the Daily Progress previewed the exhibit, drawing in new people to visit the gallery. Additionally, three elementary school groups visited the show, with walking-tours past many of the sites where the images were captured.

The second, though no less important, part of Monticello Road is a series of events that have provided opportunities to get to know the neighborhood and its people. Beginning with a packed opening reception on First Fridays on April 6th at The Bridge PAI, the Monticello Road project has been a unique and multi-faceted attempt at building community. For example, at the reception, attendees wore name tags. As Peter told the Daily Progress by way of explanation, “It’s like a real-world version of Facebook. It’s social networking in a real way.” That certainly echoes a theme of the exhibit, which is fostering community.

“We got to know our neighbors. Strangers became familiar; familiar faces acquaintances; and acquaintances became friends,” Peter wrote on his blog.

One of the earlier events was a film screening of Still Life with Donuts, a documentary about Belmont, at the perfect location: Spudnuts, the long-running donut shoppe! Attendees ate donuts, sipped coffee from styrofoam cups, and watched the documentary. Afterward, the filmmakers Mark Edwards and Mary Michaud participated in a Q & A. During that session, they announced that they have decided to make an epilogue to the 10-year-old documentary.

Another event was a tour and open house of the Virginia Industries for the Blind, located on Monticello Road. As Peter wrote, “You might be surprised to learn that this quiet-looking place is making beds for the Navy. You’ll also meet some of the nicest and most interesting people there.”

On April 17th, the Monticello Road project hosted a panel on “Neighborhood/Community Planning” in cooperation with AIA Architecture Week. Architects, planning experts and community members (including city councilors and school board members) discussed community development. Charlottesville Tomorrow covered the event and you can check out the story here.

Last Sunday, the Monticello Road project hosted “Story Sharing and Oral Histories” at The Bridge gallery. Essentially, the event turned the gallery into the neighborhood’s front porch for an afternoon, with storytelling by long-timers and newer residents. These oral histories were recorded and will be made available at a later date via the Monticello Road blog. Additionally, the blog is now home to profiles celebrating the many of the people in the Belmont neighborhood who live along Monticello Road.

Yesterday, there was an “Artist’s Talk and Round Table Discussion.” Peter discussed his work and what he’s learned about the artist’s unique role in a healthy community. In keeping with the message of Monticello Road, he was joined by other artists who actively engage the community in different ways, including Aaron Eichorst, John Trippel, Greg Antrim Kelley, and others.

Last but certainly not least, this Saturday, April 28th, there is a tentatively scheduled “Hangover Brunch” at 10:00am at Moore’s Creek Family Restaurant (located at 1710 Monticello Road). Peter says, “Join us for a huge breakfast at the tall-tale-spinning headquarters of Monticello Road.” That sounds like a delicious plan!

If you would like to support the Monticello Road project, you can make a pledge via Kickstarter.

For more information about the project, please email Peter Krebs.

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