It’s easy, especially as the weather shifts from Winter to Spring, to bask in the local art and culture Richmond has to offer – you can’t trip over a shitty cobblestone Fan sidewalk without eyeing a b
It’s easy, especially as the weather shifts from Winter to Spring, to bask in the local art and culture Richmond has to offer – you can’t trip over a shitty cobblestone Fan sidewalk without eyeing a beautiful and unique mural. Bike posts are about as common as parking meters these days. And lord knows we’ve got First Fridays and a wealth of bumping venues and bars.
So when some of our neighbors to the west look over and see what we’ve got, you can’t help but hope they follow in our creative footsteps.
That’s where Paul Beyer (picture below right, with RVA Muralist Mickael Broth) and the folks at Charlottesville’s Tom Tom Founders Festival come in.
“The city of Richmond has this great ethos of ‘get in and do shit’ and C-ville doesn’t have that to the same extent,” said Beyer a few weeks before the festival which starts next Monday, April, 13. “Charlottesville is much more of an institution led town, and there’s less emphasis on this kind of ground-up experimentation. That’s one of the inspirations I’ve taken from RVA.”
Tom Tom is the product of a lot of hard work, but it’s spirit lies in the fledgling creative community which has started to call Charlottesville its home. Beyer’s proud to be a part of that, but he admits the seemingly-small town is more known for the University of Virginia and Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson. But his hard work, and the 17,000 attendees who came out to Tom Tom last year, hope to change that.
“I think Charlottesville has been seen as a retirement community – it’s pretty, it’s historic, it’s a nice tourist destination… but it hasn’t been seen as a vital place to make art or start a business,” said Beyer. “If you’re graduating UVA, is this a place where you start a tech firm? An interesting project? And is this a community who supports that? And I think, in the last few years, its a narrative that has started to take hold.”
Tom Tom has been a huge part of that. The event draws thousands to C-ville’s downtown region with a week’s worth of shows, art, food and conversation.
“Its a model for how many different communities can meld,” said Beyer, who’s been leading the charge for Tom Tom since 2012. “Every town needs a happening, something, a central event, where everyone knows theres a time we all gather and talk about certain things. For the week of Tom Tom, we’re talking about the community as a creative hub.”
The festival aims to support collaboration, interdisciplinary art, and any and every other creative outlet available – just as long as the community comes together to support it.
“It resonates here cause there’s great bones here already,” said Beyer about the historic downtown, UVA campus region, and everything in between.
But Beyer is hoping to kick things up a notch this year, with the addition of RVA artist Mickael Broth to the line up of live painters taking part in the festivities.
“I liked his work with welcoming walls,” said Beyer about the Broth project which put murals in visible areas near entrances to Richmond city.
“I liked his narrative of how people approach a city. Cities need to be aware of what their brand is, and how to communicate with those who come to the city. And with Tom Tom, its about building that narrative – what is Charlottesville – what is it and what do we want it to be?”
Beyer is asking a lot of questions, but that seems to be the point with an event like Tom Tom – there’s the obvious SXSW comparison, but there’s something to be said for a local, home grown event reaching out to neighbors to help grow what many know already lies under the surface.
The last few weeks have been spent stripping the paint off C-ville’s trolly which connects the campus to downtown. It’s being prepped for Broth to come in an tag the vehicle in his unique style. The muralist will also get his hands on a 240 ft. wall along the downtown area.
Breyer said there’s tons of room for work to be done – much like RVA, C-ville experienced a kind of industrial-drain leaving a sizable amount of warehouse spaces ripe for paint.
“Its kind of at the curb of industrial space – with lots of new breweries… And so this will help develop that area and the cities brand.”
So what should you keep an eye out for? Here’s what RVA Mag recommends for your trip to Tom Tom –
Friday, April 17th 08:00 AM – 06:00 PM @ The Paramount Theater
Each founder will tell his or her story, and then lead a panel of experts on topics like the role of corporations in society, commerce versus creativity, and how to build big ideas in small towns.
Alexis Ohanian, founder of reddit
Kip Tindell of the Container Store
Becca McCharen of Chromat
Iron Chef at the City Market</strong>
A live, local homage to the cult classic cooking show
Saturday, April 18th 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM @ The Farmer’s Market
The six contestants will each have a $50 budget, 35 minutes to tour the farmer’s market, and just 30 minutes to cook, before presenting their dishes to a formidable panel of local food celebs. The winner will take home $250 and the title of Charlottesville’s Iron Chef.
Graffiti and mural art specialists Junction XXI pair six street artists together in teams to battle it out in a competition on the graffiti wall by Champion Brewery.
Saturday, April 18th
Live painting: 12PM – 6PM
Crowd voting: 6:30-7PM,
Belmont Bridge Graffiti Wall
Tom Tom’s first metal showcase with the debut of Champion Brewery’s Black IPA Collab with Ramming Speed!
Saturday, April 18th – 07:00 PM – 11:00 PM @ Champion Brewery
The Glorious Gone
This is just a sampling of what the event has to offer – check out the full line up of events here http://tomtomfest.com/ , and pick up your tickets ahead of time here. http://tomtomfest.com/tickets/