By Stone Ferrell
It was close to five o’clock and Anne Timpano was busy introducing herself. She stood in the center of the Ridderhof Martin Gallery’s too-crowded foyer, and shook hands with a man in a crisp, black cowboy hat.
Anne Timpano is UMW’s new Gallery Director and last Thursday’s opening of the Mid-Atlantic New Painting Exhibition was her freshman orientation.
As soon as that’s done, she walks across the room and greets two more artists just walking through the Gallery’s heavy glass doors. It’s going to be a busy night for Timpano, but busy is nothing new for her.
At her previous job at the University of Cincinnati, she directed three galleries at once, managed the art collection, and headed the graduate program in museum studies.
As a gallery director, Timpano is used to multi-tasking and walking across the room to say hello to more artists. She adjusts her nametag and stretches out her hand.
The mood at the Ridderhof Martin Thursday night was light and friendly. Members of UMW’s faculty, artists from across the Mid-Atlantic and students with their own work on display welcome dthe school’s new gallery director.
While a brief power outage delayed the gallery’s opening, the crowd used the opportunity to explore another show at the DuPont Gallery.
Just a short walk away was the Adjunct Studio Art Faculty Exhibition, “Flaunting the Delicacies,” featuring the work of Mary Washington’s Calvin Burton and his wife Monica Palma. On display until February 10, the couple’s collection features abstract, crooked landscapes, and an impressive arrangement of bright Technicolor, muted grays and earth tones.
News soon came that the power in the neighboring Ridderhof Martin Gallery had been restored, and Timpano and her party returned to start the show.
With the lights on and doors open, the 30-some works on display could be fully appreciated at last.
John Ravendal, the juror for the show in Ridderhof Martin, was esespecially excited. The process for selecting the works began three months ago, with Ravendal viewing slides and digital images of more than 350 pieces from 124 different artists.
It was difficult, but eventually only one out of 11 of those works was selected, and Thursday night marked the first time an excited Ravendal could see them, fully illuminated and face-to-face.
Coming from all over the Mid-Atlantic region, many of the artists had driven hours to take part in the reception. Leaving Cincinnati for Fredericksburg, Timpano undertook a similar journey, though hers was a little different.
A Virginia native with much of her family still living just up the road in Alexandria, Timpano’s move to Mary Washington was more like a homecoming. In fact, UMW’s location was what made the job offer too good to pass up.
“Whoever wrote this must’ve been thinking of me,” Timpano said of her job description.
But the chime of a fork tapping against glass sent everyone’s eyes forward onto Ravendal. H e stood in the back of the room, beneath the gallery’s overhead lights and announced the exhibition’s winning artists.
After a handful of runners-up and Ravendal’s proclamation that everyone deserved an honorable mention, D.C. artist Lisa Blas accepted the prize of Best in Show for her work, Fort Sumter, which will be on display with the other works until March 2.
While the rest of the night was spent celebrating and socializing, enjoying the free food to the sounds of congratulations, Timpano knew there was plenty of work ahead.
Not mentioning the Centennial Alumni Exhibition coming in March, Timpano said she has ambitious plans for the Mary Washington Galleries. Her predecessor, Dr. Tomas P. Somma, who passed away last May, used the gallery as a way of involving the Fredericksburg community in UMW’s daily life, and Timpano plans to carry on this idea.
She hopes to use her background in museum studies to begin a certification program here at Mary Washington. Realistically, Timpano acknowledges the funding problems that lie ahead, but nonetheless is eager and confident about overcoming those difficulties.
Other members of Mary Washington’s art community share her excitement.
Robert Lynn, a senior Studio Art major who participated in Thursday’s exhibition, expressed the enthusiasm he shares with Timpano, “She’s got a lot of new ideas and it’s going to be an exciting place to work.”