The Monuments Men, a movie directed by George Clooney, recreates the “greatest treasure hunt in history”. President Franklin D. Roosevelt approves the MFAA (Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives) program which sends museum directors, curators and art historians into the heat of World War II to retrieve works of art stolen by the Nazis and return them to their rightful owners. Tensions are high as the team proceeds to find the treasure amidst chaos with the knowledge that the German army has been directed to destroy these objects as Hitler’s evil campaign senses defeat.
Amidst a degree of tragedy and horror that, fortunately, most of us will never experience, the significance of art was not forgotten. From the most evil to the innocent, countless individuals acted upon the belief that these icons of our cultural heritage were worth fighting for. In today’s high-tech, social media driven society, intellectual, visual stimulation that does not exist on an iPad screen seems to have lost favor.
The city of Virginia Beach provides many opportunities to experience culturally significant artwork. Event attendees at the Princess Anne Athletic Complex or Farm Bureau Live are treated to the fabulous “Light Garden” by Dan Eldred at the intersection of Princess Anne and Dam Neck Roads. The oceanfront boasts the renowned statues of “King Neptune” by Paul A. DiPasquale and “Anticipation” by Richard Stravitz. The most recent addition to our public art collection, “Wave” by Jeff Laramore, welcomes visitors traveling from Laskin Road to the Oceanfront.
The Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) at the intersection of I-264W and Parks Avenue hosts a wide variety of exhibits that change frequently as well as a permanently installed 14 foot tall chandelier by master glass artist Dale Chihuly. MOCA also produces the annual Boardwalk Art Show that displays the work of artists from across the United States.
Virginia Beach also offers a number of diverse art galleries. The Stravitz Fine Art Gallery and Sculpture Studio on Laskin Road near Bella Monte features renowned national and international artists as well as the working sculpture studio of master bronze sculptor Richard Stravitz. The Artists Gallery on Norfolk Avenue houses the working studios of a wide variety of local artists. From the Jones Gallery to the Beach Gallery, 21st Street Art Gallery and more, opportunities abound to revel in the artistic talent showcased in our local venues.
The appreciation of great art is a worthy pursuit that allows us to check out of our sometimes overwhelming lives. Visit the public artwork, museums and galleries listed here and the many others located in Virginia Beach and reflect for a moment on what the works express to you and what they convey about our culture. Marvel in the achievements of these skilled artists and simply enjoy the beauty of these artistic treasures.