Dave Chance Downtown: Renovation Update

Dave’s been hard at work with renovating his new studio. It’s going be used for business activities today, so he had to get the project to an adequate level of readiness.  Still lots to do, but it’s looking great!

Here’s what his wall framing and floor moving projects look like:

Wall with rigid insulation and furring.

Wall with rigid insulation and furring.

Wall with electric lines, batt insulation, and wall board.

Wall with electric lines, batt insulation, and wall board.

Wall taped for spackle and painting.

Wall to the right taped for spackle and painting.

Floor moved for today's auditions.

Floor moved for today’s auditions.


Demolition at 616 High Street.

Demolition at 616 High Street.

My constructions of the week mostly involve educational ideas. I completed initial drafts of two conference papers, submit one of them, and today started drafting a third. I have decided that last fall was my “warm up” period and now it is time to hunker down for a little while and produce a host of papers about various aspects of what I learned.

Back home, Dave has been constructing physical things at his new studio. He removed some case work that didn’t suit his needs and he has purchased the materials needed to insulate and construct a new wall surface over the existing concrete block wall on the east side of the main studio space. In the construction biz, we call this “furring out” the wall.  Dave will be able to hide the currently exposed electrical wiring inside the new wall and it will make a much nicer surface for displaying photos.

I’m happy to report that he didn’t hurt himself in the demolition. It sounds like there were some close calls in that he decided to do the work all by himself. Let’s wish him luck in his “furring” job today… and me on my drafting….

Materials for Dave's rebuild.

Materials for Dave’s rebuild.

A Great Daddy

Lucy worked at the hospital all day yesterday.  Matt, Dave, and I spent the day with the kids.  I’ve developed a world of respect for Matt, who has shaped up to be a fantastic dad.  He’s also a great cook and serves up meal after tasty meal.

Christmas Presence

We’re never in a hurry to open gifts when we’re at Mom’s for Christmas.  Gifts just aren’t the focus of our gathering.  This year, we waited until today, December 27, to make our exchanges.

We had a lot of fun, nonetheless.  The pictures look much like the past five years (the same five characters, the same house).  This year, we’re just a bit older and, hopefully, wiser.  You’ll see from my photos that the gifts we give tend to be practical, educational, or cultural….

Irish Lore on the Blue Ridge

Mike Heivly's studio in Charlottesville, Virginia, filled with the essence of Ireland.

Mike Heivly, Kevin Donleavy, and Dave Chance at Mike’s art studio in Charlottesville, Virginia — filled with the essence of Ireland.

The fragile gift bag I toted from Ireland sheltered two vinyl records by Jerry Crilly’s old band, Rakish Paddy.  Jerry sent one home as a gift for me and the other for his friend Kevin Donleavy, who we managed to locate in mid-November.

This vinyl record is a collector’s item, Kevin tells me.  He played the CD version on his radio show a few weeks back.

Incidentally, he has a new show airing this Saturday, December 29 on the UVA radio station.  Click here for directions on how to listen online.

The vinyl records were both a heartfelt gift from Jerry and a plausible excuse for me to find Kevin — who, I’d informed Jerry, Dave and I would be driving right past on our holiday trek across Virginia.

We met Kevin at his colleague’s studio in Charlottesville.  Mike Heivly has filled the studio, located in a church’s unused classroom, with fascinating poems and images of Ireland.

Mike is as enamored with Irish lore as the rest of us, as you can see by the images of his work.

It turns out, Kevin has enlisted Mike to help with documenting the railway in Charlottesville that was built in the 1850s by about 2,100 Irish and 90 slaves.  A full account is posted by The Blue Ridge Railway Project (at www.clannmhor.org), which explains “Clann Mhór – which in Gaelic means the Great Family – wishes to honor the history of these forgotten railroad workers.”

Mike also has beautiful images of Newgrange and the famine village near Dingle town.

Although Dave and I were instrumental in re-connecting Jerry and Kevin, it turns out that Kevin himself is a master at connecting people. Particularly around subjects of Ireland.  Here’s an email I received from Kevin after our visit:

Hiya, Shannon agus Dave,

That was a pleasant enough event at Mike’s studio Saturday.  You two seemed to enjoy it, too.  Pretty neat projects that Mike gets into.
Thanks for bringing the 33 lp of the Rakes.  Very kind of you to drag it across the western ocean. Lovely songs on it, just as I had dimly recalled.
Am including some info about Iroid sculptor Mark Connelley. Hope his work interests yiz and catches your eyes. Strange, isn’t it, that everybody who goes to Ireland gets caught up in aspects of its culture ? Mirabile dictu, and that ! (Did you know I taught h.s. Latin for years ?)
All the best, Kevin

Dear Kevin,

I am happy to have made a connection with you.  While I hope that a variety of people like my work, I particularly want to make an impression on folks of Irish influence. Much of my work is inspired by the many ancient treasures found in that part of the world. There are some who feel the same connection that I do to this culture, and it is always comforting to hear from them.
The best way to learn about my work is through my website: http://macworks-art.com/. I have images up of most of my work with stories of how each piece was influenced. You can also follow my business page on Facebook (click the ‘F’ below.) I post images there of installations like the one in Charlottesville. I also post discussions and images of other artwork.
I look forward to browsing your links and learning more about your group. I am a big fan too of traditional music. Our local radio station, WNCW, has a show on Saturdays named ‘Celtic Winds.’ They do a fair job, but it consists of too many reels for my wife’s taste. I disagree, but that is the joy of music.
Thanks again for contacting me. I look forward to meeting you in person sometime too.
All the best,



Sculpture & Landscape Art | 828.384.8318 | macworks-art.com


On Nov 7, 2012, at 8:22 PM, KEVIN DONLEAVY wrote:
Hi, Mark,

Was driving in the Emmet Street neighborhood here in Charlottesville the other day and saw your sculpture of  The Storyteller. Very nice work, and in an a propos siting, too, since the street is named after heroic Robert Emmet’s nephew:  John Patten Emmet was chosen by Thomas Jefferson to be on the initial faculty of the new U. Va. in the 1820s. 
Several of us will help spread the word about your sculpture within the Irish mini-community here. There is BRIMS, the Blue Ridge Irish Music School;  you can google them.  I myself do a regular program of Irish trad music on-line and FM on WTJU.org  here  (next show is Sat., Dec.1, from 10 am till 12 noon).  Have a gander at our website, www.clannmhor.org, where our collective is documenting the 2,100 or so Irish and the 90 slaves who built the railway here in the 1850s.  
Why don’t you e-mail and tell me more about your ogham-sculpture and other efforts, which will give us some background to this work of yours.  If you are ever in Cville, especially on a first Sat any month, I can have you chat on the radio program.  How’s that ?
Hope to hear from you,

More Studio Fun

We're going to move the awning up and add signage. (The sign is not there yet.  I PhotoShop-ed in a version to see what it might look like.  The sign will have to be approved by the Downtown Design Review committee.)

We’re going to move the awning up and add signage that looks something like this.

Dave’s studio is in the building at the back of the courtyard (in the top photo). In addition to designing and renovating the inside of the building, we also need to figure out how to use his courtyard well.

I PhotoShop-ed a sign onto the photo to see what that could look like.  In honor of the movie, I’ve used Helvetica font here.  (Please note:  No sign is installed yet.  The design Dave selects will have to be approved by the Downtown Design Review committee before we can do that.  It is likely to be much smaller than what I’m simulating here.)

I’ve included a few photos Dan Bell sent from the other night….

Dave Chance Downtown

We haven’t yet started moving Dave into his new photography studio at 610 High Street, but we’re starting to design how he will use the space.  Our friends Jenn White and Dan Bell met us there the other night to celebrate Dave’s news.

Norfolk’s Freemason Abbey

The view of two churches as we headed to Freemason Abbey (it's the one to the left, across the intersection).

The view of two churches as we headed to Freemason Abbey (it’s the one to the left, across the intersection).

One of favorite Sunday morning haunts is Freemason Abbey, which occupies an old church building in Norfolk’s historic Freemason District.  Dave and I headed there for brunch the day after I returned.  I was still on Irish time and we arrived just as the doors were opening.

Hope you can soak up a bit of the ambiance from the photos I snapped….

It was warm and cozy inside, despite the rain outside.

It was warm and cozy inside, despite the rain outside.

The Abbey is decorated beautifully for Christmas.

The Abbey is decorated beautifully for Christmas.

Fresh Off the Plane

Dave met me at the gate when I arrived into Norfolk “International” Airport. We grabbed my bags and he whisked me off to a dinner party at the McClure’s.  He had made-from-scratch two beautiful lasagnas that were to be the centerpiece of our meal.

We arrived at Glen and Marshall’s home just in time to view the sunset off their back desk and take a quick peek into their lovely garden. Even mid-December, the flowers are abloom in their back yard. For Marshall this seemed like nothing special; this type of flower always blooms this time of year, she said. Hampton Roads (our region, comprised of seven different cities in close proximity) is awash in pink blooms right now.

But the sight of fresh winter blooms left me in awe….

I notice that the flowers looked a lot fresher than I did (sporting my glamorous just-off-the plane aura)!

As the sun dipped below the tree line, we headed in to the McClures’ cozy living room.  We sat around, petting the animals and chatting for a while.

Then, low and behold, Jamie and Mark Lewis showed up at the front door — with party balloons and Christmas gifts in tow.  Mark is a conservator who works at the Chrysler Museum of Art.  We initially met at an art gallery, where he told me he is job is to “clean dirty pictures with Q-tips and spit.”

What a catchy line pick up line!?!

It’s one that worked.  Mark, his wife Jamie, and I have been fast friends from that moment forward.

I’ve so many fond memories of dinners around the McClures’ dinner table(s).

Dinner time!

Dinner time!

As I mentioned, Dave had assembled two delicious lasagnas — one red and one white.  He made them completely from scratch, noodles and all!  The McClures rounded out the selection with a crisp salad and ice cream.

Everyone chipped in bottles of wine they’d socked aways for special occasions.  Dave brought one from Dolceaqua (a Ligurian town we visited this past summer). Marshall contributed some of the finest from her brother’s Virginia winery. And Jamie, knowing Marshall’s preference for pale wines, shared a delightful bottle of white.

I have to say:  this was the perfect way to spend my first evening back in the States.  Seeing people I love gave my heart such a lift!

Home with Dave for the Holidays

There’s so much going on that I want to tell you about.  For now, I’ll just say how wonderful it is to be back at home in Portsmouth, Virginia with my Dave.  I’ll show you what life is like here–very soon!

The home of Dave and Shannon Chance in Portsmouth's Port Norfolk Historic District.

The home of Dave and Shannon Chance in Portsmouth’s Port Norfolk Historic District.

Shannon and Dave visiting friends on the way home from the airport.

Shannon and Dave visiting friends on the way home from the airport.