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“Creative Lab” Aims To Bring Art World Closer Together

by Gene Marrano

A work by Brian Zickafoose, who will create on site at Kirk Avenue Music Hall.

There are plenty of artists of all stripes trying to make a go of it in the Roanoke area, and no shortage of organizations that strive to help them. One group wants to make sure that the valley’s artistic community comes together around a common goal, and to that end they are sponsoring a unique event at Kirk Avenue Music Hall on February 17.

“Lupercalia” – a name derived from an ancient Roman observance designed to ward off evil spirits – will feature local visual artists Brian Zickafoose and Danny Phillips. The pair will create a painting during the free event (Thursday, Feb. 17 from 7:30-11pm) and then auction it off online, with proceeds going to a local non-profit.

Music will be provided by D.J. Rahbee and Dr. Noe; costumes are encouraged. Lupercalia is the brainchild of “16 Blocks Creative Labs,” an offshoot of the magazine of the same name.

Tyler Godsey, a Roanoke native who heads up 16 Blocks Creative Labs, hopes that Lupercalia, for those 18 and up, is the first of many such events geared towards bringing together the artistic community in Roanoke and southwest Virginia. Godsey, who works by day for Ride Solutions, said there is no shortage of organizations that aim to support local artists, although they are not always rowing their oars in the same direction. “There are a lot of battles going on for attention,” said Godsey.

“You have a lot of people competing for attention [and] dollars,” said Godsey, who adds that 16 Blocks Creative Labs really wants to support artists who are operating below the radar screen in many cases. “They’re hidden right in our back yard – they’re your neighbors,” said Godsey, “[and] they’ve never been told that what they do is beautiful.”

Godsey said artists in the Roanoke and New River Valleys, and outlying communities like Floyd, should be working to support each other. “We really believe in regionalism.”

16 Blocks Creative Labs hopes to be a mechanism that does just that – helps the local artistic community network to “bring together the creative minds that are around us… to come up with some type of collaborative effort.” 16 Blocks, an arts and culture magazine now several years old, has staged events in Blacksburg for some time; Lupercalia is the first slated for Roanoke.

“Creation really happens spontaneously,” said Godsey, noting that neither the visual artists nor the musicians scheduled to take part on Feb. 17 have worked together before.  They’ll see what happens. “Even if it looks like a train wreck [initially] you can certainly see the underlying beauty [at the end],” said Godsey.

“I think [Lupercalia] will be a start [for 16 Blocks Creative Labs]. A lot of the shows that we’ve had success with in Blacksburg…have all been very intimate. We’re just looking to recognize a group of people that recognize the power of collaboration.” Lupercalia will be that first collaboration in the Roanoke area for 16 Blocks. (See for more information on Lupercalia)

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