Tuesday, April 14, 2015

My First Official Post-Lenten Bitch

I’ve been saving this blog post since our jaunt to the Carpenter Center in Richmond to hear the symphony do a Mozart concert back in March.  I couldn’t write it before because it was during Lent and I’d given up bitching and moaning for the duration. 

And this time, the bitching and moaning is not about the music.  The program was wonderful and I didn’t nod off once (I am a known philistine).  No, the B & M’ing is about the horror that is the Carpenter Center itself.  And not in a fun, kitchy horror like The Theatre Formally Known As The  Mosque.  The Carpenter Center is a truly terrible mishmash monument to bad taste. 

Do not allow that beautiful outside shot above to fool you.  The outer halls are a conglomeration of Roman, Greek, Moorish, Spanish with peculiar chairs and railing and columns. 

The auditorium itself looks like something that was got up for some lugubrious Italian opera (all fat sopranos and sweaty tenors).   And as if some committee said, “Well, we’ve already spent the money, let’s just leave it”:
The ceiling is supposed to look like the sky, I think.  But to me it looks so much like the undulating sea floor that I actually got a little mal de mer. 

And what the hell are these:
Clouds?  A poor imitation of Calder? 

I don’t know who made all of the decisions about the redecoration of this space but it is typical of our fair city, I’m afraid.  Richmond officials seem to spend most of their time with their heads up their posteriors.  I just found out the one of their current plans is to eliminate over 700 on street parking spaces on our major thoroughfare to make way for a bus lane.  They do these things and then wonder why no one in the suburbs ever comes downtown.  


  1. (sigh) I really miss Lent for some reason. ;-)

  2. the clouds are actually acoustic sound baffles that can be repositioned for various performances to optimize the quality and projection of the sound. For years, acoustic clouds and canopies have been used to control sound. They can be made of ridged material to reflect sound waves or soft material to absorb it depending on their purpose. In theatres, reflective clouds are often visible in the form of hard, curved devices that are arrayed and suspended above the stage. Theatres use theses types of clouds to reflect sound back toward the stage so that the musician can get a sense of intimacy. These reflective type acoustic clouds provide the natural ambiance of a smaller room within a cavernous hall, thus allowing the performer to better interact within the acoustic environment. Pretty interesting, huh?

  3. Richmond is all about history. The theater was not redecorated, only restored to it's original style,The basic seats are the original but upholstered and a number were removed for additional leg room (although the last few rows of first balcony are still too tight). Back in 1928, when the Theater was opened, there were live parrots in cages as part of the decor in the lobby.The parrot motif is picked up in the carpeting and in the mosaics behind the refreshment bars. you will also find parrot replicas on ledges above the main lobby.
    Here is the Wiki history on the original: As a prominent New York architect, John Eberson conceived a design for the Loew's Theatre Corporation influenced by both Moorish and Spanish baroque structures. According to architectural historian Calder Loth, "Loew's was considered the most up-to-date theater in the South when it opened on April 9, 1928."[3] Eberson was famous for having invented the "atmospheric theatre" design in which the theater walls resembled an elegant villa or streetscape under a night sky. The Carpenter Theatre design evokes a Spanish setting with a faux sky ceiling containing stars and moving clouds.
    This explains a little about why the Center Stage complex has this decor.

  4. Oh, My, My Dear!!! Do sit down. Now, all better.

    The clouds seem to be from that part of the Universe in which tee-ninecy cherub Michelin Men are formed, and from your description, all the rest was put together by an indecisive committee. All the architectural styles seem to be like those faddish apartments of the 'teens and 'twenties, in which ladies of ton arranged cushions into a "Moorish corner" and lay about on divans, having salons and soirees, when they weren't capering barefoot on lawns in some Grecian tableau, trailing ribbons and tripping on their chitons.

    I love that you said mal de mer, for I've been immersed in Poirot when I'm not clutching paint cards and mumbling.of pinks like M'Lynn Eatenton.

    You DO know how to make a point, and you say it so WELL. Me, I just blurt---you're good on the spur, but you're absolutely lethal when you've had time to simmer.

    And tell Mr. Sassy SAST that he just might better think a while before HE speaks, as well.

    Counting the days til JUNE,


    1. My dear friend, by your description, you could have been with me that night – snide asides, wiggling eyebrows and all! Wish you had been and can’t wait until June!

  5. Hello Kim,

    We have no wish to add to your already raised blood pressure, but, we have to say that we rather like the Carpenter Theatre. We can well imagine ourselves sitting under the starry blue sky and being transported into another world by symphonies or screenplays. The white clouds floating by would all add to this delightfully surreal scene.

    Whatever, it certainly must make an incredible landmark in the city centre in all its 1920s glamour. Yes, yes, darling Kim, next time you are 'downtown', you must put on the flapper dress, dress your hair with a fascinator and enjoy! May we come too?!

    1. Oh, my dears! You haven’t (and couldn’t) added anything bad to me! My mother always said that differing tastes were why God made chocolate AND vanilla and she’s right, as usual. I adore the outside, it’s just the inside that makes my teeth hurt and could I attend something there in the far back days with you, I’d put on the dress and race all the way downtown!

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