Five is far too small a number to encompass all the visual arts shows that stood out from the crowd in what was a remarkably good year in
But here's my annual list of exhibits that were so distinguished and rewarding that they deserve extra attention:
"Swamp and Other Wetlands," oil paintings and watercolors by Ray M. Hershberger. Feb. 7-March 16, This Century Gallery, Williamsburg. More than 2 years of study and painting enabled this noted Norfolk artist to transform a previously unsuspected realm of roadside marshes, swamps and even algae-laden ditches into evocative visions of both the physical world and some deeper, less easily defined power.
"30 Americans," contemporary works by African-American artists from the Rubell Family Collection. March 16-July 15.
"African-American Art: Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights Era, and Beyond," from the collection of the Smithsonian American Museum of Art. Sept. 28-Jan. 6, 2013. Muscarelle Museum of Art,
"Chihuly at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts," featuring individual works and gallery-size installations by pioneering studio glass artist Dale Chihuly. Oct. 20-Feb. 10, 2013. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts,
But what you saw made the crowds and the drive to Richmond more than worthwhile.
"50 Great American Artists," 50th Anniversary Celebration Exhibition. Oct. 21-Jan. 13, 2012.