Posted on

Welcome, April 2015!

Ivy Market photo

No foolin’! April has finally arrived. Let’s hope she doesn’t have any jokes (i.e. snow) up her sleeve. There’s too much to do this month to have to worry about nasty weather. Here’s a peak at what we are looking forward to this month.

Botanicals & Abstract Imaginings by Mary Kathryn Holden Woodward

Mary Kathryn Holden Woodward at Ruth & Ollie

one of our featured Artists … in Residence in her first show
opening reception
Thursday, April 2nd 6-9 pm 
continuing through April 30th


A River Runs Through Us

A River Runs Through Us

April 3rd – 30th
VCU artists supporting VCU’s Rice Rivers Center



aMl’s Cross © The Gracious Posse

Sunday, April 5th


When Art Meets Fashion

When Art Meets Fashion

Saturday, April 11th
6:30 p.m.
contemporary art auction by Reynolds Gallery
Diane von Furstenberg fashion show and shopping
cocktails, music and food
to benefit the future Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU
get tickets here


Art for Autism

Art for Autism

Friday, April 17th
6:30 p.m.
Altria Theatre
to benefit the Faison School for Autism
more information here


The Gracious Posse Yard Sale

purging © The Gracious Posse

we are taking our own purging advice and hosting a huge yard sale
household items, furnishings, books, games and sporting equipment
Saturday, April 18th
8 a.m. – 12 noon
500 Kilmarnock Drive
contact Alison at for more information


Artful Healing

Artful Healing

Saturday, April 18th
10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
University of Richmond
Jepson Alumni Center


SCAN Progressive Dinner & Auction

SCAN Progressive Dinner & Auction

Saturday, April 18th
5 p.m. – midnight
Tuckahoe Women’s Club and homes (including Ellen’s) in and around RVA’s near West End


Lilly Pulitzer Debuts at Target

Lilly Pulitzer for Target

this hot sale starts Sunday, April 19th


Unlock 2015


a party to support ART 180 programs
Thursday, April 23rd, 6:30 to 8:30 
Atlas, ART 180’s teen art center
114 West Marshall St. in the Arts District


12th Annual Georgetown French Market

Georgetown French Market

Saturday, April 23rd & Sunday, April 24th
D.C.’s Upper Wisconsin Avenue, between P Street and Reservoir Road – known as Book Hill


10th Annual ASK 5K & Fun Walk

ASK 5K Walk

ASK Celebrates 40 Years of Making Life Better for Kids with Cancer
Saturday, April 25  
The Diamond


Historic Garden Week

Historic Garden Week daffodil field

April 18th – 25th
tour beautiful homes and gardens throughout the Commonwealth
Richmond tours, sponsored by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts’s The Art of the Flower exhibition, take place April 22nd-24th
get more information here


Ivy Market

Ivy Market

Wednesday, April 29th 4-9 (Ladies night out-cash bar)
Thursday, April 30th 9-3 
The University of Richmond


With so many art-related events, let’s call this month Arts in April! Hope to see you at some of them! What are you looking forward to this month?


April 1, 2015 

Posted on

Spanish Souvenirs, or What I Learned on the Way to the Alhambra


My favorite souvenirs from a trip are not the ones found in a fabulous leather goods shop. While there’s nothing wrong with shopping, I’d rather go home with an appreciation for the land and culture than a fabulous handbag. Ok, the handbag is a bonus. Here’s what I brought home from Spain.

Acanthus Leaves

Do you know what kind of leaves adorn these Corinthian columns and other stately carvings?

carved acanthus Collage © The Gracious Posse

They are acanthus leaves,

Acanthus Collage © The Gracious Posse

which thrive in the climate of southern Spain. I can’t pass a single Corinthian column

Corinthian column at St. James's © The Gracious Posse

without looking for them now.

Monkey Business

Speaking of carvings, did you know that craftsmen used elaborate carving to tell stories to the illiterate population? We learned that the monkey image

Monkey Collage © The Gracious Posse

represented sexual or lewd activity. These images that we spotted in the cloisters of the San Juan de los Reys monastery were evidently carved to remind the monks to keep their minds out of the gutter and focus on the sacred.

Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus is just as important to the Spaniards as he is to Americans.

Columbus statue in Granada © The Gracious PosseColumbus presenting his voyage contract to Queen Isabella

Columbus’ discovery of the riches in the New World ushered in Spain’s glory days, which lasted about 80 years, until the Spanish Armada was defeated by the English. Monuments, plazas, streets and shops bear Columbus’s name, and the country also celebrates Columbus Day on October 12.

Star of David

The 6-pointed Star of David held no religious symbolism until 1897 when the Jewish community selected it to appear on its flag at the First Zionist Congress. Until then, it was merely a geometric design (along with its cousin the 8-pointed star) that adorned tiles, plaster walls and gardens.

6-point star at Real Alcazar © The Gracious Posse6-point star at Real Alcázar

6-point star in garden of Alhambra © The Gracious Posseand in garden at the Alhambra.

8-point star Collage © The Gracious Posse

The ubiquitous 8-point star was a favorite of Islamist artisans. It can be found carved in wood, molded in plaster, laid in tile and even in the elaborate ceiling of the Palace of the Alhambra.

Bullfighting History

We discovered that bullfighting originated on horseback. A sport for noblemen, it 

Bullfighter on horseback © The Gracious Posse
evolved from medieval knights training for battle on horseback. Around 1726 Francisco Romero – in Ronda – asked permission to fight the bull sans horse, and a new style of bullfighting evolved. Ronda became known as the home of modern bullfighting, while Romero is credited with introducing the cape and thus the art of the brave matador.

Washington Irving

Until visiting Spain a few weeks ago, I had not given Washington Irving, author of Rip Van Winkle and Tales of Sleepy Hollow, a thought in several years, but he was quite popular with the Spanish. Irving traveled to Spain at the invitation of the American Minister to Spain in 1829, and during his year there, he was inspired to research several works, including Tales of the Alhambra.

Washington Irving plaque at Alhambra © The Gracious Posse

Later in life, Irving served as the U.S. Ambassador to Spain. 

Semana Santa de Sevilla: Holy Week in Seville

Capriote in Triana © The Gracious PosseThe Capriote is a traditional costume worn by parading members of the church brotherhood.

Holy Week in Sevilla is celebrated  in a big way. Beginning on Palm Sunday and ending early on the morning of Good Friday, brotherhoods of the local churches parade from their home church to the Cathedral in Seville. Depending on how you feel about crowds, this may or may not be the week for you to be in Seville ~ kind of like being in New Orleans for Mardi Gras. Crowds throng to see the elaborate floats depicting the Passion of Christ, a tradition for over 500 years.

The penitent in the parade wear the capriote, like the one shown above. Its pointed, hooded mask shields the identity of the wearer. We had a visceral reaction to the costume, which bears a creepy resemblance to the KKK’s robes. Seems some misguided Southerners hijacked the holy costume for evil purposes.


Salud! © The Gracious Posse

Did you know it’s bad luck to click glasses and exclaim ¡Salud! without looking each toaster in the eye? Now you do.

The benefits  of using a travel advisor

Juan in Cordoba © The Gracious PosseWalking with Juan through Cordoba’s narrow maze of streets.

When I told the family we were using tour guides in each city in Spain, I heard a collective groan from across the miles. My offspring immediately had visions of being herded through crowds with a droning narrative in their ears. They of little faith! Thanks to travel advisor Caroline Wallace and her Brownell network of experts, we were entertained, guided and educated at each of our cities and at strategic times so as to avoid the crowds. In fact, each of the nuggets I shared with you came to me by way of one of our tour guides. The guides act as mini-ambassadors to their region, making sure we returned home with positive impressions and a longing to return. 

Using a travel advisor also eased the hassles of traveling as a family of five. Being in the know (and knowing the language), Caroline & company arranged our hotels and ground transportation, leaving us free to enjoy the destinations without having to bicker over logistics. Now that’s a true holiday. ¡Salud!


March 30, 2015

Posted on

Her Sister’s Shoes Cover Reveal

Her Sisters Shoes - Ebook

We are thrilled to reveal the cover of Ashley Farley’s latest novel, Her Sister’s Shoes, to you today.

Her Sisters Shoes by Ashley Farley

Scheduled to be released on June 24th, you can pre-order the Kindle version now here.Visit Ashley’s blog, Chronicles . . . An Avid Reader and Indie Author, for a chance to win a copy.

While Ashley’s choice of the eye-catching cover should be enough to convince you to buy the book, this synopsis should whet your appetite even more in planning your summer reading:

Her Sister’s Shoes is a contemporary women’s novel that proves the healing power of family. Set in the South Carolina Lowcountry and packed with Southern charm and memorable characters, Her Sister’s Shoes is the story of three sisters—Samantha, Jackie, and Faith—who struggle to balance the demands of career and family while remaining true to themselves.

In the midst of their individual challenges, the Sweeney sisters must cope with their mother’s mental decline. Is Lovie in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, or is her odd behavior normal for a woman her age? No one, including Lovie, understands her obsession with a rusty key she wears around her neck.

Lucky me, I got a pre-release copy, and I loved it! In fact I told Ashley that I hated for the story to end. The three sisters around whom the story revolves are so relatable, and their challenges provide enough suspense to keep you reading late into the night without losing their realism. I am so in awe of good storytellers, and Ashley is becoming a great one! If you are a fan of Dorothea Benton Frank’sLowcountry tales, you’ve got to read Ashley’s new book.

Murrells Inlet

After you finish it, I bet you will want to take a road-trip to the town of Prospect where most of the story takes place. Though the beautifully-described small town is just a figment of Ashley’s imagination, she has included on her website photos of images (like the one above of Murrells Inlet, South Carolina) that inspired her as she was writing Her Sister’s Shoes. I am already hoping that she will choose to revisit the book’s setting in a future work.

Saving Ben by Ashley Farley

If you need a good read before June 24th, why not download Ashley’s first novel, Saving Ben?It’s a very different story but also filled with sibling relations and suspense. Set in Charlottesville and Carter’s Creek, Virginia, our RVA followers will recognize many of the locations her college-aged characters visit. This weekend you can download it on Amazonfor only $.99.

As most great novelists do, Ashley writes about the places she knows. She was born and raised in South Carolina’s Lowcountry. Since graduating from college in North Carolina, where she met her Richmond-born-and-bred husband, Ashley has lived in Virginia and raised her now college-aged children here right alongside many of the posse. You can visit Ashley at her favorite writing spot located on Carter’s Creek in Writer . . . in Residence.

You will be hearing more about Her Sister’s Shoes as the publication date approaches, but for now we are delighted to put it on your radar. It’s a perfect beach read written by one of the posse. Why not reserve your copy now?


March 27, 2015