Local Artist Check-In: Virginia Rieley and Eliza Evans

Posted on August 6, 2014 by


Local people, local places, local wine. Mixed media artist Virginia Rieley and acrylic portrait painter Eliza Evans are collaborating for a show at Blenheim Vineyards, opening this Friday. One of their many collaborative projects, the exhibit will highlight a few of Charlottesville’s familiar “faces and places.” Eliza’s portraits of Blenheim staff along with Virginia’s mixed-media Charlottesville scenes will hang in the tasting room for the month of August, giving a sense of place and personal touch to Dave Matthews’ popular local vineyard.

Portrait of Dave Matthews, Acrylic on Wood, Eliza Evans.

Portrait of Dave Matthews, Acrylic on Wood, Eliza Evans

Both natives of the area, Eliza and Virginia are inspired by the beauty of their every day lives in Charlottesville. For Virginia, it could be the way the light hits one of her favorite buildings on her walk home from work, or a photograph she took of a striking flower. For Eliza, it could be the diversity of the people around her or the emotions she sees in the face of a subject. These themes and inspirations show through in their work and will be evident in the upcoming exhibit.

The two Charlottesville artists also incorporate creative humor when they combine their talents. Another project they consistently collaborate on is the “Every Day is a Holiday Calendar,” which gives each day of the year an original purpose with illustrations to match. From “Lose Your Inhibitions Day,” to “Strut Your Stuff Day,” the calendar is a fun project that provides inspiration and unique goals to strive for everyday. Check out the calendar’s Facebook page for daily updates or order your own from Etsy.

Meet Virginia and Eliza at the opening of Faces & Places this Friday, August 8th at Blenheim Vineyards from 6 to 8pm. Enjoy local wine while observing Eliza’s acrylic on wood portraits and Virginia’s mixed media collages. You might see someone you know!

Virginia Rieley and Eliza Evans

Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? If not Cville, what brought you here?

We both grew up in the area, in North Garden, just outside of Charlottesville.  We have been friends since kindergarten and collaborate often.  Every year since 2006 we have co-authored a calendar called the Every Day is a Holiday Calendar, with 365 original holidays that we (mostly) made up. It features Eliza’s portraits and Virginia’s mixed media collages and hand-drawn calendar grids.

When and why did you start making art? What mediums have you worked with, or particularly enjoy?

Eliza: I started painting portraits of my friends on a mural in my house in 2006 for fun.  My main medium is acrylic on wood, occasionally paper and canvas.

Virginia: I identify as both a writer and a visual artist, and I have always done both.  I do mixed media collages that are a combination of my own photographs, painting, and different kinds of paper that I find.


“Frida Painting Flowers on Carters Mountain Road,” mixed media collage, Virginia Rieley

Most influential artist as a child? Teen? Adult?

Eliza: My dad, local artist John Borden Evans (Check out his show opening at Les Yeux du Monde, July 25-August 31!)

Virginia: I have a collection of illustrated children’s books that I love as a child, and they continue to inspire me as an adult.

What aspects of life excite you, stir your affections, fuel your passions, inspire your art? What influences your art?

Eliza: My children stir my affections. My passions are fueled by funny and interesting people. I always paint from life, so I like looking at people’s faces while I paint them and finding out about them. Hopefully the experience is pleasant for them too. My portraits take between 30 minutes and an hour, and they are almost always done in one sitting.

Virginia: I am inspired by beauty and humor; I love to combine the two.


Acrylic on wood portraits, Eliza Evans

What message(s) do you convey through your art? What do you want people to take from seeing your art?

Eliza: Since mine are all portraits, people.  I want the viewer to see the diversity of friendly faces.

Virginia:  Capturing beauty in the everyday, from nature to cityscapes. I want it to be beautiful to look at, but I also want it to have a sense of humor and be fun.

What does a day in the life of an artist look like from your perspective?

Eliza: I’m a mother of two small children so I don’t always get time to paint. I have other hobbies that also fill my daily life in addition to my art. Right now, I’m reading a lot about permaculture and working on an edible food forest.

Virginia: It’s always different.  I try to keep my artistic edge by hovering close to the poverty line. It keeps things exciting.

What makes Cville special for artists of all forms?

Eliza and Virginia: All of the other artists!  There is a lot of talent here and the downtown mall is a big plus. In addition to the visual artists, there’s also a great music scene. We’re both huge fans of local band Red and the Romantics. Red writes all of his own songs and performs every Monday night at The Whiskey Jar and every Tuesday at Durty Nelly’s, which we often attend.


“The Crescent,” mixed media collage, Virginia Rieley

Favorite place in Cville to… be creative?

 Eliza: My own house.
Virginia: Going for walks around town taking photographs.

Favorite place in Cville to… see art?

Eliza: My own house, my dad’s studio.
Virginia: Eliza’s house.

Favorite place in Cville to… grab a bite?

 Eliza: Hamilton’s for lunch, Dr. Ho’s.
Virginia: Blue Moon, Maya.

Favorite place in Cville to… get a drink?

 Eliza and Virginia: Blenheim Vineyards!

What does the not-so-distant future hold for you and your art?

We are having a two-person show in the tasting room of Blenheim Vineyards for the month of August.  Eliza will show portraits of the Blenheim staff and Virginia will show mixed-media collages inspired by local scenes.  The opening reception will be Friday, August 8, from 6-8 pm.  Blenheim Vineyards is also open for tastings every day from 11:00-5:30.  Come taste some great wine and enjoy some local art!

Lastly… Describe yourself in 10 words or less.

Eliza: Privileged playful parent, painting portraits, and planing and planting permaculture.
Virginia: Young, broke, and beautiful.