Local artist Daniel Pritchett and guitarist John Conley hold the Byrd Theatre close to their hearts and are reaching out to help the Byrd Theatre after it was broken into and robbed in July.
Pictured: “Byrd Theatre” by Daniel Pritchett, 30” x 44” Acrylic on Canvas, 2004
After being broken into and robbed in July, Richmond landmark the Byrd Theatre is in a blitz for cash and Richmonders are quick to help. The Byrd launched a marketing campaign (“Give Richmond the Byrd”) and hosted the premiere of an amazingly terrible movie set in Richmond in the 80s called Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel. The response has put a dent in their goal, but the $1 million mark — the funds needed to renovate the theatre’s seats and bathrooms — is a long way off.
Local artist Daniel Pritchett holds the Byrd close to his heart and is reaching out to help the Byrd Theatre Foundation, enlisting his friend and guitarist John Conley. On Tuesday night, Conley’s trio with bassist Rusty Farmer and drummer Aaron Binder, and bluegrass bands The Hot Seats and Sandwich Kings will perform at the Davis & Main bar and restaurant, where Pritchett bartends. Pritchett will be selling prints of his painting “Byrd Theatre,” as well as the original.
The Byrd, Pritchett says, captured his interest early on after moving to Richmond:
I moved to the Fan District in 2001 after finishing my Fine Arts BFA in Mississippi, and began going to the Byrd Theatre regularly, attracted by the beautiful architecture and unique experience. As I got more involved in the local arts scene, I noticed that while there were several drawings and small watercolors of the Byrd Theatre around town, there weren’t any large, well rendered paintings of the Byrd. I thought that the architecture of the Byrd Theatre warranted this kind of treatment, and took it upon myself to make it happen. So, I started to work on the painting in 2003, using dozens of photographs and visits to the Byrd as source material. It ended up taking approximately 600 work hours to complete over the course of a year and a half. In that time, I proposed (at the Byrd Theatre), got married, and my son was born on November 16, 2004. The painting was finally completed shortly after the birth of my son, Jackson. Essentially, I stared at the Byrd Theatre for a year and a half during the most important time of my life thus far.
I made some reproductions of the painting with the help of SFA Fine Art Services, and donated the first canvas print to the Byrd Theatre. Todd Schall-Vess was very gracious and thankful, and has displayed it in the Byrd Theatre lobby ever since. I put order forms in the Byrd Theatre lobby in case anybody wanted to purchase a print, and donated a percentage of the sale to the Byrd Theatre Foundation.
Fast forward to 3 weeks ago…. Robert Noland, the owner of Davis & Main brought to my attention that there were several news articles about the Byrd Theatre’s financial straits. As we talked about it, Robert suggested that it would be a good time to start using my prints to help raise money for the BTF again. I heartily agreed and got right to work on what has now become “Byrd Prints – Benefitting the Byrd Theatre Foundation.” The original painting hangs in Davis & Main, so Robert and I decided to hold a Byrd Theatre Benefit Party at Davis & Main, in conjunction with the Byrd Prints Fundraiser to try to get word out about the fundraiser, as well as use the party itself to raise funds for the Byrd Theatre Foundation.
His friend, Conley, plays every Tuesday night at Davis & Main. “We thought that would be a good fit for a benefit party,” he says. “John constantly impresses us with his diversity of playing styles and pulls some of Richmond’s great talent to play with him on a weekly basis. It was really a given to hold it on jazz night.”
Conley has been playing on Tuesday nights at Davis & Main for five years, and also sees the Byrd as an important landmark in Richmond. “I grew up going there,” he says. “[I] went to midnight movies in high school and continued going there through college. My parents have stories about going there as kids. It’s a very important part of Richmond for me, so I’m happy to do anything I can to help.”
The Byrd Theatre Benefit Party will take place at Davis & Main on Tuesday, September 21, from 4pm to 2am. Davis & Main is located at 2501 W. Main St. (at Davis). The Hot Seats will be playing from 4 to 7, John Conley with Rusty Farmer & Aaron Binder from 7:30 to 10:30, and the Sandwich Kings from 11-2. For more info, visit the Facebook event page or call (804) 353-6641. View event details.