the state

– of amy. by vastate
Tuesday, 18 November 2008, 14:44
Filed under: -of art, -of bios, -of eats, -of localism, -of townie-to-townie

i was at the little grill the other night.

our server was amy umbel.  she was nice and brought our good food out to us.  we talked a little.  she mentioned two things in passing that got my attention:

1.) she recently quit her job at a bank to come work at the grill.  she makes less money now.  she is happier now.

2.) she is an artist.  some of her art was hanging in the corner.  we should check it out.

so we did:


image from amy's website/portfolio

i asked amy as i was leaving if she would be willing to do one of our townie-to-townie interviews.  we agreed on an email format as less intimidating, and so it was.  here are excerpts from our exchange.

{she tried to tell me that “my language is based in pictures not words” and that her writing isn’t the best, but, whatever, amy….}

of what harrisonburg needs: community leadership

I waffled back and forth trying to think of some innovative idea that would make Harrisonburg awesome. But, to tell the truth, what I want more than anything is a good leader to follow. I’m not speaking about politics, but rather a community leader or someone on the grassroots level. Having said that, I can think of a great example in Ron Copeland. If we had four or five Ron’s running around, Harrisonburg would be exponentially better, especially for people who are sidelined by our government and its policies. What we need are people who care enough to spend time trying to make a difference.


ron copeland talks...

of what harrisonburg needs: downtown support and funding

As an artist, I would love to see Downtown Harrisonburg continue to receive support and funding. Since I starting living here, the downtown scene has GREATLY improved, but it would be nice to see a large space dedicated to hosting bigger bands/musicians and artists of all kinds. But, it seems much easier to get people to support musical arts than fine arts. It all starts with baby steps. If you’ve got one area of the arts thriving it will become easier to find interest and resources for the rest, so I believe it would be wise to start with musicians.

local band mild winter; photo by amy

local band mild winter; photo by amy

of being an artist in harrisonburg: i belong where i am.

As far as being an artist in a small town goes- I don’t have anything to compare it with. I’ve always been an artist in a small town. In fact, moving to Harrisonburg was moving to the big city for me (3 years ago). Often I hear, “What are you doing here?” as if I should be in some prestigious graduate school or New York City, like that would make me a better artist or I’d some how have more to say there. Often I feel to go to an epicenter of art would mold me into a preset form of an artist. Who’s to say one place or another is where an artist belongs? I belong where I am, and if I choose to go somewhere else, then I’ll belong there.

of the little grill collective: magnetism

Artistically speaking, working at the Little Grill has been a blessing. The Grill seems to be a magnet for interesting people of all social settings. That magnetism is certainly not something you see at a financial institution (my previous employer), in fact they’re almost polar opposites. While I certainly made enough money at my last job, I was quite literally artistically stagnate for 2 years. Finally, I decided to take a step into the unknown- away from 401K’s and health insurance and into the uncertainty of a worker owned business. I couldn’t have made a better decision.

we like amy’s art.  it is difficult & complex at times.

check out her beautiful website for more art and thoughts.

thanks amy!


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