On Stage With My Favorite Punk Rock Artist

Artist Ed Trask is probably tired of hearing me talk about the possibility that he is a reincarnation of my grandfather, who studied fine art at what isnow Virginia Commonwealth University and spent most of his artistic career painting signs, billboards and water towers (photo, above).

I remember when I met Ed. It was a Sunday afternoon, and we were both students at VCU. One of his first bands was playing at a club on Laurel Street. (I wrote about that in 2011 in the Floricane newsletter.)

He’s been a friend and inspiration ever since.

In October, I somehow managed to (finally) share a stage with Ed. We were making art, not music.

A brilliant idea hatched by Ed and Hands On Richmond’s Vanessa Diamond needed some facilitated set-up during the Collaborative Leadership Conference hatched by the Partnership for Nonprofit Excellence, Greater Richmond Chamber and Leadership Metro Richmond.

The idea: Take 1,200 metal birds, have community leaders at the conference and visitors to the Richmond Folk Festival write inspiring messages, and create an art installation – a physical, community murmuration.

And so Ed talked about his artistic vision, and I worked to connect the dots between the idea and the individual passions and commitments of the 300+ conference participants. Following our joint appearance, the group migrated into an adjoining room to pen their messages and hang their birds on a temporary installation.

It only takes a couple of birds to inspire a flock, as Vanessa and Ed discovered.