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Tom Tom encapsulates reality of area

Published on The Daily Progress

Tom Tom encapsulates reality of area

The Ix Art Park is like a phoenix from the ashes in that it has risen from a desolate, overgrown warehouse with its cold, banausic concrete walls to a lively vibrant hub of creative activity that complements the revitalization of the neighborhood that surrounds it.

This weekend, the park will host the Tom Tom Fall Block Party, providing a taste of things to come in the spring 2016 Tom Tom Founders Festival. Like the Ix, Tom Tom has risen from nothing short of a dream to become a reality that celebrates all that is loved and respected about Charlottesville.

Music, art in all its forms and innovation will be the central themes of the weekend’s events. Friday afternoon and evening’s celebration will ride on the tradition of the recently concluded Fridays After Five season, during which the city came together at the end of the work week to unwind, visit with neighbors and friends, enjoy food and beverages and revel in the talent that is so uniquely Charlottesville.

Tom Tom interjects a twist to the tradition by honoring community members who have been selected as this year’s Founding Cville recipients. The founders, recognized for “groundbreaking and original work that has impacted Charlottesville and the world,” include musician Boyd Tinsley of Dave Mathews Band; Phil Wendel, founder of ACAC; and Zach Buckner of Relay Foods, among others.

The artistic creativity that is so unique to and embraced by Charlottesville is a cornerstone of Saturday’s celebrations. Fleaville, held from noon to 7 p.m. will feature more than 40 local and regional artisans. The Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative will host artist Aaron Eichorst, producing an environmentally conscious Waterwise Chalk Mural at the intersection of Sixth Street and Monticello Avenue. And the Art Social, sponsored by Piedmont Council of the Arts, offers a tent with all the comforts of living room, to provide a comfortable atmosphere for artists to sit down together to network and collaborate.

Gram Slaton, executive director of PCA, explained the importance of the Art Social: “Whether you are a newcomer, or just haven’t stretched out of your circle, the Arts Social gives you the opportunity to learn about all the great local resources that make Charlottesville such a unique arts ecosystem.”

Another key component of Tom Tom’s spring festival is its focus on innovation, one of the driving forces of our local economy. Block party sponsor GovSmart and PsiKick will join more than 50 tech firms in a Technology Mixer, intended to build the local tech community, connect tech knowledge workers and offer recruitment opportunities. Brendan Richardson, co-founder and CEO of PsiKick, described why his company is getting involved with the Tech Mixer: “Being a founder of a startup in Charlottesville and knowing a number of other founders, we talk about the need to bring the technology community closer together and foster more interaction among entrepreneurs, inventors and investors.”

At the core of the Block Party is the music. Curated by the Levitt AMP Music Series, which brings its lineup of free music to Ix Art Park through the fall, an eclectic collection of local and regional acts will offer a mix of folk, indie rock, reggae, psychedelic funk and electronic jam to the weekend’s free music series.

Charlottesville’s own Michael Coleman kicks off Friday’s music with his bluesy, jazz infused sound. Other sounds on the schedule include the electronic jams of Galaxy Dynamite, the alternative rock of Kendall Street Company and the reggae sounds of Positive Collective, just to name a few.

Ix Art Park’s “interactive space for spontaneous dreaming” will be transformed into an interactive space for unlimited possibilities. A complete schedule of events is available at


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