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Richard Lee Bland collection of Richmond memorabilia

Identifier: M 32

Scope and Contents

Collection consists of a variety of Richmond, Virginia related materials that Bland has gathered since the 1970s. The collection includes three original architectural drawings of Richmond's Cathedral of the Sacred Heart; drawings of plans and photographs of what was to become the power house of the Virginia Railway and Power Co. on Richmond's 12th Street and numerous other early 20th century drawings and materials documenting electrical plans for the city.The collection also contains material documenting the arts in Richmond from the 1890s to the present, including material on the various art organizations that have existed in the city; rock music of the 1980s; and correspondence and other material regarding Bland's Grove Avenue Gallery (1982-1984). Other materials related to the history of Richmond include late 19th and early 20th century business invoices and correspondence; streetcar ephemera of the 1940s; and numerous published materials and a wide assortment of ephemera items and photographs relating to wide cross section of Richmond's cultural history.


  • Creation: 1885-1995


Access Restrictions

Collection is open to research.

Use Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Biographical / Historical

Richmond artist Richard Lee Bland (1950-) has been active in the Richmond art scene since 1968 after his admission into the School of the Arts, Richmond Professional Institute (now VCU). Bland describes himself as an impressionist painter. His vision for art developed from performance and conceptual art in tangent with "a compelling belief in impressionistic painting." Bland's mentor, Eliot Clark (1883-1980), an American Impressionist, was the last surviving participant of the Cos Cob Art Colony (1890-1900). Bland is critical of commercial art galleries, co-operative groups, and university art education practices. "I believe the artist must maintain an aesthetic apart from institutional curriculum," Bland said in 1995. "Self-reliance and community involvement help the artist confront relevant issues in a spirited fine art." Bland has had numerous art exhibits and is well known within the arts community in Richmond. He produced an experimental non-commercial alternative space, The Grove Avenue Gallery (1982-1984), to promote what he called a "bedrock" for independent Richmond art culture. He left for New York City in 1984 to practice art then returned to Richmond in 1986. He then purchased an old dairy barn in the lower Fan District converting it to a studio residence. Bland has established a growing archive of Richmond material, including vintage photographs, architectural drawings of historic Richmond buildings, and other artifacts of the city, that he calls a "a personal resource" of artistic inspiration.


2 Linear Feet (2 linear feet plus architectural drawings)

Language of Materials



Collection is arranged by series and alphabetically therein. The items in Folders 1-8, Map Case #11, were found by Bland at an abandoned building in the 1980s. The building may have been the former site of the R.R. Cosby Electrical Co. which had operated in Richmond, Virginia for almost the entire 20th century. Other items, located in Boxes 1-6 and in Folder 9-10, Map Case #11, have been acquired by Bland at flea markets, garage sales, through dealers and at other locations.The collection is divided into the following series: Series I -- Art, Artists, & Craftsmen (1890s-1990s) ; Series II -- General (1880s-1980s) ; Series III -- Grove Avenue Gallery (1982-1984) ; Series IV -- Ledger from Maxwell & McGowan and McGowan and Pearsall House Furnishers (1901-1902) ; Series V -- Richmond Art Glass (late 19th/early 20th century) ; Series VI -- Historic Richmond (late 19th/early 20th century) ; Series VII -- Architectural Drawings and Oversize materials (1880s-1980s)

A Guide to the Richard Bland collection of Richmond memorabilia
A Collection in Special Collections and Archives, James Branch Cabell Library, Virginia Commonwealth University, Collection number M 32.
Ray Bonis, Lee Anne Hurt, and Heather Foster
2002 By Virginia Commonwealth University. All rights reserved.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the VCU James Branch Cabell Library Repository

Special Collections and Archives 901 Park Avenue
Richmond Virginia 23284 USA US
(804) 828-1108