Thank God it’s First Friday

Kyle Taylor
Contributing Writer

Honestly, who doesn’t look forward to Friday night? After a long work week, a stressful school load or a combination of both, Friday night offers a chance to kick back and celebrate surviving the week.

The First Fridays Art Walk in Richmond is an event that every VCU student, Richmond local or visitor should add to their bucket list. Skydiving takes planning and money, but RVA First Fridays are free and absolutely worth it. Founded in June 2012 by the Downtown Neighborhood Association, First Friday is an art walk that takes place year-round on the first Friday of every month.

The walk begins around 5 p.m. and lasts roughly until 9 p.m., though each participating gallery, shop or restaurant may have different hours. Open display windows and colorful signs welcome people to step inside to celebrate art and the community.

Keep in mind, there is no order to follow. The galleries, shops and places to eat, mapped out online at rvafirstfridays.com, are scattered around the downtown area, some located in Jackson Ward or closer to campus. Here’s a route to take if you want to make a loop down Broad Street and hit a cluster of the participating galleries.

On the corner of Madison and Broad streets, you’ll find ADA Gallery. Opening for First Friday on Feb. 6, from 7-9 p.m. are two exhibits: Kristen Kindler and Sarah Bednarek’s “SymmetryyrtemmyS” as well as George Terry’s show “You Can’t Go Home.” Terry presents a site-specific video installation of interviews with artists who moved to New York from elsewhere to pursue their careers.

For more information or images to get your interest spiked, check out ADA Gallery’s website at www.adagallery.com.

Next stop, Ghost Print Gallery. Dedicated to an inclusive redefinition of “fine art,” the individuals whose works are displayed in Ghost Print Gallery employ skills in their pieces that range from non-traditional media to oil painting. As found on their website at ghostprintgallery.com, they “seek to bring seemingly disparate elements together in an enlightened perspective on art itself.”

Candela Books and Gallery, at 214 W. Broad St. is continuing to show the exhibit from the January First Friday, “Five Stories,” a collection of works by Cristina De Middel that spans her last five years of work.

Between Candela and the Visual Arts studio there’s an open space for private parking that has colored flags stringing above your head between the gap. You may have seen this place before. If not, you can take a few steps in and enjoy beautiful murals on the side of this cubby in the wall of shops.

Now until March 6, the Visual Art Studio is showing the annual exhibition called [WORK] : Faculty + Staff + Board. This show allows the public a chance to see the diverse, professional work created by the dedicated leaders of the Visual Art Center.

When you come to Jefferson Street there’s a side trail that one can take in order to get a little more flavor out of the adventure of the art walk. If you take a left on Jefferson and walk to Marshall there’s Gallery 5. Located inside a renovated fire station, Gallery 5 offers an upstairs gallery that will feature the “Grlz Night” exhibition for February’s First Friday. The group exhibition will feature works by members of the Richmond-based Grlz Night Gang art collective that includes paintings, prints, photography and performance art. “Grlz Night” will run from Feb. 5 until Feb. 23. There will be an opening reception at 6 p.m. Feb. 6 that will also function as a zine release party for the Grlz Night Gang second quarterly zine.

You can get back onto Broad Street and finish your loop by taking a right on Brooks Road. Once on Broad Street, cross to the other side and walk back towards Madison where Quirk is located at 311 W. Broad St. Andras Bality opens a new show in the shop and Christopher Mahonski opens in the Vault. To check out these artists, go to quirkgallery.com.

The next stop is 1708 Gallery a few shops over. Five artists are displaying their works that combine themes of alchemy, magic, science fiction and new-age spiritualism. The featured artists are Derek Coté, Adam Farcus, Christopher Mahonski, Liz Rodda and Stephanie Roland. The gallery’s website describes the exhibit as “objects and actions (that) act as talismans against contemporary anxieties creating a code that transmits a message both uncanny and foreboding.”

  As Feb. 6 approaches and you begin to make plans for your weekend, don’t let the cold keep you away. If you start to re-think going out because of the chill, stop by Lift Coffee Shop at 218 W. Broad St. and grab a hot cup of coffee.

Photos by Julie Tripp

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