The First Friday of spring

Taylor Thornberg
Spectrum Editor

Map by Anya Shcherbakova

As every Richmonder knows, spring means bigger and busier First Friday art walks, and this month’s walk on Friday, March 6 is no exception.

For those who don’t know, First Friday is the monthly art walk hosted by the Downtown Neighborhood Association where galleries on Broad and Main Streets stay open for the evening (usually from 5-9 p.m.) to show new works and exhibits.

While February’s First Friday was absolutely frigid, the hope is that March will be a bit milder.

You can navigate First Friday any way you like, but the galleries on Broad Street are scattered conveniently so that you can make one big loop from Belvidere to 3rd Street. If you start on the right side of the street facing east, you’ll first run into 1708 Gallery at 319 W. Broad St.

1708 Gallery, a non-profit arts organization that has served Richmond’s artists since 1978, will be opening a brand new exhibit called “Two of Everything” or “TOE,” by Ben Stout. The exhibit will feature sculpture by the artist and will run until April 18, so those who miss March can see the exhibit in April’s First Friday.

The next gallery on the block is Quirk, at 311 W. Broad St., which doubles as a gallery and a kitschy shop with knick-knacks and gifts. Quirk will be opening two new exhibits March 5, “Temper Tantrum” by Harris Johnson and “Gamut” by Sally King Benedict. Both exhibits will be on display until April 25.

Continuing down the block, you can stop in at Anchor Studios at 1 E. Broad St., a cross-discipline artist cooperative. They hold open studios on First Fridays for people to stop in and check out what they’re working on. The artists in residence are all VCUarts graduates, and create using a variety of mediums from painting and photography to tattooing and fashion design.

The next gallery on the right side of Broad is mOb + storefront at 205 E. Broad St., a studio and storefront run by VCUarts professors and students who tackle a variety of community projects based on graphic design, fashion design and interior design. You can stop in and check out their works in progress and some of their old projects as well.

If you’re feeling adventurous you can take a right turn down 2nd Street until you hit Franklin Street, and on the corner at 101 E. Franklin St. is the Richmond Public Library’s Main Branch. While the library may not seem like a usual First Friday stop, the library will be exhibiting student work from Richmond Public Schools from 6:30-9 p.m.

Going back to Broad and crossing to the left side of the street, the first gallery you’ll see heading west will be Gallery Edit at 8 E. Broad St., a Christian faith-based gallery exhibiting works and collections by Christian artists.

Walk down a few blocks and you’ll run into Anne’s Visual Art Studio Gallery at 208 W. Broad St. This Friday, the gallery will show featured artist Nikolai Walko’s “Art of Conflict,” and Walko will give an “Artist Talk” at 6:30 p.m. The exhibit features several pieces of body armor and helmets made of copper and other metals. The “Artist Talk” will be followed by a reception with music by Elana Lisa. ReelAbilities RVA, the VCUarts Cinema Student Marketing Team, will also be present to project their completed films to advertise for the ReelAbilities 2015 film festival coming up in April.

If you turn around and go back to Jefferson Street, then make a left and go down to Marshall Street, you’ll see the renovated firehouse building of Gallery 5. Gallery 5 frequently hosts live music, and First Friday features a new exhibit in addition to a musical performance by Those Manic Seas, The Blue and the Grey, Samantha Pearl and Karamazov. The exhibit is a solo production by Daniel Calder, a VCUarts graduate. The pieces are all on blackboards, with the images being permanent, but chalk and an eraser will be provided so that visitors can add or erase parts of it. Calder said in his artist statement that the exhibit was meant to allow viewers to “rewrite history.”

“My images are intended to use some humor and discord to encourage the viewer to reconsider … everything,” Calder stated.

If you head back up Jefferson Street and make a right onto Broad Street and keep heading west, the next gallery to see is Candela Books + Gallery at 214 W. Broad St. Their new photography exhibit, called “Peripheral Vision,” was curated by Amy Ritchie Johnson. The exhibit has its grand opening Friday, March 6 and will run until April 18.

Three doors down from Candela Gallery at 220 W. Broad St. is Ghostprint Gallery, which is continuing its exhibit that opened Feb. 5. The exhibit, called “JJ Grandville’s Les Animaux,” features screen prints of the late French illustrator’s drawings by Triple Stamp Press, a water-based screen-printing shop from Old Town Manchester in Richmond.

Finally, at 228 W. Broad St., ADA Gallery will be continuing their current exhibits, “SymmetryyrtemmyS” by Sarah Bednarek and Kirsten Kindler and George Terry’s “You Can’t Go Home” multimedia exhibit.

There are endless ways to go about the First Friday art walk, but the Broad Street loop allows you to hit all the galleries with new exhibits and open studios. As spring approaches, more exhibits and outdoor markets will add to the First Friday experience.

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