RAW: TJ Sewer and RVA art culminate

Photo by Brooke Marsh
Artist and stylist B.Ross shows off paintings at the RAW event. Artists with specialities in hair and makeup had the chance to be featured. Photo by Brooke Marsh
Photo by Brooke Marsh
Artist and stylist B.Ross shows off paintings at the RAW event. Artists with specialities in hair and makeup had the chance to be featured. Photo by Brooke Marsh

Adriel Velazquez

Contributing Writer

A RAW Art Showcase in Richmond highlighted works from fashion designer TJ Sewer, along with some local Richmond artists and performers last Thursday.

On Oct. 8, RAW hosted the event, “Merge,” at the Hippodrome in Richmond. The event featured local talent in visual art, fashion, music, performance, film, photography, hair and makeup.

RAW is an independent arts organization created by Heidi Luerra in Los Angeles, California in 2005. It has since grown into a nationwide organization that showcases multiple mediums of art in more than 54 cities across the U.S. The one-night events occur monthly in each city, with the season running from February to October.

Artists focusing on photography, dance and cosmetics were also on display at the Hippodrome. Brianne Schmitt, who uses the pseudonym Bri, is a 16-year-old sculptor living in Richmond. She was showing off some of her latest work during the event.

“I feel RAW is special because their artists are incredibly diverse and unique,” Schmitt said. “Instead of focusing on one particular form of art, they focus on many different kinds.”

Photo by Brooke Marsh
The Hippodrome’s sign advertises the Raw Artist Showcase. The event featured a variety of artists from around the area. Photo by Brooke Marsh

Her work focuses primarily on small sculptures of dragons. She writes in her bio on the event’s website that she enjoys working with polymer clay, and enjoys experimenting with different combinations of color and form.

“RAW has many fantastic artists that focus on paintings and drawings, but they have very few sculptors,” Schmitt said. “I am grateful for the opportunity to share this amazing art form with so many people.”

At the end of the season, RAW hosts an annual “RAWards” show in Hollywood, recognizing the best artists in each category. TJ Sewer, a fashion brand from Williamsburg, Virginia, headlined the event as the featured attraction, displaying their shirts, blouses, skirts and other clothing items. The brand has been featured nationally, including an appearance on Good Morning Arizona and popular fashion blogs like Lauren Conrad’s.

“RAW is very special for the reason that we will be able to show our artistic talents to a large audience,” said Tabitha Sewer, founder and designer for the brand. “We are excited about our line and want others to enjoy our work and be inspired by it as well.”

Most local artists had to apply to featured in “Merge,” but Sewer was selected to be the headliner by organizers at RAW.

Earlier this summer, Sewer launched a social media campaign called “Wonderland,” along with a fall 2015 clothing line called “Urban Gems.” This combination garnered considerable attention on social media nationwide, which prompted RAW to reach out to the brand.

Photo by Brooke Marsh
RAW is an independent arts organization created by Heidi Luerra in Los Angeles, California in 2005. It has since grown into a nationwide organization that showcases multiple mediums of art in more than 54 cities across the U.S. Photo by Brooke Marsh

“RAW found us and asked us to be featured in their upcoming exhibit,” Sewer said. “By being a part of this event, it aids TJ Sewer to be further promoted independently, thus expand further on a national or even international level.”

RAW also has an active online community. Artists chosen to be showcased by RAW get their own online profile on the RAW website. The website also includes tools for RAW artists to interact with each other, promote upcoming projects and track their progress.

This was the last RAW showcase happening this season, so the next opportunity to see the organization feature local art and culture will be February 2016.

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