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From Smartphones to Textiles, First Fridays Richmond Offers a Wide Range of Artistic Expression

Front edifice of a modern steel building
The Institute of Contemporary Art at VCU is one of a number of venues hosting events on March 6. (Photo by Jakob Cordes/VPM)

The monthly First Friday Art Walk is coming up this week, on March 6. The long-running Richmond tradition is promoted by the Downtown Neighborhood Association with participation from a wide array of galleries and shops, spanning parts of Monroe Ward and Jackson Ward known collectively as the Arts District. Many galleries host openings or special events on First Fridays, which can offer visitors a look at the full spectrum of artistic activity in Richmond, from the work of world-famous studio artists to innovative student pieces and everything in between.

This list highlights some new exhibitions and one-night events within a short walking distance, but it’s far from a complete review of First Friday events, which will be happening all over the city. For a comprehensive map of gallery and shop openings, check out the official First Fridays page.

Exhibitions

Proximal, Distal, Adrift - 1708 Gallery (6-8 p.m.)

“Proximal, Distal, Adrift” is the current exhibition at 1708 Gallery, featuring the work of Liliana Farber, who grapples with digital alienation and the implications of big data through a series of interactive and iterative installations.

One big draw of the exhibition is the innovative “Blue Vessel,” an art piece that visitors can access through a smartphone app. The installation invites users to browse archives undergoing real-time digital decay and write their own messages from pre-selected words randomly pulled from the novel “Robinson Crusoe.”

Languages of Clay, Fiber and Poetry - Anne’s Visual Art Studio Gallery (7:30-9 p.m.)

“Languages of Clay, Fiber, and Poetry” will be opening on March 6, featuring the art of Carolyn Gabb in a variety of mediums. Additionally, visitors can check out the other eclectic works on display, including the gothic dreamscapes of Chris Semtner and Alan Hollins’ color-filled abstract canvases.

The opening will feature live music by the band Aurika, whose improvisations and covers lend a bohemian air to the gallery. Featured artists often stop by during First Friday events, and the gallery will offer complimentary light refreshments and a cash bar.

What I like about Clay - Art 180 (6-9 p.m.)

For the show “What I like About Clay,” which will open March 6, Art 180 partnered with Richmond-area public schools through their Atlas Teens program to offer an artistic outlet to Richmond youth. The exhibit coincides with ceramic month, in conjunction with the National Council of Education for Ceramic Arts.

Although Art 180 is just a block off Broad Street, at the intersection of Brook Rd and West Marshall, it’s easily missed by casual visitors. Walk northeast on Jefferson or Adam towards Marshall to find it.  Art 180 will offer light refreshments.

Memento/Morphology - Quirk Gallery (Open until 9 p.m.)

The Quirk Gallery is currently featuring two shows by Richmond-based artists. “Memento” is centered on ceramic pieces by Allan Rosenbaum, whose work is featured in the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian National Museum of American Art. “Morphology” presents inky black and bright acrylic canvases, melded together by painter Suzanna Fields. 

Quirk has an attached shop which will also be open until 9 P.M. The gallery is housed on the ground floor of the Quirk Hotel, which opened in 2015 and features a restaurant and rooftop bar for anyone wanting to take a break between exhibits.

Direct to Video - Institute for Contemporary Art (6-9 p.m.)

The Institute for Contemporary Art - established by VCU in 2018 - will be hosting a film showcase promoting short-format work by artists who have never made a film before. The exhibition, which was curated by VCU alumnus Dylan Languell, features nine titles from a diverse group of artists, including voices from outside of academia and the professional art world. First Friday is also a good opportunity to see “Disease Thrower,” which is currently installed at the ICA, and which was earlier featured on VPM.

Shopping

ArtWalk - Elegba Folklore Society (5-9 p.m.)

The Elegba folklore society will be hosting “Africa’s Art in Paint and Wood,” showcasing statues, masks, paintings, and textiles. Stop by to browse the society’s marketplace, offering imports, original artwork, jewelry, and personal care products. Light refreshments will be offered, and the market will feature live music by the group African Diaspora.

Kevin Sabo - Rosewood Clothing Co. (6-9 p.m.)

Rosewood Clothing Co. will be hosting new artwork by Kevin Sabo, whose most recognizable piece is the mural at 5th and Grace in the Arts District. Many of Sabo’s previous works are bright, eccentric portraits in a distinctive style. Alongside Sabo’s new pieces  will be the vintage clothing, jewelry, and personal products Rosewood typically carries.

DJ Night - Circle Thrift & Art Space (Open until 9 p.m.)

Circle Thrift is an eclectic shop with a large selection of second-hand clothes and funky furniture, as well as a selection of prints by local artists. The shop will have a local DJ providing music throughout the night, livening up the store, which has become a Broad Street staple since opening in 2015.

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