sioned, but much is not.
“These people have nothing,” says
Trask of the Richmonders who live near
one recent, unsolicited work he painted
for a particularly blighted neighborhood. “I wanted to bring in some color.”
THAT SPIRIT OF “anything goes”
also carries through to many of the
galleries in the city, which range from
edgy, experimental art studios run by
recent college grads to highly polished,
sophisticated showrooms. I set out with
my daughter to explore First Friday,
which occurs the first Friday of every
month when galleries coordinate their
openings with special events and other
attractions around town.
The heart of First Fridays is Broad
Street, a main drag not far from VCU.
Mingling with tattooed and pierced millennials, as well as carefully coiffed Southern sons and daughters, we stop at craft
booths and a miniature farmers market
in one alleyway, then consider whether
to play dress up in feather boas or fake
beards and have our photo taken.
There are airy abstracts in Gallery
EDIT (located inside the Hillside/
World Horizons headquarters on Broad
Street), where the artists are missionaries committed to spreading Christianity
through their art. Next door, at Art6, we
make our way through what appear to
be bedrooms converted into art spaces,
each with a different artist’s work, and
then stand on a balcony to watch a belly
dance performance below.
As the evening progresses, we see
highly detailed landscapes, fanciful portraits, carefully rendered photography
and bold, color-saturated abstracts. We
hear a trio of bluegrass musicians, listen
to a DJ spin on a street corner and watch
fire dancers twirl their batons.
My favorite stop is Atlas, an art center
run by Art 180 on Marshall Street, just off
Broad Street. More art camp than gallery,
Art 180 is a perfect example of how deeply
art is integrated into this city. Operating
on the concept that art can help kids and
communities turn around “ 180” degrees,
its weeks-long instructional programs are
designed to give children living in chal-
lenging circumstances a way to express
themselves. Their creative works are dis-
played at Atlas on First Fridays.
The night we walk into this lively
space, the kids have answered the ques-
tion “What do you stand for?” with life-
size self-portraits. We pick up colored
chalk to write or draw our own answers
on a community chalkboard. Then we
immerse ourselves in some of the chil-
dren’s comments about art that are
posted on the walls:
“Art lets me concentrate and think
about stuff from the past.”
“In this piece of art, I restore peace to
AT THE VIRGINIA Museum of
Fine Arts, the exhibits are more refined.
A world-class art center with 33,000
works from almost every major world
culture, it underwent a $150 million
expansion that was completed in 2010,
and now boasts an airy atrium, multi-
ple galleries and enough art to keep me
coming back again and again.
On my last visit, I had a few min-
utes to kill before one of the free guided
tours, so I took a seat in the café to wait.
It overlooks a lily pond punctuated by
artist Dale Chihuly’s slender glass reeds,
a remembrance of the spectacular 2012
exhibit when he displayed a 3,000-pound
chandelier, among other works. Just
beyond the pond, sculptures and shade
trees dot a vast lawn, fountains burble,
and people from the surrounding neigh-
borhood walk their dogs across the grass.
At 11 a.m., some 20 teenagers gather
for the tour, though usually groups are
more mixed. The docent begins with a
bit of history—the museum was opened
An exhibit at the Virginia Museum
of Fine Arts shows visitors how
artist Ryan McGinniss created a
vibrant collage of 200 icons.
Visitors enjoy the view from
the café in the museum, a
world-class art center with
33,000 works from almost
every major world culture.