Posted by: Necci – Apr 13, 2012
This past Friday my twitter feed was abreast with updates and information about the G40 Art Summit and that evening’s openings at the galleries on Broad Street. It’s no news to anyone in Richmond that First Fridays has seen its ups and downs, but given the success of the G40 project and all of the musical events planned in conjunction with the event, one could say First Fridays are on the upswing, yet again. However, despite tremendous buzz regarding the G40 Art Summit and First Fridays at the Galleries on Broad Street, I took it upon myself to see what was going on at the lesser-known Galleries on Main. The Galleries on Main, while not part of the First Fridays organization, open their doors for the evening on first Friday of every month. Why, I wondered, does no one write or talk about these openings?
The events on Main seemingly cater to a more “reserved” crowd, if you will. The crowd was primarily a mixture of empty nesters and families. The price point of works at these galleries is quite a bit higher, with some exceptions, than that which you’ll find on Broad Street. The Galleries on Main organization consists of 14 galleries. In order to avoid visual overstimulation and allow myself a bit of quality time in each gallery, (how much time DOES one spend at a typical gallery opening? I suppose it depends whether your aim is geared more towards socializing, buying art, simply enjoying the art, of for the privileged among us, some combination of all of the above…) I decided to only venture west of Lombardy for the evening.
My first stop was Red Door Gallery, which featured paintings by Northern California artist Brooks Anderson. These paintings featured vast landscapes in highly saturated colors. There were vineyards, and highways that evoked the Kerouacian. The gallery owner engaged me in friendly conversation, leaving me wholly inspired to complete my mission.
Brooks Anderson, “Bay of Smokes”
My next few stops were Studio Two Three, Glave Kocen, Brazier Gallery, The Visual Arts Center, and Page Bond. Glave Kocen did not have an official opening that evening, but is featuring paintings by one of their regular artists, Greg Osterhaus, this month. Think barns, country vistas, and cow paintings in bright psychedelic colors, painted on with thick brushstrokes. The art Osterhaus makes is incredibly accessible, and he is known for his signature cows, such as this beauty:
The most memorable opening of the evening was at Page Bond, which featured works by Virginia photographer Robert Llewellyn and Leslie VS Millar. Llewellyn’s photographs are primarily vibrant, high-resolution images of various flora. He contributed photographs recently to a fabulous book titled On Trees, which I thoroughly enjoy nerding out on even though I am certainly no wildlife buff. These images may seem cut and dried to some, but Llewllyn’s concept of “seeing” trees as opposed to merely “looking” adds depth to these photographs. Anyone who has read the tales of Carlos Castaneda or Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim on Tinker Creek may be familiar with this heady phenomenon.
Robert Llewellyn "Allium Flower (Allium purple sensation)," 2011, Archival Pigmented Print on Watercolor Paper
I must admit that despite my reason telling me I had every right not to, I felt a bit out of place at the openings. In a few of the galleries, I could have imagined the owner thinking “Oh young girl. You’re obviously too young to be an art collector; therefore we don’t really give two shits about you.” Delusions of grandeur aside, they were probably just busy and stressed about the execution of their event. My presence may have barely registered in their minds.
The photography by Llewlynn, the paintings by Anderson, and the free wine all helped to make it a pretty decent evening on the town. I enjoyed going alone, as I was easily able to engage in conversation with many of the gallery workers (in the future i'd probably bring a friend). My advice to you: The Galleries on Main are not to be overlooked. Though this event may be less “trendy” than the official First Fridays, I say why not branch out a little? Not only is parking much easier to find in the Fan, but it never hurts to broaden one’s perspective. If anything, come check it out for some visual stimulation. And of course, the free booze.
By Kristina Headrick