Gallery5 has a birthday coming up this weekend and if you’ve ever been to one of their parties, you know they bring the weird, wacky and wonderful. The old firehouse-turned-art space is turning 12 and will celebrate the only way they know how – with fire spinning, a group art show, burlesque, live music and dance tunes in the streets this Friday, April 7.
The gallery, located in Jackson Ward, has operated as a 501(c)3 non-profit since its inception in April 2005 to provide a space for diverse local and touring exhibitions, music, comedy, dance and art of all forms. Gallery5 is also no stranger to utilizing its space for various fundraisers.
“It lends itself to housing so many diverse forms of artwork and collaboration, which is one of the big missions of the gallery,” said Parker Galore, Operations Manager at Gallery5 as well as co-founder and former Editor-In-Chief of RVA Magazine.
As the story goes, while the first RVAMag print issue was being assembled, a woman named Amanda Robinson, whose parents owned the firehouse, reached out to him.
Robinson had been in Georgia at Savannah College of Art and Design, but was returning to Richmond in order to transform the derelict firehouse into a space for art.
Around that time, Galore also decided to have Robinson’s story be one of featured articles in the mag as well as have Gallery5 host the launch party of the very first issue in its grand opening.
Ever since, the two Richmond creative entities have often found themselves intertwined.
After the success of their combined efforts, Robinson asked Galore and other local artists and creatives to continue helping out. Over the years countless volunteers and employees have contributed to Gallery5 continued success.
The space itself has always sought to add a unique and diverse voice to Richmond and it is with that diversity in mind that this week’s birthday celebration will include various types of art and entertainment.
Live music on their inside stage includes the haunting tones of Lobo Marino, long-time Gallery 5 board member and legendary RVA musician Prabir Mehta, singer/songwriter Georgie Isaacs and local indie-pop heavy hitters The Trillions.
Beyond live music there will be burlesque featuring Arroh Meuse, Caza Blanca, Jo’Rie Tigerlily, Lottie Ellington, Lula Houp-Garou, and Melody Magpie all guided by the sensual hand of Deanna Danger.
Danger has been a longtime collaborator with Gallery5 and, as of last March, her burlesque studio, Boom Boom Basics, moved into the building. Gallery5 has hosted Danger’s burlesque shows as well as touring burlesque artists for years.
“Gallery5 is a big piece of the burlesque history in Richmond,” Danger said.
“She got in touch with me through MySpace back when MySpace was still a thing,” Galore said of Danger’s earliest involvement, only reinforcing the long and impactful timeline from both orgs.
Meanwhile, outside the venue, The Party Liberation Front will showcase a pyro circus street show with fire-based performance art. PLF is also a 501c3 non-profit that works to fundraise for the art community and is a frequent collaborator with Gallery5.
PLF will also have a presence inside the gallery with a multi-media presentation called “Visuals 2” on the venue’s second floor. The show was funded by grants from PLF and includes work by Annie Peace and Reginald Conyers called “Reflections.”
Another PLF grant funded piece on dispaly, put together by the All Saints Theatre Company, involves “a haunting singing ceremony with tributes to the 12 foot tall Grandma Moon Puppet with celestial moon/sun masks, choreographed performances and glow in the dark hand painted humans by the lovely Ali Warters.”
There will also be plenty of art on sale from groups like Fallon Corrine Photography, The Art of Nicole Pisaniello, The Clockworks Collective and more.
This week’s upcoming festivities begin at 6pm and will run through until midnight. The event is free, though donations are encouraged. Find out more about the event here.