First Friday in Richmond, Virginia is an event in the Art District. It takes place every first Friday of the month throughout the year come rain or shine. As many as sixteen local galleries are open within a few blocks of each other in the city’s downtown area. On a warm evening it is a wonderful place to stroll and take in the local scene as an eclectic variety of shops, restaurants and street hawkers advertise their presence. Musical ensembles, theater and the occasional street-preacher can be found competing for attention. On one occasion my sons and I came across a replica pirate ship pulled up across a side street, from which fire-eaters were performing their pyrotechnics.
And then there is the art. From the gallery of the public library through a variety of permanent galleries to the occasional adapted store front, the traditional, imaginative and sometimes rather weird, invites the pedestrian gaze. My twelve-year-old and I strolled into one gallery and he immediately turned around saying: I don’t want to be here, this is bad stuff. But in another we found a wonderful variety of thought provoking images from everyday life arranged to provoke thoughts not normally associated with them.
The creative is everywhere around us because we live in a world shaped by the hands of a Creator God who invites us to create with Him. So from the average architecture of our Broad St. shop fronts, to the elaborate Brownstones across on Franklin we find art in our buildings. In the past, and still occasionally seen, there were more than 200 fish sculptures around town. Now there is the big metal policeman’s head on the wall of a building at West Grace and North Jefferson.
Richmond has its famous monuments; its murals, both historical tableau and modern interpretive; and, of course, The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. And then it has Edit, a neat little gallery at Number 8 East Broad St. Run by some friends of mine, this gallery presents itself as Art for Good, and also Art for Mission. It’s a place for Christians to exhibit the fruit of talents God has gifted them with. Photography, Oil on canvas, watercolor, sculpture and music have all been featured on first Fridays and during week day office hours.
On the most recent first Friday we visited to meet five young artists who were all exhibiting and creating at the same time. An exhibition entitled Audacity, had launched under the direction of Benjamin Winans, the resident artist. Five genres were on offer: metalwork, abstract in oil, local views in watercolor, 3D design, and some beautiful illustration. All were presented by Christians who offer their talents to the glory of God, as they express the creative within them. Meanwhile Ben was quietly working away in the background applying paint to one of my own favorite ‘canvasses’: newsprint.
The Creator challenges us with the words: Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12:2 NIV). The pattern of this world will never produce what the mind renewed in submission to a loving and redeeming creator can produce!
Edit would like to export their idea to places overseas where the good news of Jesus Christ, the Creator God’s message to us all, is not known. In the meantime you can find out more at: http://reachthenations.org/edit/