First Fridays Art Walk looks eastward

For the second part of a three month project called First Fridays East, the monthly First Fridays Art Walk is extending to City Center, bringing live music to Richmond CenterStage and UR Downtown.

For the second part of a three month project called First Fridays East, the monthly First Fridays Art Walk is extending to City Center tomorrow night, bringing exhibitions, music, and discussions to venues like the Library of Virginia and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Though there’s a full and varied list (pdf) of things to do, great live music will be featured at Rhythm Hall at CenterStage (located on the corner of E. Grace and 7th) and UR Downtown (located on the corner of E. Broad and 7th).

From 5-8pm at CenterStage, hear jazz by the Richmond Youth Jazz Guild Small Ensemble, the Richmond Jazz Composers Alliance Quintet, and the Richmond Youth Jazz Guild Large Ensemble. The quintet will feature Ashby Anderson (piano), Art Esposito (bass), Mark Ingraham (trumpet), Ballard Midyette (trombone), Kelli Strawbridge (drums), and Marcus Tenney (tenor saxophone and trumpet). In true First Fridays fashion, the event is free. Light hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar will be on hand. CenterStage is also holding a food drive for the Central Virginia Food Bank, so bring any non-perishable food items you’d like to donate.

Across the street, the University of Richmond Downtown will present the University’s Bossa Nova and Samba Ensemble (featuring Kevin Harding on guitar) as well as The Octaves, UR’s all-male a capella group. That, too, is from 5-8pm and free.

Director of Curated Culture Christina Newton said in an email, “We’re extremely excited to partner with these renowned institutions and hope to introduce our First Fridays Art Walk program to their base audiences, while introducing our regular followers to them.” Furthermore, it’s a celebration of the development of that downtown area and an effort to bridge the gap between the west and the east, she said.

Newton continued:

Downtown is a growing cultural destination and since all of the participating venues — whether located in the “eastern” or “western” areas of downtown — are in walking distance, we are eager to reintroduce residents and visitors to what Downtown has to offer today.

I was thrilled by the March 5th turnout for First Fridays. People were everywhere, walking from site to site, shopping, filling the restaurants, and of course, enjoying warmer temps! At “First Fridays East,” people easily walked from site to site and the free parking at the Library of Virginia and at St. Paul’s was a great amenity to helping people get downtown conveniently. It was thrilling to see such a diverse audience out on the town. People standing in line at The National, for Alice in Chains. Theatre goers were heading to The Opera for Don Giovanni, as well as to Richmond Shakespeare’s special free performance of Othello. Restaurants were overflowing, the Library of Virginia’s Museum Shop was hopping, and St. Paul’s was eagerly dolling out the homemade desserts and coffee. It was a one of those nights that I’ve always envisioned my city to be like. And if March was any indication, I foresee even busier and more creative months ahead!

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Dean Christesen

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