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Artspace in Richmond, Virginia facts for kids

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2016-07-25 1731 artspace logo.png
Formation 1988; 33 years ago (1988)
  • Richmond, Virginia

Artspace in Richmond, Virginia began in 1988 and is a non-profit, artist-run 501-C3 gallery and performance space currently located south of the James River in the Manchester area of the city at Zero East 4th Street in the art complex Plant Zero. The gallery began as Artspace 1306 in a donated, rent-free space at 1306 Cary Street in Richmond's historic Shockoe Slip. Upon the loss of its free space, the gallery moved to North 18th Street in Shockoe Bottom, retaining its original name of Artspace 1306. The gallery's next move as Artspace 1306 was to a much larger building at 6 East Broad Street in Jackson Ward, and the name of the gallery was changed at the request of the Richmond post office to Artspace, removing its former street number to prevent confusion at the new location. Artspace was the first of the Shockoe Bottom art galleries incorporated as non-profit organizations to locate on Broad Street, and it became an anchor gallery for Richmond's First Friday Art Walk and a popular and long-lasting venue for the Arts and Cultural District formed for Broad Street and Downtown Richmond.

Early history

Drawing membership from the Richmond Artists Association, the Richmond Printmaking Workshop, the local branch of the Women's Caucus for Art, and artists allied either as exhibiting artists, faculty, or students with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the School of the Arts at Virginia Commonwealth University, the first organizational meeting of Artspace was held at the home of artist Henrietta Near and her husband, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts curator Pinkney L. Near, in Richmond's Fan District. The gallery opened soon after in 1988 as Artspace 1306 in Richmond's Shockoe Slip. The gallery name reflected its location at 1306 East Cary Street in "The Slip." The name Artspace 1306 was retained when the gallery relocated in Shockoe Bottom on North 18th Street and incorporated as a 501C-3 organization. Limited by the small size of their rental space, flooding of galleries in the "Bottom" before construction of the Richmond flood wall, and absence of parking space for overflow crowds, Artspace 1306 moved to 6 East Broad Street in Jackson Ward. At the request of the U.S. Postal Service Artspace dropped the former street number from its name.

Artspace 1306 T shirt
vintage T shirt

Around 2000 there began a membership split at Artspace over the location and uncertain future of the gallery, and the majority of Artspace members at Artspace on Broad voted to move to Plant Zero in the Manchester, VA area of Richmond south of the James River. Six dissenting founding members and supporters of Artspace remained at the Broad Street location of the gallery and incorporated a new non-profit gallery which they named art6. The original six members held an organizational meeting at Café Gutenberg in Shockoe Bottom, inviting new members for the Broad Street location. The lower-case "a" eventually evolved into the name as Art6 or Art 6.

Early exhibitions at Artspace 1306 in Shockoe Slip and Shockoe Bottom

In Shockoe Slip, at Artspace 1306, there were monthly changing exhibitions, primarily by gallery members or other artists curated by an exhibition committee, a tradition that continues today. Some early member exhibitors were Nancy Rice, John Bailey, Doug Hayes, Henrietta Near, Judy Little, Paul Muick, Marian Hollowell, Frances Wessells, Etta Edwards, Roomy Pak, Kay Franz, Ed Franz, Sharon Hill, Helena Davis, Anna Golden, Bea Klein, and Jane Ware. In 1989 at Artspace 1306 in the Slip, Roomy Pak and founding member Mitzi Humphrey presented the exhibition Enchanted Garden. In the January 1990 newsletter of the Richmond Artists Association (RAA), Henrietta Near announced the move of Artspace to 2 1/2 North 18th Street in Shockoe Bottom.

In Shockoe Bottom Artspace held an exhibition featuring children's art selected by Artspace members entitled Small Stuff.

Small Stuff announcement card
Artspace invitation card

In Shockoe Bottom, Droit de Regard 3-D+ in 1992 at Artspace 1306 at 2 1/2 N. 18th Street featured five Richmond artists' individual approaches to the subject of sexuality. Steroscopic photographs by E.D. Franz and Doug Hayes and multi-media works by W. Jean Gilbert, Tavel, and Pam Taylor were exhibited. A three-person exhibition of paintings, prints, and sculpture, Humphrey/Coppola/Humphrey, was also shown in 1992. Artspace on 18th Street in Shockoe Bottom presented Collaborations, an exhibition of 26 works of art achieved collaboratively. Some of the collaborative teams were: Mary Holland and Steven Glass, Henrietta Near and Etta Edwards, Susan Papa and Jane Ware, Gloria Blades and Mitzi Humphrey, Patricia Martin-Nelson and Hall Fitzgerald, Larry Mullins and Jim Nottingham, and the trio Michael Clautice, Mitzi Humphrey, and Caryl Burtner.

Xerox enlargement installation Artspace
vintage photo installation Artspace 1306

Exhibitions at Artspace in Jackson Ward at 6 East Broad St.

Art ex Libris: The National Book Art Show at Artspace on Broad in 1994 filled the rooms of the gallery with experimental book art by invited book artists from the United States, Canada, and Europe. A two-day book art forum was held in conjunction with the exhibition, featuring speakers Isota Epes on How Virginia Woolf Brought Me Up, Dr. Clifford Edwards on Books as Icons in the Paintings of Van Gogh, Jeanne Boomhower, Jennifer Yane, and Richard Dawson on Comic Book Art and Cartooning, Anne Iott on The Artist and the Book, Betsy Pittman on Book Art at VCU, and John Field on The Artist/Bookbinder. Works by more than 100 artists were exhibited, including art by Roomy Pak, Joni Mabe, Tricia Pearsall, Caryl Burtner, Isota Epes, Helmut Eppich, Louise Odes Neaderland, JoAnna Poehlmann, Jim Lee, David Freed, Cliff Edwards, Alyssa Salomon, Davi Det Hompson (aka David E. Thompson), Amie Oliver, Claudia Jemmott, Tom Gay, Henrietta Near, Ken Winebrenner, Jennifer Yane, Maria Epes, and Edna Lazaron. A video documentary of "Art ex Libris" was produced with a technical assistance grant from the Virginia Commission for the Arts.

Other exhibiting Artspace members during this period included Baylor Nichols, Judy Melchor Little, Paul Muick, Chris Semtner, Elizabeth Flynn Chapman, Kay Franz, Jackie Wall, Kathleen Westkaemper, Santa Sergio DeHaven, Paul Helfrich, Ed Franz, Elizabeth Goldman, Sharon Hill, Virginia Tyack, Catherine D. Johnson, Petie Bogen-Garrett, Willie Valentine, Richard Bledsoe, Christina Newton, Judy Anderson, Andrew Campbell, Debbie DaPrano, Beth Beaven, Shirl Tandlich, Wolfgang Jasper, and Doug Hayes. The Richmond Esoteric Art league presented five artists (Jamie Pocklington, Jack Lawrence, Thomas Van Auken, Ed Pashke, and Jason Andrews) putting "a spin on realism" at Artspace.

Benches and Portraits was an exhibition by sculptors John Bailey and Frances Wessells at Artspace in 1993. In 1994, Elizabeth Goldman presented Split Shifts, and Lizzie Zucker Saltz installed Amalgamated Terrata. In 1997 Catherine D. Johnson and Gene Laughter showed a series Bromoil Photographs. In 1996 David Freed curated 30 Years of VCU Printmaking at Artspace, featuring art by his former VCU students. In 1997 Vittorio Colaizzi reviewed Four Show at Artspace for Articulate Contemporary Art Reviews, focusing on the sculpture of Grady Smith. In 1998, Artspace presented the solo exhibition: THORNTON DIAL: The Tiger Looking In. Also in 1998, Artspace celebrated its 10th anniversary of existence, with A Decade of Richmond Art and Non-Toxic 2000 with David Freed as juror of the non-toxic printmaking show. Artspace featured The Architectural Photography of Norman McGrath and Associates in September and October 1999. The internationally recognized photographer and author Norman McGrath presented an exhibition of more than 70 images in both color and black and white. In 2000, the large woodcut anatomical studies of Sheila Pitt filled the main gallery of Artspace. In 2000 additional members exhibiting included Denise Crosson of Charlottesville, Theodore Holmes, Keith Ramsey, and Brian Maltby. Virginia Commonwealth University art professor Chuck Scalin curated the first ThinkSmall miniature invitational exhibition at Artspace in the Broad Street location in 2001. In 2002, R. Sawan White presented an installation piece entitled "Close". Also that year Deirdra McAfee and Mark Shepheard collaborated on the exhibition Black Boxes in the Skylight Gallery of Artspace, accompanied by a reading by McAfee In Commemoration of 9/11.

2016-06-15 1442 Arnulfo Mendoza
Arnulfo Mendoza

In 2003, exhibiting at Artspace as part of the gallery's Celebracion de las Artes Latinas was the show Latin American Voices, featuring work by Jorge Benitez, Gloria Chapa, Federico Chiriboga, Rosana Lopez, Jose Lorenzo, Margarita Montealegre, Claudia Olivos, Diego Sanchez, Javier Tapia, and work from Bogota, Columbia by students of Gloria Chapa, as well as tapestries by Oaxacan artist Arnulfo Mendoza, and local Richmond Latino artists. Also in 2003, Collected Evidence, curated by N. Elizabeth Schlatter, explored art resulting from the obsessive collecting of six artists, including a wall covered by Richard Toscan with palettes left behind by students at VCU and Caryl Burtner's "Trash from the Dictionary" (part of her humorous Definition Series).

Performance art and events

Dika Newlin & Apocowlypso performed at Artspace 1306 in 1988.

In April 9–11, 1999 choreographer John Bailey and his wife, dancer Frances Wessells, gathered 30 local dancers at Artspace for Parade 99, "a pageant of spectacularly costumed dancers and performers paraded--literally through the space." Starrene Foster, a veteran Artspace performer and gallery member presented Starr Foster Dance Project, and the klesmerlike band One Ring Zero performed at Artspace in 2000.

The Latin Ballet of Virginia featured the area's pre-eminent Hispanic American Dance Company directed by Ana Ines Barragan King on two evenings. In 2003 Celebración de las Artes Latinas presented a gallery talk by Mary Jane Gagnier de Mendoza discussing her husband Anulfo Mendoza's Zapotec weavings and other fine art from their home Casa Serra Sagrada in Teotitlán del Valle and their gallery La Mano Májica in Oaxaca City. 2003 also brought Kaswa-Latino Folk Dancers featuring Maria Espiritu, founder and lead dancer from Peru, also featuring Carlos Pozzi, virtuoso guitarist from Argentina, and Teresa and Faust Narvaez, ballroom dancers from Ecuador. A week later, continuing the Latin celebration were Orguesta Timbason, Richmond's only local band playing exclusively Cuban music, featuring Jose Lorenzo, founder and lead singer. In 2003 Consuelo Navarro, professor of Latin American Literature at Virginia Commonwealth University presented Storytelling:Revolutions , and Tioke Nahauake performed Aztec Dances from Mexico City.

Gallery member and performance artist Linda Rae Johnson, known for her Ouchita Girl series of narrative monologues about her childhood in Ouachita Parish, Louisiana, was a rising star at Artspace. She was the author of "Ouchita Girl: Vignettes of a Louisiana Childhood."

In 2003 Leah Lamb led a performance event War: What Is It Good For?, including Richmond's Women in Black's silent protest Piecing: An Exploration of American Identity and Patriotism under the direction of Chris Burnside, Acting Chair of the Dance Department at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Outreach and traveling exhibitions

In 1999, 32 of Artspace ThinkSmall artists sent an exhibition called ThinkSmall VA/PA to Muse Gallery in Philadelphia.

In 200l-2002, Artspace presented at the barber shop, a selection of member artists exhibiting sculpture, drawings, prints, paintings, and photographs at the Pine Street Barber Shop in Oregon Hill, Richmond, Virginia.

In 2001, Ground Level Railroad artists occupied art6.

Other outreach exhibitions included a members' group show at Café Bocce in Scottsville, Virginia, exhibitions at local Richmond nursing homes and the Richmond hospital for disabled veterans, a member's exchange show with a Philadelphia gallery, and a collaboration with the Elegba Folklore Society at a local Richmond private school which focused on the African cultural heritage of its African-American students.

In 2003, Artspace hosted a poetry reading by Gregory Donovan, a poetry professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, and Alfredo Franco, Curator of Education, Jane Voorhees Simmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University.

Collaboration of Artspace and Art6 on ThinkSmall

In the early days of the division of Artspace and Art6, the two galleries collaborated on ThinkSmall, a biennial exhibition of miniature art (size limited to 3" x 3" x 3") which began in 2001 at the Broad Street location. Eventually Artspace in its new location at Plant Zero assumed responsibility for the ThinkSmall exhibition, which by November 2015 had reached ThinkSmall8, the eighth year of the biennial.

Artspace continues in Manchester at Plant Zero

In 2009, local artist Michael Pierce and VCU instructor and artist Ginna Cullen curated BookArt@Artspace, for which they created a blog and published an illustrated catalog of the entire show. Among the artists included in the exhibition were Kenny Scharf, Richard Carlyon, and Keith A. Smith.

In 2013, FO/MENT was an exhibition of art by graduate students in the VCU School of the Arts at Virginia Commonwealth University.

In 2015, Bicycle Stories featured Richmond authors and artists.

In addition to continuing ThinkSmall, Artspace at Plant Zero in Manchester, Richmond, Virginia holds the biennial radius250, a juried exhibition open to artists living and working within a 250 mile radius of Richmond.

In 2015, THE DOODLISTS was a group show of artists celebrating the art of the doodle. Featured were: Dana Frostick, Duane Cregger, Susan Singer, Matt Lively, Henry Stindt, Robin Ryder, Roman Zelgatas, Dee Glazer, Shannon Gilbert, Tracy Herman, Leo Heinzel, and Ja Mes.

In 2016, as part of an observance of Suicide Prevention Week, the father of 30-year-old Virginia artist John Terrell presented an exhibition Full Spectrum: John Terrell Retrospective (20014-2015) at Artspace of the accomplished paintings of his son who suffered from mental illness.

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