My wife Colleen and I both have creative backgrounds and therefore a deep appreciation for the arts. Before we were married, she spent many years in Los Angeles with a gallery in the well-known Bergamot Station complex of Santa Monica. For me, my VCU Art School alum father (and my mother) encouraged my interest in art and design that eventually led me to Architecture School at UVA. Once Colleen and I decided to do away with the cross country travel and get hitched, set up shop in Richmond because of its long history and incredible personality – and the art community is a big part of that. Our City is home to over one hundred murals, a world class art museum, and the #1 public art school in the country… not to mention a number of festivals and small galleries.
Here are just a few of my favorite events and spots:
Virginia Museum of Fine Art (VMFA) is the type of world class art museum normally reserved for much larger cities. I regularly hear first timers express surprise over its quality, scale and beauty. With over 600,000 square feet of exhibition space on thirteen acres and FREE admission, it’s a great place to spend a day, drop in for a low-key lunch or even just relax on the lawn.
First Fridays Art Walk is a year-round event that takes place on… wait for it… the first Friday of every month. The Arts District includes a wide variety of small galleries, design-oriented businesses, performance art venues and VCU’s art school studios. It’s downtown location along Broad Street and the surrounding blocks between Belvidere and the Capitol provide the added benefit of proximity to the galleries, shops and restaurants of the Arts District where you can always find specials, live music and great food.
Murals, murals, murals. Richmond is home to over one hundred murals dotted throughout 11 neighborhoods in the City. Though the murals are located mostly in historic areas, they comfortably blend into their surroundings and have become part of the City’s personality. It’s fun to spend a morning or afternoon walking or biking between murals then stop in at a neighborhood restaurant for a bite to eat. The Richmond Mural Project is a great resource to plan your day.
Arts in the Park is yet another FREE weekend event that has been held annually at Byrd Park for over forty years. The festivities typically include hundreds of quality artists and artisans from all over the country. The food, drinks, music performances and quality time outdoors aren’t bad either.
RVA Street Art Festival: Staying true to their core tenant to “revitalize communities in need of some color and creativity”, the festival is held in a different location every year. This year’s three day event was held April 22 – 24 at the Southern States Silos in Manchester. Stay tuned for details about next year’s event.
COMING SOON: Construction began on the Institute for Contemporary Art in 2014 and is expected to be completed by the end of 2017. Adding to the list of factors that make VCU the #1 ranked public art school, the ICA will be a major player not only in Richmond, but nationally as well. The building will serve as a venue for continuously changing contemporary exhibits, films, performances and programs.
If that’s not enough for you, here a few other hot spots to check out:
- Art Works
- Plant Zero
- Studio Two Three
- Quirk Gallery
- Page Bond Gallery
- Glave Kocen
- Crossroads Art Center
The reRVA Instagram page! We keep it updated with all of Richmonds hotspots as we stumble upon them.