Art6

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Art6, also spelled art6, (2004-2014) was a non-profit (501C-3) member-run art gallery and performance space located at 6 East Broad Street in Jackson Ward in the area which would eventually be designated the Arts and Cultural District of Richmond, Virginia. Four of the artists who previously established the original Artspace 1306 Gallery (and later Artspace Gallery on Broad Street) were joined by two other artists to become the original six founders of the new gallery Art6. The original six co-founders of Art6 were Henrietta Near, Mitzi Humphrey, Marian Hollowell, Doug Hayes, Chuck Scalin, and Thomas MacGillivray Humphrey, Jr. Art6 Gallery had its first organizational meeting at Café Gutenberg in Shockoe Bottom.[1]

2016-05-03 2217 Neon sign designed for art6 gallery by neon artist Robert Ziegler

Art6 was an anchor gallery for Richmond's First Friday art walk events, with a public opening reception for new exhibitions every month of its existence and single-night attendance which sometimes exceeded one-thousand visitors.

In 2004, as part of its educational outreach program, Art6 began a series of Pinkney Near Memorial Lectures in Art History featuring outstanding museum curators and art historians honoring Pinkney L. Near (1927-1990), the long-time curator of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Midway through Art6's Broad Street presence, pioneer Broad Street art galleries, of which Art6 was one of the earliest and most popular, were honored by Style Weekly as "Broad Street Revivalists: 2009 Richmonders of the Year."[2]

Founding of Art6, evolving from Artspace[edit]

Both Art6 gallery and Artspace Gallery evolved from Artspace 1306, a non-profit 50l(c)3 organization gallery which began in a donated, rent-free space at 1306 Cary Street in Richmond's historic Shockoe Slip. Upon the loss of its rent-free space in the Slip, Artspace 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 historic 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 soon became an anchor gallery for Richmond's First Friday Art Walk[3] and one of the most popular and long-lasting venues for the Richmond Arts and Culture District formed for Broad Street and Downtown Richmond.[4][5] When the majority of artist members of Artspace voted to move to Plant Zero in Manchester, six dissenting Artspace members became the founding members of Art6 and remained in their historic building, a former large hardware store located at 6 East Broad Street in downtown Richmond's Jackson Ward.[6]

2016-06-15 1156 another art6 logo shot.png

The founders of art6, hoping for a Richmond cultural Renaissance, agreed to serve as the board of directors. The founders envisioned Broad Street becoming, as it eventually did,[7] a burgeoning cultural corridor stretching from Virginia Commonwealth University's School of the Arts to the planned Performing Arts Center downtown. In order to recruit new artists and seeking a base of 24-30 members, an organizational meeting was held in January at Café Gutenberg at 1700 East Main Street in Richmond's Shockoe Bottom, less than two months before the new art6 gallery opened its doors for its first First Friday exhibition.

Art6's main lower gallery before structural changes

Exhibitions at Art6 in Jackson Ward at 6 East Broad St.[edit]

Artists Collect, Too (Artspace's first show at 6 East Broad after leaving Shockoe Bottom) and Artists Collect, Too II (art6's first exhibition after re-occupying the 6 Broad Street location)[8] were exhibitions from the collections of artist members of the galleries. The second month, two exhibitions of invited guests were featured: Lorraine Brevig: Dolls Make Playtime a Serious Affair and The Photographs of Jeremy M. Lange.[9]

ONE/OFF Printmakers: A Survey filled the Main Gallery at art6 in September of 2002, accompanied by Black Boxes: a collaboration by Mark Shepheard & Deirdra McAfee. In 2004 Rob Amberg's long-term photography series Sodom Laurel Album, based on the culture of Sodom Laurel, a small Reese, North Carolina town, was featured along with banjo music, song, and storytelling from Appalachian artists, including Sodom Laurel resident Sheila Kay Adams.[10]

Fluxus Redux was an exhibition produced in all the galleries of Art6. In 2004 a special Fluxus issue of BroadStrokes was published and then re-published on a Heidelberg Fluxus site.[11]

2016-07-25 1804 Fluxus redux

A discussion of the meaning of fluxus and a photo archive of art6 may be found on the website of art6 member Jimmy Warner.[12] An archive of Broad Strokes, the art6 little magazine edited by Thomas M. Humphrey, Jr., is accessible at the Jimmy Warner homepage.

In 2005 ThinkSmall 3 was a collaboration between Art6 and Artspace, with artists exhibiting their art smaller than 3" x 3" in both galleries. The same year, Fresh Works was a group show which included art by Alyssa Salomon. In 2007 ThinkSmall 4 was at Art6. In 2009 once again art6 and Artspace were showing the biennial ThinkSmall5:The Fifth Biennial International Miniature Exhibition in both the Broad Street locale and in Manchester, Richmond County, Virginia.[13][14]

Among visual artists whose art was represented in varied exhibitions at art6 were David Freed, Brigette Newberry, [15] Tricia Pearsall, Barbara Rachko, Willie Anne Wright, Doug Hayes, Chuck Scalin, Judy Rifka, Sister Mary Corita, Theresa Pollak, Edward Coppola, Thomas Daniel, Henrietta Near, Mitzi Humphrey, Susanne Arnold, Lelia Pendleton, Thornton Dial, Lindsay Brown, Tanja Softic, Aggie Zed, Andy Coppola, Hazel Buys, Anna Golden, Jennifer Yane, Marian Hollowell, Nancy Strube, Istvan Horkay, Davi Det Hompson, Francisco Toledo, Susan Svendsen, Sheryl Humphrey, Louise Odes Neaderland, J.T. Brown, Matt Lively, Melanie Lamaga, Judy Little, Paul Muick, Harvey McWilliams, David Bromley, Julie Adler Noyes, Andrew Campbell, Debbie DaPrano, Frederick Chiriboga, Fermin Trompeta, Bruce Onobrakpeya, Lucy Lippard, Paul DiPasquale, Lloyd C. Chaser, Barbara Tisserat, Gloria Blades (in one-person exhibition in 2008 - Harbor Sentinels), Janine Turner, Jude Schlotzhauer, Liz Sheehan, Alan Entin, Michael Sulsona, Elie Ellis, Ronna Saunders, Ed Franz, James Warner, Helene Ruiz, Wesley Childress, Shann Palmer, Virginia Tyack, Laura Heyward, Ann Drewing, Clifford Edwards, Khalid Thompson, Clifton (Gus) Dickens, Rochelle Rosario, Ana Marie Paredes, Gary Dunn, Ernest Hodnett, Dan Tassone, the Dutch photographer Leo Divendal, and One/Off Printmakers (a circulating Virginia Museum of Fine Arts exhibition). A number of artists in the Master of Fine Arts program at Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts chose to have their graduate thesis exhibitions and critiques at art6.

2016-04-08 0835 Paul DiPasquale at his exhibition Ears at art6 in Richmond

Books, Broadsides, et alia was a book, broadside, and paper ephemera art exhibition at Art6.[16] The exhibition was held in conjunction with the Southern Graphics Council conference in Richmond and featured letterpress calendars by Stephanie Brody-Lederman from a Richmond collection, Longwood College faculty members Kelly Nelson and Kerri Cushman, members of One/Off Printmakers, and faculty artists of Virginia Commonwealth University's School of the Arts.

Opening night photo by Mitzi Humphrey at Matt Lively exhibition at art6 Gallery

In 2007 the second art6 Regional Biennial Juried High School Art Competition was presented. Schools represented in the exhibition selected by the juror, VCU School of the Arts professor David Freed, included: Ashland High School, Maggie Walker Governor's School, Benedictine College Preparatory, Chesterfield Career and Technical Center, Henrico High School, Highland Springs High School, J.R. Tucker High School, Douglas S. Freeman High School, Hermitage High School, Lee-Davis High School, Atlee High School, Henrico Center for the Arts, Armstrong High School, Patrick Henry High School, Hanover High School, Trinity Episcopal School and Open High School of Richmond. While he was still a student at VCU but already gaining recognition by 2009, a painting by Stanley Rayfield[17] was shown in the foyer of art6. An invitational exhibition in 2009 was Women in the Arts.[18] In 2007 Susanne K. Arnold had a solo exhibition at Art6 Gallery entitled Earth Bones.

2009 brought Myron Helfgott's Multi-media Installations to Art6.[19] Other exhibitions included Inked, a show featuring works by Monique Naoum,The Therapy Connection, and works by Dan Tassone, Shoah Series 2010-2011. In July 2011, the Third International Holocaust Remembrance Art Exhibition was curated by David Turner at art6, and the Virginia Commonwealth University Department of Communication Arts presented their senior show.[20]

Masks and False Faces at art6

In 2011 Posted was a solo exhibition by New York artist Judy Rifka. A catalog of the Rifka exhibition was published using color photographs printed by Jennifer Wynne Reeves, edited by Greg Gaskey, with an essay "Rifka's Monsters" by Andrea Scrima, a foreword by Mitzi Humphrey, and a photo of Judy Rifka at The Pink Pony by Alan Entin. The title Posted (of both the exhibition and the catalog) refers to Judy Rifka's innovative posts on Facebook as a creative medium which garnered the invitation to exhibit at Art6.[21][22][23]

In 2012, The Art of Thornton Dial was featured at Art6 as a companion show to the Sellman Collection of Thornton Dial's art at Virginia Union University.[24] Sculptor Paul diPasquale, creator of the King Neptune (statue) sculpture in Virginia Beach, Virginia and the Arthur Ashe statue on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia, installed his exhibition Ears at Art6.[25] The Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant-winning sculptor Charles McGill exhibited in a group invitational show at Art6.

art6 gallery announcement card

Also in 2012 Erasing Borders: Exhibition of Contemporary Indian Art of the Diaspora, an exhibition of art by North American artists with origins in the Indian sub-continent was curated by Vijay Kumar and on loan from the New York Indo-American Arts Council.[26][27] The group exhibition Disguised curated by Helene Ruiz in 2012 featured the masks of Puerto Rican mixed-media artist Juan Carlos Suazo.[28]In 2014, there was A Woman's Touch, an exhibition of art by women in honor of Women's History Month.[29]

Performance art[edit]

Dancer Rob Petres achieved acclaim for choreographing his descent on a rope from the Skylight Gallery of art6, passing through the mezzanine opening, to the ground floor of the Main Gallery. His original Rope performance (1993) was followed by a 1999 performance Transgressions which included two other dancers.[30] In 2007 Amaranth Dance Company performed, and the group Souvenirs of America with Aughra and Erin Tobey had a CD Ocean without Water release performance and party at the gallery. Early performances of Richmond Comedy Coalition took place at Art6.[31]

Frost Place Poets during intermission on mezzanine at art6

Art6 member sculptor Andy Coppola was a performance artist both in the gallery and as a street performer. In 2005, as part of the Orlando Furioso show at art6, his costumed stroll through Richmond caught the attention of the press.[32][33][34]

2016-06-08 1738 Performance artist Andy Coppola at art6.png

Poetry at art6 had its roots in Artspace's long-running Everybody Play Nice series led by haiku poet Marian Hollowell and in the Shockoe Poets migrating from Shockoe Bottom and Shockoe Slip.[35] Another long-running poetry series was River City Secrets,[36] moderated by Shann Palmer and Joanna Lee. In this series was Siddartha Beth Pierce reading from her poetry collection In the Beginning and the End.[37]

In 2009 Art6 began its Bend Your Ear open-mic afternoon poetry readings on every third Sunday. Comedy events at art6 included improv groups such as Paradox Comedy Shows and Workshops, independent comic acts, and traveling comic theatre. Richmond Comedy Coalition had its roots at Comedy Sportz and art6 Gallery. Slash Coleman performed his Neon Man and Me act at art6. When The Frost Place poets met in Richmond for a conference at the Ellen Glasgow House, they presented an evening of poetry readings at Art6, including Cleopatra Mathis reading her most recent work. In 2006 Starr Foster Dance Project produced the 6th Annual Richmond Choreographers Showcase.[38]

Concerts and music events[edit]

In 2004, musician Jimmy Warner led the Tango events during the First Friday opening night for the Fluxus Redux exhibition. For First Friday's artwalk on November 2, 2007, in conjunction with the exhibition ThinkSmall4 gala preview at art6,[39] the group eighth blackbird, at that time the University of Richmond ensemble-in-residence, performed a concert of compositions by Thierry de Mey, Benjamin Broening, Derek Bermel, Jennifer Higdon, Harold Meltzer, and Philip Glass. In 2008, the year after their performance at art6, eighth blackbird won their first Grammy. In 2016, they won their fourth Grammy.[40] Musicians from Garth Newel Music Center in Warm Springs, Virginia gave concerts at art6 including one in 2008 partially funded with a grant from the Virginia Commission for the Arts and Richmond Piano. The Garth Newel Piano Quartet, featuring pianist Andrew Harley, violinist Teresa Ling, violist Evelyn Grau, and cellist Tobias Werner, made their Richmond area debut at art6.[41]

2016-06-26 1728 Glass art by Jude Schlotzhauer and guest pianist at art6

In a 2008 Friday event Balkanize opened for Rattlemouth at art6 featuring belly danceable pieces from Turkey, Armenia, Macedonia, Greece, and Israel. Flautist Kate Watts played classical music selections during numerous First Friday receptions at Art6, including that for the exhibition of art by Thornton Dial and Eugene Vango. In 2010 Jeremy McEntire, flute, and Charles Hulin, piano, presented a concert at art6 which included Duo Concertante (2008) by Richmond composer Allan Blank. New Year's Eve parties at art6 featured bands such as The Ululating Mummies,[42] Rattlemouth[43] and My Son the Doctor. In 2011 Matt Sease and Luke Andrews, who are JUNIPER GREEN gave a First Friday performance at art6.[44] In 2013, Rhythm and Dance was an exhibition at art6 of works in all mediums inspired by music and art, featuring live performances by Chinese Folk Art Club and Anja Dance Tribal.[45] During the 2014 First Friday reception for A Woman's Touch, Ajna Tribal: Middle Eastern Music and Belly Dance performed again.

Outreach and traveling exhibitions[edit]

The art6 Gallery publication, BroadStrokes, composed and edited by one of the six founders of the gallery, Thomas MacGillivray Humphrey, Jr., was the gallery newsletter, appearing both in print and online. All past published issues are archived at the website of musician/poet Jimmy Warner.

art6 Presents was an outreach exhibition of members' art in the Gellman Room of the Richmond Public Library,[46] while several blocks north the show at Art6 itself was Juneteenth, part of the national celebration of the end of slavery in the United States, coinciding with the traditional Jackson Ward Two Street Festival and Broad Street's First Friday Artwalk.

In April 9–11, 1999 choreographer John Bailey and his wife, dancer Frances Wessells, gathered 30 local dancers at art6 for Parade 99, "a pageant of spectacularly costumed dancers and performers paraded--literally through the space."[47][48]

In 2010 the Richmond Worn Again 10: Richmond's Recycled Fashion Benefit[49] at art6[50][51] was part of a series of similar benefit shows based on the prototype New Orleans Worn Again. This event was co-sponsored by Chop-Suey Books as a benefit for Books on Wheels and featured the winning designers of the recycled-clothing-made-into-new-fashions competition modeling their creations on the art6 runway.[52] Several instructional workshops were taught at the gallery, including both an exquisite corpse event and a papier-mâché mask-making family workshop taught by Helene Ruiz, a children's art workshop taught by Margaret Porter-Daniel, and a collage workshop for adults taught by Mim Golub Scalin. Barbara Prema Brown conducted yoga sessions at the gallery.

Annual memorial lecture series in honor of Pinkney Near[edit]

After the death of Virginia Museum of Fine Arts curator Pinkney L. Near in 1990, Art6 Gallery began "The Pinkney Near Memorial Lectures in Art History," featuring invited notable art historians, most of whom had known Near both professionally and personally.[4] The inaugural speaker in the series in the new art6 gallery in 2004 was (NYU art historian and subsequently Dean of Berkeley College and Lecturer Specialist Program in Humanities at Yale University) Mia Reinosa Genoni[53] commenting on Totemic Magic: Suzanna Biro and Frederick Chiriboga, an exhibition then on view in the gallery.[54]

On May 18, 2005 noted art professor Robert Hobbs, holder of the Rhoda Thalhimer Endowed Chair of American Art in the Virginia Commonwealth University's School of the Arts and a Venice Biennale curator, presented the Near Lecture "Fluxus and Conceptual Art". For the next Pinkney Near Memorial Lecture, (University of Virginia Professor Matthew Affron, Director of Special Curatorial Projects at the University of Virginia Art Museum (now the Fralin Museum of Art), in conjunction with a Fernand Léger exhibit shown at the VMFA and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, presented "Fernand Léger: Contrast of Forms." [55]

Richard Bergen Woodward, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Senior Deputy Director of Architecture and Design and also Curator of African art, was twice a speaker in the Pinkney Near series. His subjects were "African Art in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts" and African sculpture. His lectures coincided with a featured African art exhibition at the museum and a gallery installation of African art at Art6. [4] Dr. Joseph Dye III, Curator of South Asian and Islamic Art at the VMFA, was one of the speakers in the series. Dr. Belle Pendleton, Associate Professor of Art History at Christopher Newport University, Newport, Virginia spoke on "The Shipyard Paintings of Thomas C. Skinner:Promoting Prosperity during the Great Depression," focusing on the murals produced by Skinner during the 1920s and 1930s.

In 2012 Susanne Kilgore Arnold, art historian, artist, and teacher at the Visual Arts Center of Richmond was the 12th speaker in the series and spoke on "Ephemeral Figures in Wax" about the history of encaustic art.[56] Dr. Mitchell Merling, Paul Mellon Curator and Head of the Department of European Art, who was Near's successor as curator of the Paul Mellon Collection at the VMFA, talked about the horses of Gericault.[57]

John B. Ravenal,[58] former president of the Association of Art Museum Curators and VMFA's Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary art (subsequently executive director of the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park in Massachusetts) presented the final lecture of the series at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.[59] This was the first offsite lecture in the series; all previous lectures in the series were presented in the main gallery of Art6.

Closing of Art6 on Broad Street[edit]

Gentrification, overflow crowds, loss of an extended lease, higher rent, higher operational costs, and increased new competition from both non-profit and commercial galleries, along with a loss of both private and public parking spaces in a time of economic depression, brought about the demise of Art6. Financially strapped, the gallery started a fundraiser called Staying Alive in April 2010 and was able to stay open into 2014.[60] The Virginia Benefit Chorale, an a capella choir, gave a benefit concert for the gallery. Re-location to other galleries of many of the artist member volunteers who had staffed Art6 and supported the gallery with their dues, gallery commissions on sales of exhibited art, grants, and fundraisers, brought about the closing of one of the liveliest Broad Street First Friday galleries at one of the original Broad Street anchor First Friday exhibition and event locales in Richmond. In 2016, the building at 6 East Broad Street in Richmond, Virginia, owned by lawyer James Sease, became the new Art-Law Building, the site for the office of its owner and an exhibition space for artists.[61] Artist Todd Hale, who divides his time between Richmond and the Outer Banks of North Carolina, after 2003 continued his Studio/Gallery6 on the second floor of 6 East Broad St., exhibiting his art and opening the space for First Friday receptions.[62][63]

References[edit]

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