Art for all

First Fridays welcomes everyone to check out the Exchange’s visual arts scene

On the first Friday of each month, the Exchange District comes alive in the evenings to showcase work from artists and introduce newcomers to the world of visual art.

First Fridays in Winnipeg can be traced back to 2010, though similar events have been happening in other places, such as Kansas City, for even longer.

“I just love talking to non-artists about art,” Sarah Swan, coordinator of the Art Talk portion, says.

“I think the public has a lot of interesting questions about art and sometimes there’s an intimidation factor. People wonder, ‘Why is art so weird these days? Why is that chair stuck to a wall with a toothbrush next to it?’ There’s a lot of good questions and we try to answer those in a friendly, non-intimidating way,” Swan says.

The event takes people inside galleries, but also into local business and studios located throughout the Exchange. People can view a diverse array of paintings, drawings, hand-made candles, rugs and even contemporary dancing.

“Studios are normally private spaces so it can be really neat to get a peek inside to see the wonderful mess that artists can make if you get the chance,” Swan says.

Aceartinc. at 290 McDermot Ave. has been participating in First Fridays since the beginning. Co-director Hannah_G says the event has slowly increased traffic and introduced new people to their exhibits over the last five years.

“I think the event hits the suburban demographic we had trouble reaching and we were eager to get more people into the gallery and into the Exchange anyway,” Hannah_G says.

“I enjoy the conversations and introducing people to new ideas and watching people feel empowered by being in a gallery. It’s a public space and it’s not just a space that’s only for artists.”

The stars are dead but their light lives on is showing at Aceartinc. for this month’s edition. The exhibit is created by Fiona Annis, a Montreal-based visual artist who has born in Glasgow, Scotland.

“It fits in with our mandate, which is to support emerging contemporary artists in any medium from diverse backgrounds who are innovating and experimenting with their work,” Hannah_G says.

March also sees the return of the Art Talk/Art Walk segment after a brief hiatus during the colder months.

It starts at 6 p.m. in the Winnipeg Free Press News Café and the $20 ticket price include dinner, an optional walking tour of the galleries and a talk moderated by local artists.

This month the theme is nudity and Swan will be hosting a live interview with artist Robert Sim plus nude models Ian Mozdzen and Lizzy Burt to chat about their experiences.

“All of us are really intimately familiar with, I don’t know, Kim Kardashian’s body for example. We’re going to be talking about nudity in art and why it’s still considered to be kind of a risqué thing to do in this age when nudity is everywhere,” Swan says.

Published in Volume 69, Number 22 of The Uniter (February 25, 2015)

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