The world has gone virtual — and that includes art shows. Downtown Visalia’s popular First Friday Art Shows used to get people out on Friday nights to walk or drive between the various art venues to look at art, hear music, visit with friends, and enjoy snacks and wine.
Now you have to enjoy snacks and wine at home. Sadly, you won’t have friends to chat with, but you can enjoy art from the comfort of your computer.
The Arts Consortium and Arts Visalia have been hosting virtual art shows since the Stay at Home orders came down last spring. This month the Brandon-Mitchell Gallery has joined them, and the Arts Consortium hopes that more of the past participants will join virtually.
So here’s what you can see and hear this Friday. Just go to www.artsconsortium.org and then click on Programs. Everything is pre-recorded, so you can listen whenever it is convenient.
In October the Arts Consortium is featuring the musical stylings of Pa’ Chango’s frontman and creator, Hector Uriarte (known as Chango). He’ll perform four songs with a mix of upbeat Latin rock rhythms the local band is known for.
Also on the Arts Consortium website, you can listen to the interviews and demonstrations by local artists from past months, including gourds by Toni Best, sculptures by Richard Arenas, woodblock prints by Michelle Goans, and granite carvings by Mark Robinson.
You rarely got to see demos and get so much info about the artists during the live First Fridays. This is one of the benefits of going virtual.
Arts Visalia is featuring two artists through October. Paul Buxton is a farmer-artist who uses an impressionist style to show the beauty of the San Joaquin Valley. Mathew Rangel is a teacher at COS and shows his lithography and other printmaking styles.
Also on the Arts Visalia website are past interviews and shows, including Abby Rubinstein, Christina Brunk, and Handweavers of the Valley.
Arts Visalia is continuing its children’s art classes with take-home art kits that are mailed to the student’s home with demo video and supplies.
Arts Visalia will also be celebrating its 25th anniversary next year and is grateful for all of the community support during this difficult year. So be sure to stay tuned for all of the 25th-anniversary events coming up.
The Brandon-Mitchell Gallery, located in the Center for Spiritual Living, has joined the virtual world with a show entitled “Landscapes of the Soul” by Betty Berk. She calls her style “expressionist fusion” and is known for her colorful paintings of nature.
If you go to www.brandonmitchellgallery.com, Berk not only discusses her art but also displays her talent at the piano in the video about her show. She listens to music to inspire her art.
What artists are saying
Although artists have lost many in-person bookings, they are getting used to selling on-line.
“Artists are giving us mixed feedback,” said Ampelio Mejia Perez, executive director of the Arts Consortium, Tulare County’s designated arts council, which coordinates First Friday. “At the very beginning, everyone was very upset because all of their moneymaking events were shut down, but as the pandemic progressed, I heard that more and more artists were taking advantage of the downtime to create more work, and some are actually selling quite regularly.”
Arts Visalia has decided to extend its normal exhibition time of one month to allow as many guests as possible the opportunity to come into the gallery during available appointment times.
“The biggest challenge we have been facing has been moving back all the amazing exhibitions we had scheduled for this year to 2021 in anticipation that we will be able to open our doors again,” said Gallery Director Michelle Goans, “as well as finding new and exciting content for our Virtual First Fridays. But we are committed to making sure the community has something great to look forward to each month even if we can’t gather in the gallery.
The gallery has had over 1,200 visitors to its virtual events.
“It seems like most artists I know have really shifted their focus on selling their work online during this time and are truly utilizing social media to accomplish this,” said Goans.” The focus on shows in 2021 and 2022 has been a trend I have seen as well. When Arts Visalia had our 2021-22 call to artists recently, we received a record number of exhibition proposals.”
Betty Berk had to cancel many shows and is delighted to be able to show her work online at the Brandon-Mitchell Gallery. She has brought several people into the gallery to see it in person. You can email her directly at [email protected] if you want to see the show in person.
As director of the county-wide Arts Consortium, which had to cancel its two big spring and fall events this year, Mejia Perez would like to hear from more artists and enthusiasts.
“I think I just really want to hear what artists need and what they want to see. We might not be able to realize all of their ideas, but we at least want to know that we aren’t leaving anyone completely helpless during these tough times,” he said.
“I would also like to see more subscriptions on our YouTube channel so that people can get notified when we upload a new First Friday or membership meeting video.”
The Arts Consortium has been doing some replanning and reorganizing to work within pandemic guidelines. Mejia Perez invites everyone to attend the virtual Arts Consortium membership meeting on Monday, Oct. 12 at 5:30 p.m. to learn exciting new plans.
How to attend
Virtual First Friday Art Show at 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 2. Go to www.artsconsortium.org and click on Programs or go to YouTube and subscribe to the Arts Consortium channel. You can also see the art show videos at www.artsvisalia.org and www.brandonmitchellgallery.com
This article originally appeared on Visalia Times-Delta: Missing arts and culture? First Friday goes virtual as COVID-19 pandemic continues