Community members at an exhibition at The ArtLab.

Uptown Greenville hosted its virtual First Friday Art Walk July 3 for the month of July from 5 to 8 p.m., which was documented through Facebook.

The virtual event featured several artworks of different media forms from various artists. A few local art galleries participated in the event, such as Emerge Gallery and Fine Arts Center, The ArtLab and the Greenville Museum of Art (GMOA).

Sarah Lazure, the marketing and finance coordinator for Emerge, said the gallery hosted a virtual musical and mural exhibition for the First Friday Art Walk event, which premiered at 5 p.m. with a second showing at 7, with its content being posted to its Instagram and Facebook pages.

“Since First Friday Art Walks are still virtual for all of us in Greenville, we incorporated a visual exhibition with a musical performance. This continued our efforts to give a platform to Black voices. The Murals exhibition is called ‘Black Voices Matter’ and the music performance is titled ‘American Reflections, Is Time Really Standing Still’,” Lazure said.

Although this event and the past First Friday Art Walk events during COVID-19 have been virtual, Lazure said Emerge has continued to see a decent amount of participation in its events.

Lazure said Emerge’s virtual exhibition featured a performance from several different musicians as part of their African American Music Series, as well as the murals on the outside of the gallery. She said Emerge continues to try to participate in as many arts and cultural events as possible.

“Just because we are not able to reopen yet, that doesn't mean that we are absent from the arts community. Part of our mission is to provide arts education and artistic opportunities to Pitt County. By participating in the art walk and many other virtual activities, we are continuing to promote the artists of our arts community and provide cultural content to our residents,” Lazure said.

BJ Smith, an artist in residence at The ArtLab, said in an email statement that the gallery put together an exhibition for the First Friday Art Walk titled “The Walk by Exhibition.”

Smith said in an email statement, The ArtLab appreciates the chance to participate in the First Friday Art Walks as it has been closed since April. He said The ArtLab has participated in the First Friday Art Walk series for around a year and a half now.

“We typically use these Art Walk events as openings for our new exhibitions. Each event has its own personality where visitors can enjoy refreshments while enjoying the artwork, live music, and exploring our open studios. These virtual Art Walks give us the opportunity to share art with our community while doing what we need to do to keep our artists and patrons safe,” Smith said in the email statement.

The ArtLab’s exhibition featured artwork from Smith and two other artists, Liz Steiner and Jacinda Aytch at The ArtLab, according to Smith. The exhibition featured a variety of mediums, such as jewelry, hand cut paper portraits, digital prints and woodwork.

Smith said in the email statement, The ArtLab chose to be a part of the First Friday Art Walk series because of Greenville’s growing arts scene. He said he believes the series is a great way for the community to see the art from local artists and artists from around the country.

“I think many people would be blown away by the art that they can enjoy from local galleries and the Greenville Museum of Art. Not just local artists, but from all over the country. It's also the easiest way to support local art businesses. Even a little heart emoji goes a long way by letting us know you appreciate what we do,” Smith said in the email statement.

Trista Reis Porter, the executive director for the GMOA, said that the museum participated in the virtual event by sharing pictures and videos of its exhibit on social media, titled “Freeman Vines Hanging Guitars.”

Porter said the museum staff showed a small portion of the exhibit and hopes when the museum can open to the public, people can come see the rest of the exhibit that wasn’t shown in the virtual tour.

“'Freeman Vines Hanging Tree Guitars’ is a combination of handmade guitars by Freeman Vines. He is an artist from the Farmville (North Carolina) area and originally from Fountain, North Carolina. He basically taught himself how to make these handcrafted guitars,” Porter said. “Some of them (the guitars) are more traditional, like electric guitars, and some of them have like faces or animals or different designs carved into them.”

The museum showed photography by Tim Duffy, a photographer and one of the founders of Music Maker Relief Foundation, a nonprofit organization in Hillsborough, North Carolina, which the GMOA partnered with for the exhibition, Porter said. The black and white photos showed Vines working on his art in his studio and around his home.

Porter said artwork was shared live on its Instagram and Facebook stories, and then videos and pictures were posted after for those who missed the live showing.

“It (the virtual art walk) allows us to still provide content for the community, even though we’re not really sure when we will be able to open again. It’s the main way that we’re able to provide art for our community, even while we’re not able to have people here physically. The fact that we’re able to give a video tour is certainly helpful during these times,” Porter said.

More information on Emerge Gallery and Fine Arts Center, The ArtLab and the GMOA can be found on its Instagram and Facebook accounts. More information on the First Friday Art Walk series can be found on its Facebook page or Uptown Greenville’s website.

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