Though Blacksburg has a multitude of art galleries downtown, only one is soley managed by students.
XYZ Art Gallery is the student-run gallery located on Main Street. It was founded by Studio Art students 20 years ago as a way to showcase their talent.
“It’s kind of like a safe haven for studio artists to show their work in a public setting,” said Carson Bendel, president of XYZ Art Gallery.
Students control every aspect of the gallery. Faculty advisors give some guidance, but students decide the shows, contact artists and organize events.
“It’s a lot of fun because anything that anyone wants to do, we make it happen,” Bendel said.
Students who wish to submit work do not need to be art majors, and they are also encouraged to participate in running the gallery.
All artists, students or community members, are welcome to submit their work to the gallery for display at any time. The only requirements for a piece of work are for them to be finished and either matted or framed for display.
XYZ displays a variety of art mediums from paintings, drawings, sculptures, ceramics to new media. Animations have been shown using projectors, and performance art has been showcased occasionally as well.
In addition to displaying visual art, XYZ hosts musical performances, open mic nights, poetry readings and movie nights. The space is transformative, however, and is open to for other types of events as well.
“We had a meditation last semester,” Bendel said. “We’re gonna start doing yoga in the gallery.”
Intermediate yoga classes will be held at the gallery every Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. for anyone to participate.
The current show in the gallery is Capital Vices Collection by Meggalif. It was the first show this semester and will be on display during today’s First Friday Art Walk.
“XYZ hadn’t been involved in this event a whole lot in the past,” Bendel said. “But it’s definitely something we’re looking forward to being involved in.”
The first Friday of each month, art galleries in Blacksburg hold an opening for a new artist or exhibit. Laureen Blakemore, director of Events in Downtown Blacksburg, helped organize it into a larger event known as the First Friday Art Walk.
The Art Walk starts at 5:00 p.m. and ends at 8:00 pm.
“The idea was to make it more public, let people know what was going on, and to bring people down into the galleries and stores so they could find out about these great art galleries,” Blakemore said.
Recently the Art Walk changed its format to a self-guided tour. The idea was modeled after a gallery in Ashville, N.C. that Blakemore visited as a part of the Downtown Revitalization Committee.
Brochures for the tour include information about each gallery participating, as well as a map of where each gallery can be found.
“We came back and worked with the Blacksburg Partnership and modeled our brochure on that idea. People can pick that up at any time and know where the galleries are,” Blakemore said.
Brochures are available in downtown stores, the Virginia Tech Visitor’s Center and participating galleries.
Not every participating location is a traditional gallery. Other venues include the Blacksburg Public Library, Bollo’s Café & Bakery, Eucalyptus Massage Center, Mish Mish, Inc., Gillie’s Vegetarian Restaurant, Mill Mountain Coffee & Tea and Pita Vera.
Groups of attendees range from families with young children to students to senior citizens.
“It fosters being local and enjoying your downtown,” Blakemore said.
Gallery owners and managers want more people to see and experience the downtown art culture.
“It’s definitely our goal to promote art in the community,” Bendel said. “I just want people to know that XYZ exists and that we’re doing really cool things.”
On Oct. 10, XYZ will open their Sci-Fi and Fantasy show with a reception running from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.
First Friday Art Walks
Take a self-guided Tour of all of the Gallery Spaces in Blacksburg anytime you like but on the following First Fridays participating Galleries will remain open until 8pm.
Friday October 4
Friday December 6
Gallery Guide & Art Walk brochures available in downtown stores, the Virginia Tech Visitor’s Center and participating galleries. Get details here: http://www.downtownblacksburg.com/art_at_market.aspx