Artist Dee Fontans will be on hand to discuss creating custom jewelry at Gallery Merrick as part of the Downtown Nanaimo First Friday Art Night on Dec. 7. (File Photo)

Downtown Nanaimo galleries join together for First Friday Art Night

Blue Poppy, Gallery Merrick, Nanaimo Arts Council and Nanaimo Art Gallery co-ordinating events

Four downtown galleries are joining together to revive an abandoned monthly tradition for one night.

When the Nanaimo Arts Council and Blue Poppy gallery were on Wallace Street, they would co-ordinate their programming to present First Friday art nights on the first Friday of the month.

NAC general manager Dan Appell said it’s been two years since such an event was held, so when Nanaimo Art Gallery visitor services co-ordinator Aaramë Robillard reached out to ask if he wanted to be part of a First Friday she was organizing, he was eager to come on board.

“We were behind it 100 per cent,” Appell said.

The NAG, NAC, the Blue Poppy gallery and Gallery Merrick are collaborating for the Downtown Nanaimo First Friday Art Night taking place on Dec. 7.

“I think it was a good opportunity, considering our proximity and the holidays coming up, to do something like this again,” Robillard said.

The event coincides with the NAG’s Kindle Holiday Pop-up Market, featuring vendors selling handmade art in the gallery’s ArtLab.

Blue Poppy owner Kim McNutt said she had been holding First Fridays for years, but stopped because it was getting hard to bring people out, “but if the arts council and more businesses are going to get on board, then, yeah, I definitely want to do it,” she said.

McNutt said she will have a raffle and refreshments, as well as a feature exhibition by regular Blue Poppy painter John Shaw, who describes his works as “an eccentric fusion of paper and pigment” inspired by the Island.

At Gallery Merrick, visitors are encouraged to “bring you own gemstone or crystals,” as jeweller Dee Fontans will be on hand to discuss designing pieces of jewelry.

“I feel like I’m making heirlooms and so I want to have that special energy in those pieces,” she said. “And because people are bringing their gems that have so much meaning, it’s going to be a magical experience.”

The First Friday also corresponds with the opening for the next exhibition at the NAC, Works of HeArt. The reception will feature visual art and performances and an interactive art installation.

“We really wanted to promote the businesses that are involved in arts and that are selling art,” Appell said.

He said when multiple art galleries co-ordinate their events, it makes it more worthwhile for people to attend. He said it was meaningful to see the NAG reach out and get involved with the community as well.

“I hope we’re doing it again,” Appell said of the First Friday. “It kind of does depend on the success of this one, but if we are doing it again we’ll be supporting it any way we can.”

WHAT’S ON … Downtown Nanaimo First Friday Art Night at Blue Poppy, 310-60 Commercial St., Gallery Merrick, 13B Commercial St., Nanaimo Arts Council, 78 Wharf St., and the Nanaimo Art Gallery on Friday, Dec. 7 from 5 to 9 p.m.



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