Gallery Row’s Summer Festival Series is about expressing yourself, feeling comfortable and having a great place to hang out.
It’s the aim of festival events coordinator Sadie Beaudoin-Lobb.
“It’s free and it’s a fun, safe place to come and relax and be yourself, listen to light music, and hang out with people,” she said. “There is no judgment. Be silly. Be you.”
This is the summer festival’s inaugural year. However, Gallery Row has hosted its annual art festival for years. All events are free to attend.
“I wanted to get more events into the Old City Quarter. I wanted to expand it beyond visual arts to music,” said Beaudoin-Lobb. “Gallery Row is all about exposure of the arts.”
Festivities kicked off with a body painting and open-air yoga session on July 8 and events run every Friday until Aug. 26, from 4:30-6:30 p.m., except Aug. 19. Events are held at 308 Fitzwilliam St.
During the kickoff, people applied body art, face makeup and temporary tattoos and then participated in a yoga session led by Samantha Dubinsky, owner of UR Yoga.
“Yoga gives us all different ways to learn about ourselves, to have opportunities,” said Dubinsky. “It’s energizing the community mind, body and spirit. This is a way to build a local environment.”
Gallery Row’s annual Art Festival, part of the event, runs Aug. 20 from noon to 4 p.m. The gallery unveiling is at 1 p.m.
During the art festival, the current gallery pieces will be sold and there will be a silent auction to raise money. The artists received 50 per cent of the sale and the rest will be donated to the Nanaimo Art Gallery’s Art Lab to support youth art education programs.
“We want to show we are grateful and give back because people gave to us at baby steps,” said Beaudoin-Lobb.
She said next year a piece will be donated to Gallery Row created by Art Lab students.
“That’s kind of exciting,” she said.
The art event also features musical performances from Gabriola’s Shed and Nanaimo’s Boomshack.
Gerry Barnum performs Friday (July 22). Dave Hart wraps up July festivities with a performance July 29. August begins with Hitz on Fitz an Old City Quarter music contest Aug. 5. On Aug. 12 there is a body paint and open-air yoga session. The festival series closes with Hitz on Fitz, performances by the winners of the music contest on Aug. 26.
Each Friday event is sponsored by a Nanaimo business.
“The community of the Old City Quarter has been very supportive,” said Beaudoin-Lobb.
The sponsorship allows the festival to pay all performers and provide the events for free to the public.
She said the summer festival is still seeking donations for the silent auction, is accepting artist submissions for Gallery Row’s art exhibit and is seeking performers for the art festival.
“We want other forms of entertainment on site, said Beaudoin-Lobb, adding it could include musicians, face painters and others.
To donate, inquire about submissions or entertainment e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information go to www.facebook.com/GemFabrications.GalleryRow.