First Fridays: February 3
When Kemi Layeni was a child, she asked her mother to do her hair “like the fishies,” to fit her thick, kinky hair into a sleek ponytail. “I so desperately wanted to be anyone but me,” Layeni says, “whether that meant trading in my kinks for blonde hair, changing my name, Oluwakemi, to something more palatable, like Anna, or taking my skin, which to me was the ugliest thing about me, and the thing I was most ashamed of, and having white skin. That was the essence of beauty to me, and I wanted to be beautiful.”
In her short film American Beauty?, Layeni exorcises the pain she felt as a child and as an adolescent. She stares straight into the camera as she cuts her hair and applies makeup.
“As an artist, the only thing I can truly offer people is…my vulnerability,” Layeni says, defining vulnerability as the ability to be wounded. She believes there’s great power in facing vulnerability and not running from it—if we address it, it can reveal powerful truths.
“When we view painful moments in the lives of people of color, we immediately feel pity for them,” she says. “We feel righteous in our sympathy. But there is a huge difference between sympathy and empathy, and there’s an even bigger difference between empathy and taking action. This isn’t just a film about a sad black girl who wishes she were white. No. It’s much deeper than that.”
Art on the Trax 5784 Three Notch’d Rd., Crozet. “Up Close and Far Away,” featuring watercolors of botanicals, landscapes and feathers by Betty Gatewood. Opens Saturday, February 11.
FF The Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative 209 Monticello Rd. “Empowering Women of Color,” an exhibition of work by Kemi Layeni, Golara Haghtalab, Porcelyn Headen, Emma Brodeur and Sarmistha Talukdar. 5:30pm.
FF C’ville Arts Cooperative Gallery 118 E. Main St. “Paper Dreams: Contemporary Quilling,” featuring decorative designs made of thin strips of rolled paper by Deb Booth. 6-8pm.
FF Chroma Projects Gallery 112 W. Main St., Ste. 10. “Bindings,” featuring canvas strip hangings by Reni Gower; tissue paper and thread collage by Susan Crave Rosen and tapestry by Brielle DuFlon. 5-7pm.
FF City Clay 700 Harris St., Ste. 104 “Lively Pots,” featuring pottery by Waynesboro potter Jake Johnson. 5:30-7pm.
FF CREATE Gallery 700 Harris St. “FASEB BioART: The Beauty and Excitement of Biological Research,” featuring prize-winning images from scientists across the country. 5-7pm.
Crozet Artisan Depot 5791 Three Notch’d Rd., Crozet. A display of works by Innisfree Weavery and Woodshop artisans. Opens Saturday, February 11.
Deese Hall 4133 Earlysville Rd., Earlysville. An exhibit featuring paintings inspired by nature from Deborah Rose Guterbock along with figurative paintings and comics illustrations from Aaron Arthur Irvine Miller. Opens Sunday, February 4.
FF Fellini’s #9 200 Market St. “Inspired in Crozet,” featuring acrylic paintings on canvas by Janet Pearlman. 5:30-7pm.
The Fralin Museum at UVA 155 Rugby Rd. “The Gift of Knowing: The Art of Dorothea Rockburne”; “Ann Gale: Portraits”; “New Acquisitions: Photography,” featuring work from Danny Lyon, Shirin Neshat and Eadweard Muybridge; and “Oriforme” by Jean Arp.
Java Java Café 421 E. Main St. “Traces,” a series of mixed media abstract miniatures inspired by artist Yasmin Bussiere’s journey to the Middle East.
FF Kardinal Hall 722 Preston Ave. “River and Mountain,” featuring work by Linda Staiger. 4:30-6:30pm.
Kluge-Ruhe Collection 400 Worrell Dr. “Body Ornaments,” objects by indigenous Australian ceramic artist Janet Fieldhouse.
FF Les Yeux du Monde 841 Wolf Trap Rd. “New Paintings by Ellen Hathaway,” featuring acrylic and mixed-media works. 1-5pm.
FF McGuffey Art Center 201 Second St. NW. “Absence/Presence” featuring sculptural mixed media drawings and book arts by Julia Merkel in the Sarah B. Smith Gallery; “Flotsam” by L. Michelle Geiger and other artists in the Lower Hall North and South; “ART 4 ALZ” featuring work completed by persons with memory impairment and their care partners in the Upper Hall North and South. 5:30-7:30pm.
FF Second Street Gallery 115 Second St. SE. “Memoria y Creencias Culturales/Memory and Cultural Beliefs,” featuring the work of José Bedia, a contemporary Cuban painter who explores cultural preservation through the research and collection of indigenous and African art, and adapts those forms in the visual language of his paintings and large-scale installations. 5:30-7:30pm.
Shenandoah Valley Fine Art Center 26 S. Wayne Ave., Waynesboro. An exhibit featuring the work of visual arts students from the Shenandoah Valley Governor’s School.
FF Spring Street Boutique 107 W. Main St. “Seasonal Paintings,” featuring watercolor and pastel works by Trilbie Ferrell Knapp. 6-8pm.
FF Studio IX 969 Second St. SE “IRC World Art Exhibit,” featuring drawings by 33 refugees from eight countries living in the Charlottesville area. 5-7pm.
Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church 717 Rugby Rd. “Angels and Still Life,” featuring paintings by Anne de Latour Hopper. Opens Sunday, February 5.
FF Top Knot Studio 103 Fifth St. “The Renewal Series,” featuring paintings by Wolfgang Hermann that allow the viewer to explore an inner landscape, dream and open forgotten memories. 5:30-7pm.
FF VMDO Architects 200 E. Market St. An exhibit featuring graphite and white-pencil drawings by Todd Dagget. 5:30pm.
FF Welcome Gallery at New City Arts 114 Third St. NE. “Not Made In China,” featuring paintings by Steve Taylor. 5-7:30pm.
FF WVTF & Radio IQ Studio Gallery 218 W. Water St. “Following Longitudes and Latitudes,” featuring gouache and oil paintings by Elizabeth Schoyer. 5-7pm.
Woodberry Forest School 898 Woodberry Forest Rd., Woodberry Forest. “Exploraciones,” featuring work by Colombian-born artist Diego Sanchez, who takes an intuitive approach to painting.
FF First Fridays is a monthly art event featuring exhibit openings at many downtown art galleries and additional exhibition venues. Several spaces offer receptions.