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Art walking, without the chill

We really do love downtown Richmond’s First Fridays Art Walk. It’s a great way to view works of myriad artists in a concentrated area, meet a lot of local characters and just revel in the general spectacle of it all.

At this time of year, however, we prefer our activities a bit more sheltered from the elements. But we don’t have to give up our Art Walk – we’re just moving indoors.

Crossroads Art Center, 2016 Staples Mill Road, will hold an Indoor Art Walk Jan. 21 from 6 to 9 p.m. It features works by a variety of artists, live music and a crowd that can reach 1,500 on a good night. The only thing missing is the cold.

“It’s very much a party atmosphere,” said Jenni Kirby, a co-owner of the center.

“Where else can you meet more than 250 artists in one place and talk to them about their art, how they create what they create? And young budding artists still in school can get up close and personal with the artists. It really encourages them to keep up with their art.

“And, there’s no walking the streets to each art show in bad weather,” she added.

A success story
Crossroads has been in business for more than eight years. Unlike many other galleries that have come and gone in lean economic times, the facility has expanded and added more artists to its core group of exhibitors; today nearly 250 are represented.

Kirby says it’s a family-friendly place. Some patrons may choose just to peruse the galleries, but all works are for sale and many are for lease. Often, you’ll get a chance to meet the artist.

“We’ve been really busy,” said Kirby. “I think a lot of our success has to do with being accessible and having a large selection of works at a variety of prices.”

Clients include private collectors, interior designers and businesses who want to decorate office space.

Featured artists
The Jan. 21 Art Walk coincides with the opening of shows by the James River Art League and painter Judith Judy. There’s also a show of works by Susan Stuller and her students.

The James River Art League, one of the oldest artists’ groups in the Richmond area, recently celebrated its 46th anniversary. Members receive opportunities to exhibit artwork and to attend lectures and demonstrations from noted artists.

Painter Judith Judy is known as a mystical landscape artist. A graduate of Towson University in Maryland, she has exhibited throughout the U.S. and in Lithuania, where she participated in an exhibit at the Lithuanian National Museum of Art (where two of her works are part of the permanent collection). She maintains studios in Northern Virginia and Fenwick Island, Del.

Stuller is a nationally recognized watercolor artist who teaches at Crossroads.

In addition to the special exhibits opening on Jan. 21, Crossroads’ artist-members continue to show works in the 20,000 feet of gallery space.

Shows for a good cause
This month’s Art Walk event will benefit Henrico CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocates), trained volunteers appointed by a Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court Judge to advocate in court for children who are abused, neglected and otherwise in need of services.

In addition, CASA will hold a silent auction that evening, where patrons may bid on everything from small artworks to trips to dinner at local restaurants.

The exhibits run through March 8. For more information, call Crossroads Art Center at 278-8950 or visit http://crossroadsartcenter.com
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