For the past decade, artists have been renting space in a small converted office building off of Capital Boulevard north of downtown Raleigh.
To mark its 10-year anniversary, Bonded Llama Studios will display puppets, performance art, paintings and more at The Block Gallery for First Friday.
“A lot of arts organizations come and go,” said Bonded Llama member Ann Marie Kennedy. “We’re excited to be celebrating 10 years in the same building.”
Bonded Llama artists don’t all specialize in one medium or discipline, and they rarely display work as a group, Kennedy said,. So the exhibit at The Block Gallery, a city-run space in the Raleigh Municipal Building on Hargett Street, is extra special.
Kennedy’s specialty is handmade paper. When she visited Bonded Llama’s newly opened studio 10 years ago, she found a basement space with several drains that would allow her to fill and drain tubs for paper pulp. She also found an upstairs space that provided a picturesque view of the sunset.
“I was thrilled,” she said.
The building, once the administrative headquarters of a cotton company, is lined with rows of connected offices. The setup requires artists to walk through other studios on the way to their own, and the interaction fosters a collaborative atmosphere, Kennedy said.
“It’s really funky and something that has inspired art,” she said.
At least one portrait of the Bonded Llama building will be in the show, she said.
Kennedy and her fellow artists decided to apply to host a show at The Block Gallery because they knew the two-story space would allow plenty of room to show off their work.
The exhibition will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. June 3, earlier than many other First Friday shows.
“We try to market it as being the first stop for people on First Friday,” said Stacy Bloom Rexrode, who operates The Block Gallery for the city of Raleigh.
In the past, exhibitions at the gallery didn’t coincide with First Friday, but officials changed the format last summer to show the city’s solidarity with the arts community, Rexrode said.
“It absolutely has helped improve our visibility and the number of people who came through,” she said.
Shows at Block Gallery are on display for six weeks, so the space takes part in only six First Friday events each year.
The gallery calls for artist submissions about every 18 months, and a jury assembled by Rexrode chooses which artists will be allowed to show their work.
Rexrode said art in a city-owned building engages visitors headed to pay parking tickets or water bills.
“People that might not go into a gallery or museum get a chance to experience art,” she said.
Chris Cioffi: 919-829-4802, @ReporterCioffi
Want to go?
First Friday, from 6 to 9 p.m., is a monthly art event in downtown Raleigh. Galleries stay open late, and many restaurants offer special deals. To learn more, go online to FirstFridayRaleigh.com.
More First Friday
Tipping Paint Gallery and 311 Gallery, 311 W. Martin St.: “Vicki Rees” Expansion”
Gallery C, 540 N. Blount St.: Oils by Kathy Daywalt and bronzes by Michiel Van der Sommen
Local Color Gallery, 311 W. Martin St.: Works by 12 local female artists
Artspace, 201 E. Davie St.: “An Exhibition of New Works by North Carolina Artists”
CAM Raleigh, 409 W. Martin St.: “The Ease of Fiction”
Flanders Art Gallery, 505 S. Blount St: “Ashlynn Browning: Walls and Windows”
Litmus Gallery, 312 W. Cabarrus St.: Wine reception
Visual Art Exchange, 309 W. Martin St.: “SCOPE 2016: the southern landscape”
Deco Raleigh, 19 W. Hargett St.: Minimalist production of “Two Gentlemen of Verona” by Bare Theatre in the parklet at the corner of Salisbury and Hargett streets