Since First Fridays launched in 2010 to create a vibrant, year-round buzz in the Exchange District, dozens of art galleries and artist studios have opened their doors to give us a peek behind the scenes.
Now the program is offering an Art Talk/Art Walk series to help art lovers better understand what they're seeing as they explore Winnipeg's cultural core.
"We get a lot of people coming through the galleries and studios who are excited to be there, but they don't really know what they're looking at. They may not even have the questions to ask," says Sue Gordon, a local printmaker/painter who came up with the idea for the series.
"I just thought, I know a lot of people who don't know much about art, so let's have an educational arm of First Fridays."
The series, which kicked off in July, operates with a small grant from the Winnipeg Arts Council. The idea is to introduce Winnipeggers to some of the city's artistic movers and shakers and to give them some insight into the creative process.
Participants enjoy a dinner at the Free Press News Café (237 McDermot Ave.), followed by a lecture and interactive discussion on some aspect of art and then a guided tour of some Exchange galleries and studios.
The next event is Friday, Nov. 2, at 6 p.m. Cost is $25 per person, plus taxes.
The theme is Manitoba Artists You Should Know About. Three local galleries (Ace Art Inc., Gurevich Fine Art and Martha Street Studio) will present the work of six prominent Manitoba artists whose work may be better known outside their home province. The lineup includes: Suzi Smith (printmaker); Chantal Mierau (video, textile, installation and drawing); Megan Krause (painter); Robert Sim (landscape and figurative painter); Andrew Valco (realist painter and printmaker); and Leo Simones (printmaker).
"They're not little-known artists," Gordon says. "Andrew Valco, for example, is really well-known, but I think he's more well known outside of Winnipeg. Generally people don't see a lot of his work unless they're involved in the arts scene."
Primed by the "informal, educational and inspirational" lecture portion of the evening, Art Talk/Art Walk participants, Gordon says, will then visit the artists' studios to learn more about the physical and mental processes of making creativity manifest.
"What we want is for people to interact with that whole idea that there's a reason why people make art," she says. "Let's find out why they're making it and how."