To help mark its 50th birthday, the
Starting Thursday, Jan. 19, the center's monthly Art After 5 gatherings will feature musicians chosen specifically for their devotion to original sounds.
"We want to provide opportunities to local and regional artists to share what they are passionate about," said Courtney Gardner, interim director. "That means musicians as well as the visual arts."
The new approach has been in the works for months.
Last fall, as Gardner was brainstorming ideas for the anniversary, she talked to the center's marketing director, Mike McGrann, about how to better showcase local art and create new connections with the community.
McGrann is a major music fan, a man who gets excited talking about rock bands such as the Pixies and
An idea took hold to recast Art After 5 — a well-established after-work party at Pfac — as a showcase for fresh, eclectic sounds. The series has long been a dependable venue for quality local music. Songwriting musicians including the Annie Johnson Band and Momentary Prophets have performed there in the past.
Building on that momentum, McGrann booked artists for 2012 who play original music. All have never performed at Art After 5 before. The lineup, created from a list of nominations made by this reporter, covers a range of genres from the "folkestral" style of Chesapeake-based Bison to the reggae of Hampton's EVER-G and the jazz fusion of As-1, also a Hampton act.
"We want to reach out to the community in different ways, to bring in some people who have never been to Pfac before," said McGrann. "People can come and hear a band and at same time see visual art being made, someone out in gallery painting or making pots … I can't think of anywhere else where you can hear a band like Bison or EVER-G, very different types of bands, but also see someone making a beautiful water color." At least two artists typically demonstrate their methods at Art After 5 events.
Expanding the center's reach and creating an artistic crossroads is the central aim.
"What's also important for me, is that we've got artists talking to bankers, business people talking to college students," McGrann said. "It's already a very diverse audience we bring in. Now, we're reaching out to community and making new connections that might not otherwise happen."
All this ties into the center's mission to make art more of a participation sport on the Peninsula and beyond. "Art isn't meant to be a passive experience," McGrann said. "Music really enhances that idea. It can create an ambience, a platform for people to talk about art and ideas with new people they just met."
Art After 5, which emerged from an earlier series called Arts Café, seeks to reshape common perceptions about what takes place at an arts center.
"People tend to think that when they come into a visual art experience, it's quiet and you're there to interact with only one or two people. It's all in very hushed tones," McGrann said. "That's not at all what Art After 5 is about. It's about experiencing and sharing and hopefully discovering something new."
Here's a closer look at the musical groups set to perform at Peninsula Fine Arts Center in coming months.
Bison, Jan. 19. It's safe to say there's no band in
As-1, Feb. 16. A skilled electric guitarist, Carlton Savage has been playing with various
Broken Mouth Annie, March 15. A rock band that hails from the wilds of Suffolk, Broken Mouth Annie is fronted by singer-guitarist Anson Morris and singer-percussionist Victoria Hundley. The group features musicians who are veterans of the local alternative rock scene. The sound of the current group draws in acoustic Americana influences, however. "Alt-country meets grunge meets PBR sort of thing," is the description posted on the band's
EVER-G, April 19. Singer EVER-G, aka Everett Streete, is a Jamaican-born artist who has helped keep the sound of reggae alive on the Peninsula since 1996, when he settled in Hampton after living and playing in Florida,
The Fuzz Band, May 17. Hampton's Fuzz Band plays a hard-to-define, easy-to-enjoy blend of R&B, hip-hop, jazz, rock and soul. Formed in 1997 by students at
Want to go?
What: Art After 5 spring music series, with performers selected by Daily Press music reporter Sam McDonald
When: 5:30-7:30 p.m., on the third Thursday of each month
Where: Peninsula Fine Arts Center, 101 Museum Drive in
Admission: Free, but donations are encouraged