published Sunday, August 26th, 2012

Association for Visual Arts Gallery Hop gets a boost

Gallery 1401 is one of 20 local galleries and studios participating in the annual AVA Gallery Hop on Sept. 2.
Gallery 1401 is one of 20 local galleries and studios participating in the annual AVA Gallery Hop on Sept. 2.
Photo by John Rawlston.
  • photo
    Miki Boni Studios is one of 20 local galleries and studios participating in the annual AVA Gallery Hop on Sept. 2.
    Photo by John Rawlston.
    enlarge photo

  • photo
    The H'Art Gallery is one of 20 local galleries and studios participating in the annual AVA Gallery Hop on Sept. 2.
    Photo by John Rawlston.
    enlarge photo

IF YOU GO

What: AVA Gallery Hop.

When: 2-8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8.

Where: Galleries throughout Chattanooga (complete listing online).

Admission: Free.

Phone: 265-4282.

Website: www.avaarts.org.

For the past seven years, the Association for Visual Arts has hosted an annual Gallery Hop, a collective open house of area art studios and galleries, for all to come and visit.

This year, it almost didn't happen. The time and money required to plan the Hop was getting to be too much for AVA to take on alone, said Anne Willson, executive director.

"In fact," she said, "we almost ended it."

But that wasn't acceptable to Miki Boni, a Southside artist and owner of Miki Boni Studios.

"When I heard that AVA was dropping the Gallery Hop," she said, "well, that's probably one of the most popular events we have in Chattanooga that connects the Southside and the North Shore. That really disappointed me a lot."

Boni expressed her disappointment to Willson, and they began to see what they could do to keep the Hop going.

So instead of giving up, they pushed forward. They brought together artists and gallery owners who had participated in the past and talked about how to make it happen.

And now it is.

"It's a most marvelous thing, the way a group of people can sit down and make magic," Boni said. "What's beautiful about AVA is that they're an organization that is for artists and for the arts in Chattanooga."

They took a page from the Southside Stroll, a collective open house, of sorts, that takes place the last Friday of each month.

"It has morphed into more of a collective," said Willson. "We all sat down together and talked about how to make it better."

The goal of Gallery Hop, Willson said, is for residents and visitors to see what the local artists and galleries are doing.

"A lot of times, unfortunately, people aren't sure they can walk in an art gallery," she said. "A lot of times, there's still this subliminal hindrance about how to engage with artists."

The doors are open year-round, she said, but Gallery Hop is the day they all stand on the proverbial front porch and actually call out, "Come in, come in."

The goal, Boni said, is for the art to be what entices people, not big balloons, bells and whistles.

Some galleries show new works for the Hop. Boni will be showing a new series, she said. AVA debuts "Fresh," a show of emerging artists in the region, for the event each year.

A new feature this year will give attendees a chance to win an instant art collection. Visitors to galleries will be given a card to be checked off at each location. The cards will then be entered into a raffle for one of three prizes.

The top prize is a collection of art and gift certificates from the different galleries.

Contact Holly Leber at hleber@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6391. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/hollyleber. Subscribe to her on Facebook at facebook.com/holly.j.leber.

about Holly Leber ...

Holly Leber is a reporter and columnist for the Life section. She has worked at the Times Free Press since March 2008. Holly covers “everything but the kitchen sink" when it comes to features: the arts, young adults, classical music, art, fitness, home, gardening and food. She writes the popular and sometimes-controversial column Love and Other Indoor Sports. Holly calls both New York City and Saratoga Springs, NY home. She earned a bachelor of arts ...

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