First Friday: "Snap it up!" edition

Jeff James, "Chicago Train."
Jeff James, "Chicago Train."

Although the weather is conspiring to put a damper (well, more like a drencher) on First Friday, June's art stroll promises to be long, varied, and enriching, if wet. With Look3, Festival of the Photograph slated to come into focus next week, this month's exhibitions are by and large products of looking through the lens. In addition to offering the rare chance to spend time with work by numerous premier international photographers–Sylvia Plachey at the McGuffey Art Center, Martin Parr at Second Street Gallery, Gilles Peress at the temporary Michie at 7th Gallery, and James Nachtwey at Look3's 101 E. Main St. Gallery, to name but a few–the Festival serves as an occasion for local shooters to strut their stuff.

Topping the list of recommendations, Jeff James tonight opens his exhibition, "Bedtime Stories," at Fellini's #9. James' images of childhood  have an ethereal quality and a haunting aesthetic, even when depicting joy. The work is stunning and well worth dodging a few raindrops to see.

Meanwhile, Billy Hunt uses his camera to beautifully reveal how our throw-away culture affects the local landscape in "Disposable Rivanna," which is on show at Caf© Cubana. Down the street at the Mudhouse, former Hook shooter, now teaching in Iraq, Jay Kuhlman presents "Arabian Streets."

Another not-to-miss stop on this evening's puddle-strewn circuit is "El Barrio," which is on display at The Bridge. The eye-opening images are the result of the iConnect Southwood Youth Photography Project, which taught several local students how to use digital cameras and then sent them to their neighborhood, Charlottesville's Southwood mobile home park, to shoot their lives. The results are fascinating, and the reception promises to be food-filled and festive (get ready to speak Spanish!).

As always, those shows form just the tip of the First Friday iceberg. Don't like photography? Then check out Jesse Wells and Kristin Smith's exhibition of embroidered work and drawings at the Garage, the group show, "Assemblages" at Paintings & Prose, and Micah Cash's abstract paintings at the Paramount.

Here's the rundown of what to see amid the downpours:

June First Friday (June 5)

Fellini's #9 welcomes "Bedtime Stories,” an exhibition of photographs by local fave Jeff James, 5:30-7pm. 200 W. Market St. 979-4279.

The Mudhouse, in conjunction with Look3, hosts an opening reception for photographer (and former Hook shooter) Jay Kuhlman's exhibition, "Arabian Streets." 6-8pm. 213 W. Main St. 984-6833.

Art Upstairs hosts an opening for painter Bill Finn's exhibition, "Bricks: Images of C-ville,” 5-8pm. 112 W. Main St. in York Place on the Downtown Mall. 923-3900.

Try & Make hosts a "First Friday" Channa book release, karaoke night, and art object sale (name your price). 608 Preston Ave. (next to Reid's). For more information, contact Jaymee Martin at

Les Yeux du Monde, in conjunction with the Festival of the Photograph, hosts a reception for Michael Bowles' exhibition, "The Immense and Brooding Spirit," on the third floor of the Maclin Building. 5-7pm. 401 E. Market St. (third floor). 973-5566.

Paintings & Prose Gallery hosts an opening reception for "Assemblages," an exhibition curated by Dorothy Palanza, featuring work by Dr. Richard Bay, Carla O. Paynter, and James Hall. 5:30-8:30pm, with an artist’s talk by Dr. Richard Bay at 7pm. 406 E. Main St. on the Downtown Mall. 220-3490.

Caf© Cubano opens local fave Billy Hunt's latest collection of photographs, "Disposable Rivanna," which explores "the prevalence of trash on our wild spaces, and our relationship with waste and consumption as is relates to the environment." 5-6:30pm. 112 W. Main St. (in York Place). 971-8743.

Look3, Festival of the Photograph, hosts an opening for French photographer Gilles Peress' exhibition, "Natures Mortes," Michie at 7th, 5:30-7:30pm. Old Michie Building (entry on 7th St.). 977-3687.

Second Street Gallery, in conjunction with the Festival of the Photograph, celebrates the opening of  "Martin Parr: Luxury," an exhibition wittily exposing "flamboyant leisure" and "excess consumption." 5:30-7:30pm. 115 Second St. SE. 977-7284.

Art Upstairs welcomes painter Bill Finn's exhibition, "Bricks: Images of C-ville," with a reception, 5-7pm. 112 W. Main St., Suite 3 (York Place). 923-3900.

The Bridge, in conjunction with the Festival of the Photograph, opens "El Barrio (The Neighborhood): The iConnect Southwood Youth Photography Project," which showcases images shot by local students who recorded life in their neighborhood, Charlottesville's Southwood mobile home park. 6-8pm. 209 Monticello Road (across from Spudnuts). 984-5669.

The Garage opens "New Works by Jesse Wells and Kristin Smith," 5:30-8pm. N. 1st St. (across from Lee Park).985-630-1466.

The Paramount celebrates its exhibition of paintings from Baltimore-based artist Micah Cash's ongoing "Substance" series with a reception, 5:30-7:30pm. 215 E. Main St. on the Downtown Mall. 979-1922.

The McGuffey Art Center and Look3 Festival of the Photograph open four stellar photography exhibitions: Sylvia Plachy's "Waiting" in the main gallery; Tipper Gore's "Bishop Glacier" and Joel Sartore's "Vanishing Gems" in the downstairs hall galleries; and Redux Pictures' "American Youth" in the upstairs hall gallery. 5:30-7:30pm. 201 Second St. NW. 295-7973.

La Galeria hosts an opening reception for Mary Porter's exhibition of photographs, "American Travels," 5-8pm. 218 W. Market St., Ste. 1. 293-7003.

BozART Gallery opens "Rivers of Virginia," an exhibition of landscape paintings by Barbara Wachter, 5-9pm. 211 W. Main St. on the Downtown Mall. 296-3919.

C'ville Arts opens "World of Enchantment," a show of Flame Bilyue's paintings that "invite the viewer to step into a magical and mystical realm." 6-9pm. 118 E. Main St. on the Downtown Mall. 972-9500.

Virginia Artists in Action hosts a reception for "A New Breed of Photography," a group show featuring work by Angela Orebaugh, Candace Schoner, Ellen Osborne, Floyd Hurt,  Susan Ema Vernon, Thomas Barton, Elyse Smith, Jason McDaniel, and Justin Connor. 5:30-8pm. 112 W. Main St. on the Downtown Mall. 970-ARTS.

The Gallery @ 5th & Water opens photographer Bonny Bronson's exhibition, "Looking Back: Retrospectives of Dance and Illusion," 5:30-8:30pm. 107 5th St. (in the stairwell and upstairs foyer to Hampton & Everett and Stoneking/von Storch). 979-9825.

Spring Street holds a second opening for Jack Looney and Eliza Bishop's photography from Virginia Fashion Week. 6-8pm. 107 W. Main St. on the Downtown Mall. 975.1200.

Staunton's KRONOS Gallery opens Kevin Postupack's "Retrof***ingspective," 5-7pm. 14 Byers St. (on The Wharf). 540-213-1815.