On the fourth Friday of each month, art enthusiasts — both well-versed and casual alike — visit downtown Wilmington for the Fourth Friday Gallery Nights, free after-hours celebrations organized by the Arts Council of Wilmington in local art galleries.
“Lots of people come from out of town for Fourth Friday,” said Rhonda Bellamy, the council’s executive director. “It helps establish Wilmington as an arts destination.”
The walks started with a couple gallery owners who decided to keep their shops open late on the last Friday of each month.
After the arts council took over organizing the tours in 2012, the tours received more publicity and more galleries decided to join the celebration, opening their doors to evening guests from 6-9 p.m.
Now, 14 galleries are included in the self-guided tour. Among them is Crescent Moon, a store that showcases artists from all over the United States and Canada.
“My husband and I have always been art collectors. We have always supported hand craft in America,” said Joan Loch, Crescent Moon’s owner.
Each month, Loch spotlights an artist for the gallery night. This month’s artist is Marita Bon, a Wilmington-based jewelry maker.
“She does originally designed beaded and silversmith jewelry,” Loch said.
Loch also includes homemade refreshments and live music during Fourth Friday. The next gallery night will feature jazz-rock guitarist Roger Davis.
“The art is an experience, the music is an experience and the refreshments are an experience — it’s all art,” Loch said. “We’ve become quite known because of our Fourth Fridays.”
Loch said the events have transformed substantially since the arts council started organizing them.
“The Fourth Friday Gallery Walk has evolved and it is so much more than what a lot of local Wilmingtonians realize,” she said. “Downtown Wilmington has such a vibrant art scene. I would like the locals to expose themselves to all the galleries around here. You don’t have to see all of the galleries in one evening.”
Tim Duffy, who co-owns River to Sea Gallery with his wife, Rebecca Duffy Bush, participates in the monthly art celebrations.
“This month, we’re featuring Van Campbell. He’s an acrylic painter from Raleigh, North Carolina. He does large canvas depicting abstract ships and sails,” Duffy said.
The gallery also features pottery, greeting cards, photography, glass works and handmade frames inspired by bodies of water.
Duffy encourages Fourth Friday attendees to stop by River to Sea Gallery and enjoy a chilled beverage and a view of Wilmington’s Riverwalk.
Steven Fox, owner of Urban Revival, said the gallery nights allow participants to enjoy work by local artists they wouldn’t see elsewhere.
“It’s a way of getting people to see artists they wouldn’t see otherwise. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s a lot to each artist involved,” he said.
Fox added most of the artists who created the jewelry, vintage furniture and other artwork featured in his store are from Wilmington.
The next gallery night will take place Friday, Aug. 28 from 6-9 p.m. For more information, visit www.artscouncilof