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Amanda Robinson, Jeremy Parker

Gallery director, Creative director

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Then in March she was approached by Jeremy Parker, who was starting a new publication called RVA magazine and wanted to interview her about the museum gallery. Parker, 29, short-haired, long-bearded, half-tattooed, seems to have that rare and valuable trait in a world of artists: the ability to organize.

"There's all these creative circles and I want them to start overlapping," he says. (And unlike the do-it-because-we-can mentality of many start-up magazines, Parker actually edits for content, meaning an article is not assured a space just because it includes bad words.)

In the course of talking, Robinson and Parker decided to put together a show at what would be called Gallery5. "He gave me a deadline for the first time," Robinson says.

It was April 15. And in two weeks they put together art and bands for the event. About 1,000 people came to see the show and pick up copies of the premiere issue of RVA magazine, inside which was an article about Gallery5. The 'zine and the gallery were effectively intertwined after that.

With help from her father, real-estate developer Tom Robinson, Amanda and Parker started producing monthly First Friday shows featuring the work of young local artists and young local bands. The shows come together on the spur of the moment, Amanda Robinson says: "Every show, I pull it out of my ass at the last minute." After the other galleries close for the evening, Gallery5 keeps going like a frat house, which causes some problems with the neighbors, whose appreciation of art apparently ends after 10 p.m.

Parker and Robinson seem to have succeeded in focusing on the energy of Richmond's youth culture. A recent poll at one of their shows revealed that 80 percent of the attendees had found out about it through MySpace.com, which Parker calls a "networking tool," and which is a long, long way from a gated community newsletter.

In Gallery5's nine months, it's also partnered with filmmaking groups Yellow House and Project Resolution and music organizers the Patchwork Collective, Hit Play and Your Ghost. Now the focus is on turning the gallery into a performance arts center by offering studio art classes, yoga and dance, and filmmaking seminars. Meanwhile, the artists that RVA magazine profiles every month often end up on Gallery5's walls, and vice versa.

Robinson says she's working to establish Gallery5 as a nonprofit and to resolve zoning issues to keep the fire marshal from raising an eyebrow at well-populated events. So far, they say, every dime they make goes back into the gallery.

They've recently started hosting concerts a few times a week, further blurring the distinction between gallery and club. But, Robinson says, February's show — a nude art show — promises to be the biggest yet. In addition to artistic renderings of the male and female forms, there will be 20 nude models upstairs, painted white and bewigged like statues. It's a delicate balance, Robinson says. If the models should move too suggestively, the gallery, in the eyes of the state, becomes a strip club. Very delicate, indeed.

That straddling of identities, though, that moving between the dotted lines, has worked in Gallery5's favor. Not entirely gallery or club or studio, it's becoming all of these things, in an impulsive way. Parker says he and Robinson keep the city's interests in mind. "It's important to be Richmond-centric," he says.



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