Special/Signature Issues » The Arts 25

The Little Subculture That Could

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Amanda Robinson, director of the firehouse firebrand Gallery5, is pretty tired of hearing the term "subculture." Because she's seen everyone at the gallery's shows, from Bluetooth to blue-hairs.

Yet people still apply the term to both the gallery and its partner in creativity, RVA magazine, the elegant monthly art pub that's gone from merely recording events to putting them on. Perhaps it's because what they're doing is just so new to town.

Jeremy Parker (aka Parker) is the ubiquitous presence behind the magazine, and behind him is the guy who puts the elegance in it all, art man Tony Harris, the silent partner (so silent, he's not pictured).

If Robinson is tired of the subculture label, at least she should feel like it's a growing subculture. Because a wide range of audiences seem to enjoy resurrected 1920s carnivals and living painted nudes and the occasional Russian ambassador -- all Gallery5 offerings. People are also taking to large punk-music festivals and a New Year's Eve that feels like one — care of RVA. That inaugural, outdoor New Year's Eve party bringing in 2007 brought thousands of people to Carytown's streets to hear music and watch a lighted ball rise on top of the Byrd Theatre.

Gallery5 is changing not only art, but also the way people experience it. Who wants a quiet wall when you can get a freak in a cage? RVA, meanwhile, has become the promoter of the culture that it reports. This year, we can look forward to a big punk show on the quiet Canal Walk, Fist City Fury, Sept. 29, and another New Year's of epic proportions.Gallery5's next turn is to education. Robinson wants to start classes for at-risk youth on music, dance and art. "My big thing is I want people to get involved," Robinson says.

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