AFAS Center for Arts Hosts Grand Opening Celebration May 6 in Winston-Salem
One of the driving forces behind the Winston-Salem arts renaissance will be celebrating both a grand opening and a milestone on Saturday, May 6 in and around their new location at 630 N. Liberty Street.
The AFAS Group, better known as Art for Art’s Sake, will be welcoming everyone down to their new AFAS Center for the Arts and adjoining park that day, beginning at 11 am. The event will be held in conjunction with the 10th anniversary of the organization’s founding.
Sherry Rose, AFAS Co-founder and Youth Arts & Education Program Director, said that while the official ribbon-cutting ceremony (with Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines) is scheduled for 2 pm, there would be a whole host of activities and entertainments available starting earlier in the day.
“We’ll be having a huge celebration in the park (beside the building on its Liberty Street side) with everything from food trucks to live music, body painting and interactive artists,” Rose said. “We will also be starting our third annual Concrete Canvas Mural Project.”
The Concrete Canvas Mural takes 11 mural spaces around downtown and gives local artists the chance to create public pieces of art that are on display for the entire year. At the end of the year, the murals are primered over and new ones created. At the celebration event, the artists will begin early in the morning so you can see how the process begins.
“By doing the new murals, it keeps it fresh and gives an opportunity for emerging artists to get their names out there,” Rose explained. “I have so much respect for these artists because they are just brilliant. Each piece is different and each tells a story that is unique and authentic. And that gives something special to the park itself.”
The event will also feature an Art Jam Saturday event in the park, a special opportunity for local youths to have hands on art activities and education. On that day, the AFAS Group Youth Arts Education Program will be working with children to create their own mural. Throughout the rest of the year, the Art Jam Saturdays will be held on the first and third Saturdays of each month from 12:30 to 3 pm, there, free of charge and with art supplies provided.
As a fundraiser at the grand opening ceremonies, Rose said, people will be able to buy padlocks to paint and decorate, which will then be hung on the entrance to the park on Sixth Street. Locks like those have been clipped onto bridge fencing in places like Paris and London as markers for love or as memorials.
The official ribbon-cutting with AFAS and Mayor Joines will begin at 2 pm and tours of the facility will begin thereafter. And there’s an awful lot of stuff to see inside the building.
The first of the three floors, Rose said, will be the new home of the Red Dog Art Gallery, a mainstay of the downtown art scene. The back half of the first floor will also be home to the new gallery of local jeweler and bead artist extraordinaire Julie Knabb.
The second floor will host the Unleashed Arts Center’s new home, along with ten private artist’s studios. Rose said the studios would range from 100 to 200 square feet and would be rented out to local artists (with AFAS group members getting the first chances to rent). Rents on the spaces will run from $270 to $500 a month depending on size and amenities.
The third floor will have space for the AFAS Group board room with the remaining space being available for business rental. Overall, the building offers approximately 14,500 sq. feet of working and display space.
Construction, design and opening of the new facility has taken about a year, Rose said. The park and building were gifted to AFAS by the Thomas J. Regan Jr. Foundation, with an estimated value of $5 million for the building and another $3 million for the park.
“Everything we do, every dream we have had, it all comes back to our mission to build, educate and celebrate our community through art,” Rose said. “We will always operate that way. Our plans are to continue to grow in our reach to artists, youths and adults.
“People we have worked with come back and mentor, they are a huge part of the process for us,” she continued. “Since our founding in 2007 so many brilliant artists have worked with us. A lot of them had not been connected to the resources before that would help them turn their art into a way of making a living. We’ve helped make it a reality for them, though. We teach everything from basic business to marketing to help them and they get to collaborate with other experienced professional artists.”
Wanna Go? – The AFAS Center for the Arts is located at 630 N. Liberty Street in Winston-Salem. The celebration begins in the park next door at 11 am. The event is free to the public.