Art? No Foolin’

A spring blizzard of exhibits awaits art lovers at the April 1 First Friday Art Walk

Bets Cole’s watercolor ‘On the Plateau’ is at Karin Clarke at the Gordon

It’s been a long, dreary pandemic — especially for the arts world —  but following last month’s relaxation of masking rules for public spaces, the First Friday ArtWalk kicks into high gear on April 1.

 Nearly two dozen downtown venues, from formal art galleries to coffee shops, will be showing original work by artists who span the full range from raw beginners to accomplished professionals. The ArtWalk, which has taken place downtown for decades, is a great place to get acquainted with Eugene’s art scene, to see and discuss art works and to shop for great art bargains.

This month’s ArtWalk is sponsored by Eugene Symphony, which presents its family concert Peter and the Wolf on April 24. Kids at the ArtWalk will especially enjoy a Peter and the Wolf Scavenger Hunt, finding characters from the music at 5th Street Public Market.

Here are a few recommendations of art venues to check into on Friday:

ANTI-AESTHETIC, 245 W. 8th Avenue. Here’s your chance to pretend Eugene is a big city and enjoy full uptown, contemporary conceptual art straight from the artist. Eugene artist Noelle Herceg, an MFA student at the University of Oregon, is in residence at the gallery through April 3 as part of Eugene Contemporary Art’s Public Process program. Friday will be an open studio night with the artist on hand to help “demystify the process of contemporary art making and invite conversation.”

Here’s what Herceg, who works in printmaking and fiber art, says on her website: “Balancing play and planning, my work continues an active exploration of lost intimacy with the everyday. Returning again and again to processes of printmaking, sewing and image-making, my fear in memory loss shapes my desires to document, bind and capture ephemerality with empathy. I not only investigate, but aim to preserve and protect the mundane; collecting lost fragments which will indefinitely become lost again.”

ArtCity Studios on Broadway, in the basement at 160 E. Broadway. Lighten up and enjoy “Foolish Fish”  made by Eugene Printmakers in the form of linoleum and woodblock prints for April Fool’s Day. On that day in France, people make paper fish and stick it onto someone’s back when they are not looking. This might occasionally happen in Eugene as well. The fun starts at 5:30 pm and runs until 7.

Broadway Commerce Center, 44 W. Broadway, is showing work by multimedia artist Debra Mae Jacques in Tell The Universe Exactly What You Want. Jacques, whose work was included in the 2021 Eugene Mayor’s Art Show, uses techniques from monoprint to collage to create brightly colored images that explore themes of love, motherhood and community.

Karin Clarke at the Gordon, 590 Pearl Street, Suite 105. Eugene printmaker Heather Halpern will be showing new works in black and white drypoint and monotype in a series she’s titled Spiritual Growth, exploring themes of tenacity, recovery and growth. Halpern is well known in town as the founder of Whiteaker Printmakers; her moody prints have been shown throughout the U.S. and in Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia.

The New Zone Gallery, 110 E. 11th Avenue, is offering three shows during April. The nonprofit cooperative has been presenting non-juried shows for four decades to encourage an atmosphere of freedom and experimentation; it also has some of the best receptions in town, usually featuring live music. The Zone’s new shows are Between Heaven and Earth, paintings by Nancy Friedemann based on her study of Chinese calligraphy and painting; Weavings Gone Wild, featuring woven baskets, wall art, mats and wearable art by Sheri Smith; and The Collected NUDE, an assemblage of nude artwork from past New Zone exhibitions from 1991-2021, curated by Steve LaRiccia.

Lane Arts Council’s First Friday ArtWalk runs 5:30-8 pm Friday, April 1. Pick up an ArtWalk guide at 5th Street Public Market to enjoy the self-guided tour of downtown Eugene art spaces. Bring masks, as some venues may still require them. Free.