This Week in the Studio

We all stepped out of our creative comfort zones in the Visual Arts studio this week! The artists were asked to abandon their familiar styles and techniques to create self portraits. This was uncomfortable for most, due to the fear that 1.) it’s new, and 2.) it won’t be, “right.” And so began the process of letting go of control and opening to new possibilities.

The MRA mentors held a safe space in which to practice and receive feedback. It was an inspiring and productive week to say the least. Thank you to the Visual Arts Center for your generous contributions and to our wonderful artists and mentors!

Continue reading


Wrapping Up a Fantastic First Year!

Albert Costanzo, Untitled, 2015

Together, we have introduced an exciting, innovative opportunity to artists in Richmond!

Our summer started with splash at the inspirational, open-canvas provided by 1708 Gallery’s 10×10 Exhibition Series, and it was followed by six amazing days of pop-ups inside Glave Kocen Gallery, seven days of workshops in the studios at Visual Arts Center of Richmond, and a grand four-day + one sparkly night finale at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

We are growing awareness for the tremendous need in our community for inclusive & integrated work environments.

We are creating new art, and even more importantly, we are creating new relationships & connections. We are inspired by spaces our art partners generously share with us. These beautiful spaces give Milk River artists the chance to see new work, create new work, and experiment with new materials, colors, tools and ideas.

We have designed rich installations that have filled the gallery walls at 1708 in June and again at Glave Kocen in August. In November, we led the extraordinary InLight Parade at VMFA. We have an ongoing photography installation at Positive Vibe Cafe, and we work the bar every First Friday at Glave Kocen. These events help tell our story and allow us to exuberantly share our mission.

We are the happy recipients of overwhelming enthusiasm and interest from so many folks —visitors to our pop-ups, family members, caregivers, teachers & transition counselors, beloved Richmond artists & patrons of the arts, blog writers, journalists, videographers, students & professors, leaders in local government, commissioners in the arts, and dozens of passionate, caring individuals from organizations that support adults with special needs.

Milk River is a chance to showcase & celebrate the ways art profoundly enriches the lives of people of all abilities. Our heart-felt thanks to each person who came out and supported us this year.

Milk River Arts is just getting started.

Recap: Glave Kocen Gallery Pop-Up #1

By Sarah Parker

This past week’s Milk River Arts PoP-Up event at Glave Kocen Gallery was filled with new faces, new friendships, and some awe-inspiring new artwork. There was an exciting turnout of individuals interested in the program. The vast space at Glave Kocen gave opportunity for the attendees to experience what being an artist with Milk River Arts might be like. The nonprofit organization aims to extend opportunity to Richmond’s special needs community by providing a studio space where adults can come and work daily as a professional artist. Another goal of the program is  to eventually set up a designated gallery for the display and sale of their artist’s work.



With the objective of ultimately inhabiting a permanent address, events such as these simulate a working studio space for the future Milk River Arts professionals. They also allow for relationships to be built between staff members and the community for which the program is designed. Albert, a painter who has been to twenty job interviews in three years, traveled all the way from Alexandria, VA to spend the day creating elegant representational works with highly considered color schemes. Bukuru, an African refugee  and recent high school graduate, who has lost his limbs, was there to share his portfolio as well as create new pieces. He uses his mouth and shoulder to facilitate his painting process, producing works from life that showcase an exceptional understanding of shape and color. Another aspiring artist, Hannah, created a detailed graphite illustration inspired by her indisputable love for music.

Throughout the day attendants of the Pop-Up received artistic guidance and words of encouragement from Milk River Arts board members and staff artists. Sally Kemp, the founding Director, is very excited about the artworks beginning to accumulate from these day events. Each new location for the continuing Pop-Ups will have a designated exhibition area to showcase what the potential future artists of Milk River Arts have been making. Towards the end of this phase, a more longterm exhibition of the work will be curated and put on view. So far the program has seen much success. Their initiatives will continue to push forward as they prepare for their next event, which takes place again at Glave Kocen Gallery, this time for an entire week, August 17th-21st from 12-4pm each day.


Recap: The 10×10 Pop-Up Workshops

Milk River Arts had a successful week as part of 1708 Gallery‘s 10×10 summer program! Being able to inhabit such a beautiful gallery space in the downtown arts district inspired us tremendously. We are grateful to have met some incredible new artists and their families, while having lots of fun with our board members, advisors and allies. Next stop: Glave Kocen Gallery!

(Thanks to Michele Tecco for the great images!)

72dpi_MilkRiverArts_1708_PopUp_06.13.15_Tecco-27 Continue reading

Upcoming Summer Pop-Up Workshops

Our next Pop-Up Workshop events will take place in July and August at Glave Kocen Gallery, on Main Street. We’re excited to continue working with the artists we met at the 1708 Gallery 10×10 event, as well as all you new ones. So mark your calendar. And spread the word!

July @ Glave Kocen Gallery
1620 W Main Street 23220
Monday, July 13 + Tuesday, July 14 
12 – 4pm
August @ Glave Kocen Gallery  
1620 W Main Street 23220
Monday, August 17 – Friday, August 21 
12 – 4pm


Stay tuned for more Pop-Up Workshop dates at the Visual Arts Center of Richmond in September and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in October!


For additional information, please email Cheers!