The call for unity between artists of all ages has been vocalized. Its resonance is beginning at an old gallery hall on Callow Avenue.
The Artists for Freedom and Unity, a new non-profit visual and performing arts promoting union, is laying down its roots at 318 N. Callow Ave., in the space that used to house Metropolis the Gallery. The group is already branching out into the local arts community.
“For so long it was like, ‘Someone has to do something’ … so let’s just do it,” said AFU co-treasurer Megan Roscoe. “We’re all ready for it.”
The AFU Hall opened its doors Feb. 2. At 6 p.m. Feb. 23, the group will host its first event with heavy performances from local bands Vs. the World, The Sorrow and guests.
The official grand opening revelry is slated as an acoustic night March 3, followed by a pre-St. Patrick’s Day reggae show March 16 — for times and bands see the AFU’s myspace calendar at www.myspace.com/artistforfreedomandunity.
It all began last fall with a two-page Web site and a list of musicians and artisans, said AFU co-chairman Gabriel Lee.
“Its beginning was as a resource for (artists) to find venues and venues to find (artists),” he said.
That resource list has grown to almost 50 visual artists and musicians to date including the diversity one would expect from an organization with a name like the AFU.
From Port Orchard illustrator and cartoonist Pat Moriarity, and the abstract acrylic and mixed media work of Christine Wasankari, to Bremerton based hardcore metal band Half Halo, and world music and improv percussionist Chuck Smart, the AFU aims to unite artists in performing and visual arts for a common good.
“The more diverse we can keep the lineup, the more true we are to the name of what we are doing,” co-chairman Donald Rivers said. “We want everyone to feel like they belong from the minute they walk in the door to the minute they leave.”
The overriding goal of the organization is to give “all artists a chance to be seen and heard without undue bias,” by promoting through events and the marketing of local music and merchandise.
“We’re not about judging artists,” Lee said. “You bring your stuff in, and if there is a place, you can hang it.”
In addition to offering consignment sales for local musicians, the AFU Hall’s wall space is doled out at a monthly rental price per square feet. Artists are allowed to compile and design with whatever elements they desire — so long as it is not destructive to the AFU’s mission, Lee said.
To give local visual artists a feel for the AFU’s gallery, Lee is planning to fill one of the Hall’s rooms at no charge during March as an introductory gesture.
“Then we are thinking of doing rotating themed shows monthly,” Rivers added.
The first of those art shows has yet to be scheduled, however, it’s likely to be an item on the agenda of the AFU’s next regular meeting — at 6 p.m. March 6. Union members meet regularly on the first and third Tuesdays of the month at the AFU hall — the public is welcome. Also on the agenda will be plans to coordinate with other local all-ages and 21-and-older music venues for future events.