Announcing First Friday Exhibitions: A Curated Series From NOT REAL ART cover

Announcing First Friday Exhibitions: A Curated Series From NOT REAL ART

This year we at NOT REAL ART are launching First Friday Exhibitions, an all-new exhibition series designed to inspire readers with the artwork and artists we love. Each month beginning in February 2023, a curated exhibition will appear on the NOT REAL ART homepage, accompanied by an exhibition guide from the curator. A new show will open on the first Friday of every month.

These First Friday Exhibitions feature carefully selected works from leading lights in the creative industry. Kicking off the slate of shows, February’s exhibition honors the 2022 NOT REAL ART grant winners. Juried by art consultants Melissa Richardson Banks and Badir McCleary, art dealer Chris Davies, muralist Erin Yoshi, gallerist Karla Funderburk, graffiti artist Man One, arts writer and NOT REAL ART Editor-in-Chief Morgan Laurens, grant writer MonaLisa Whitaker, intellectual property attorney Joshua Wattles, and fabricator Julie B, our annual grant is designed to empower six contemporary artists that match our core values of community, connection, and innovation. Founded in 2019, the NOT REAL ART grant awards a total of $12,000 annually, with $2,000 allocated to each artist for open-ended use.

Our first exhibition of the year features work from our 2022 grant winners. Mark your calendars for the exhibition's launch date on Friday, February 3, 2023, then scroll down for a sneak peek of our year-long First Friday Exhibitions schedule, curated by NOT REAL ART Editor-in-Chief Morgan Laurens and writer/former NY gallerist Kirsten Bengtson-Lykoudis.

February 3: NOT REAL ART 2022 Grant Winners

We’re thrilled to welcome our six grant winners into the NOT REAL ART community with the inaugural First Friday exhibition. The show includes work from figurative painters Joan Cox and Kiley Ames, quilting artist Jo-Ann Morgan, sculptor Ellamaria Foley-Ray, mixed-media artist Buena Johnson, and digital photographer Y Hope Osborn.

View the exhibition here.

March 3: Women in Love

Penned by novelist DH Lawrence in the midst of WWI, Women in Love traces the lives of two women who yearn for romance in an increasingly violent and destructive world. We can relate. In honor of International Women’s Month, March’s exhibition explores the many ways women express love in the modern world.

View the exhibition here.

April 7: Art and the Environment

Working with found objects, recycled materials, billboards, and installations, the artists in this exhibition address the fraught relationship between a consumer society and a wilderness under siege. From paintings of oil spills and wildfires to assemblages made from household detritus, their provocative, nature-centric work explores the devastating effects of climate change on the world around us.

View the exhibition here.

May 5: Sugar Rush

Break out your blankets and uncork the bubbly; it’s time for a sugary picnic just as the weather warms. Stuffed with sticky treats, gooey morsels, and mouth-watering delicacies, this exhibition tackles the communal aspects of food and eating. After years of pandemic-related isolation, we’re ready to pass the plate around the table, share experiences with friends and family, and indulge ourselves with a sweet treat.

View the exhibition here.

June 2: Robots, Rockets, and Space

Blast off this summer with our June exhibition, which features a selection of sci-fi inspired work. These works will catapult you into the cosmos and inspire a sense of wonder at the complexity of the universe.

View the exhibition here.

July 7: Ancestral Landscapes: Investigating Heritage and Home

What does it mean to come from somewhere? In an era of displacement, mobility, and cultural diaspora, visual storytellers from around the globe give their take on the forces that shaped who they are today. Images of countries left behind, depictions of a beloved family home, photographs of war zones, and digitally altered maps take viewers on a vivid journey through time and place.

View the exhibition here.

August 4: Art and Tech

In the 21st century, art and tech became strange but welcome bedfellows. Our August exhibition is an ode to experimental video and animation, altered and augmented realities, new media, artificial intelligence, and web-based art.

View the exhibition here.

September 1: Architecture, Interiors, and Urban Landscapes

Our September exhibition explores the structures we inhabit and the subliminal results of living in cramped apartments, sprawling cities, and suburban households. Dynamic and innovative, these depictions of constructed environments cover a wide range of issues: social, environmental, political, and personal.

View the exhibition here.

October 6: Aftereffects

The artists in this exhibition use physical, emotional, and psychological challenges as a platform to create arresting multimedia work. Exploring the effects of ADHD, visual impairment, trauma, depression, disorders, and addiction, they transform personal experience into conceptually based paintings, sculptures, videos, and installations.

View the exhibition here.

November 3: Down a Long, Dark Corridor

On the heels of Halloween, we’re debuting a selection of dark art to inspire your most macabre fantasies. Don’t get too depressed, though. We’ll be back in December with lighter fare.

December 10: From the Mixed-Up Files of NOT REAL ART

The last show of the year is a celebration of our very favorite art from 2023. A curated collection of staff picks, this exhibition gives us an opportunity to look back on the year and honor the artists and artwork that filled our hearts with joy. We hope they do the same for you.

Morgan  Laurens 

Morgan Laurens (she/her/hers) is NOT REAL ART’s editor in chief. Morgan is an arts writer from the Midwest who enjoys saying “excuse me” when no actual pardon is needed. She specializes in grant writing and narrative-based storytelling for mission-driven artists and arts organizations. With a background in printmaking, pop culture, and classic literature, Morgan believes a girl’s best friend is the pile of books on her bedside table.