The Association for Visual Arts: A Chattanooga Nonprofit

Chattanooga’s Association for Visual Arts, or AVA for short, is a nonprofit based in North Shore on Frazier Avenue with the goal of connecting the community to visual art and artists. Why does this nonprofit matter? AVA matters because it provides local artists with opportunities for exposure; it also encourages an appreciation for creativity in Chattanooga residents. One of AVA’s largest operations is the annual 4 Bridges Art Festival (4BAF), but they also organize events with partner galleries, run an Art Loan program, rent an applied media studio, run two exhibit galleries, and offer benefits to community members and artists through an AVA membership.

Each fall, AVA partners with art galleries and studios around Chattanooga to host the Gallery Hop, an event where visitors tour many of the creative hot spots in Chattanooga. Each spring they host the 4 Bridges Art Festival, a juried show featuring artists from across the country and offering monetary awards to winning artists. The 2017 4BAF featured local food and drink vendors, crafts for kids, live music, and over one-hundred and fifty artists. This year’s festival will be just as exciting.

AVA owns a photography and videography studio area, along with camera and lighting equipment that anyone can rent. Additionally, AVA runs an Art Loan program that helps artists gain exposure by filling local businesses with artwork. Artists with an AVA membership can submit art to go on loan at businesses, usually for six months at a time. This not only brightens dreary office walls, but it also makes a connection between artists and businesses, possibly leading to purchases later on.

AVA’s two exhibits are their Main Gallery and the Landis Student Gallery, both located on Frazier Avenue. The larger Main Gallery features work from established and emerging artists, while the Landis Gallery is an opportunity for students to display their art. Works surrounding a particular theme are curated on a monthly basis, which means AVA often sends out artist calls to their members. The Main Gallery is currently displaying the “Annual Black History Exhibit: The Modern Day Paris Exposition” until February 23. This curation is a modern take on W.E.B. Du Bois’ travels to Paris in 1900 to raise awareness about conditions for blacks in America by displaying diagrams, photos, and charts with artistic colors and visuals. In conjunction with this exhibit, the Landis Gallery is showing a video presentation titled, “The Divine.”

AVA offers a membership that is especially helpful for local artists. Benefits of being a member include free access to AVA’s applied media studio and equipment, a ten percent discount on works displayed in the two galleries, and discounts at local art supply stores, the Bluff View Art District restaurants, and the River Gallery. Benefits also include access to art workshops like the current “Business of Art” workshop designed to help artists with the business side of creativity, invitations to mixers intended to help artists network, the opportunity to be featured on AVA’s Artist Directory and to have your work in the Art Loan program, and information on frequent artist calls. The membership is $15 for students, $50 for artists, and $75+ for supporters of AVA.

Organizations like the Association for Visual Arts help boost Chattanooga’s creativity as local artists tell the city’s story. Through events and artist calls, AVA provides the perfect opportunity for artists to send their work out into the world. With two free galleries showcasing ever-changing art, AVA encourages art appreciation in Chattanooga.