PHOTOPHILE- Mall turns 30: But no spirits lube art openings

As with every First Friday of the summer, gallery openings on July 7 coincided with fire-jugglers, random banjo-pickers, street theater, a Fridays After 5 concert, and zealots trying to sway public opinion.

But this time all of it was topped by anniversary events, as various musicians played at Central Place beneath a huge "30" sign to commerate the 30th anniversary of the opening of the Downtown Mall. And inside galleries such as Sage Moon, where patrons enjoyed a historic Charlottesville slideshow, no customary wine accompanied the cheese plates. No wine at an opening?

Downtown galleries and museums were put on notice last month that ABC agents would be enforcing laws that make serving open-house alcohol costly for non-profits– and nearly impossible for such events in for-profit venues.

Even before the crackdown, Sage Moon co-owner Morgan MacKenzie-Perkins had decided not to serve wine. She says it was not helping business anyway. 

"We make money from the people who buy art," she says, "and the people looking for free wine have a tendency to crowd them out."

Owners Laura and Rob Jones of the new gallery called Migration disagree. "We use First Friday to get publicity for our gallery, and anything that brings people into the galleries will help to bring art into their lives," says Laura Jones.

Many revelers may not have noticed the missing wine. Distracted as much by the glorious weather as by the sight of a traveling troupe representing the current political administration in prison chains, most people just kicked back and enjoyed a 30-year success story.  

Zatrel Farmer, age 4, with his balloon puppy dog from the Go Ye Project

Donald Rumsfeld wants to fight.

Sage Moon co-owner Morgan MacKenzie-Perkins

Gallery Migration owners Rob and Laura Jones

30 year anniversary sign