FORT LEE, Va. (Feb. 23, 2017) -- One of the largest artwork displays in central Virginia, along with live entertainment and a free buffet meal, are among the offerings of the Friday for the Arts celebrations every second Friday of the month, 6-9 p.m., in the heart of downtown Petersburg.

Friday for the Arts takes place at The Ward, Center for Contemporary Art, 132 Sycamore St. It has been a Petersburg tradition for the past 14 years.

Owners Isaac and Noelle Ward did a complete renovation of the 100,000-square-foot complex in 2014. Located in the old Butterworth’s building, The Ward has 26,000 square feet of space allocated to the Center for Contemporary Art. The “mixed use” property also has 45 residential apartments, 53 artist studios, eight art galleries, and a commercial storefront.

The artist studio rooms are often rented by small businesses and creative individuals who want to showcase their craft items or artwork. The main art gallery can accommodate weddings, parties and meetings.

“Our vision all along was to give the city and the community an art showcase and art walk,” said Noelle Ward. “This is where people can relax while browsing the main gallery and visiting some of the smaller businesses in the artist studios during an art gala evening. I think it’s a unique experience whether you want to see the artwork, hear the music or enjoy the spirit of our community.”

New discoveries are common at Friday for the Arts with different displays and artisans featured from month-to-month. The excitement is also kicked up a notch by the wide-ranging audience.

“We get people from Maryland, North Carolina and throughout the Northeast,” Ward said. “They come here to view the artwork and purchase the one-of-a-kind items, which run the gammut from paintings and jewelry to cutting boards and hair bows. People are always looking for unique, handmade art.

“One evening, we had someone from Jamaica who made jewelry on-site and showed everyone how to make it,” Ward continued. “There also was a night recently when we (participants) made holiday ornaments.”

The opportunity to meet and talk to the individual who created a work of art is something many Friday for the Arts particpants particularly enjoy, according to Ward. The event allows artists to have an open platform to showcase their work.

“It is pretty exciting to meet the local artists who are attending,” Ward said.

To start off or complete a Friday for the Arts evening, consider visiting one of the surrounding restaurants and bars. Establishments within walking distance of The Ward include Longstreet, Bucket Trade, The Brickhouse Run, Wabi Zabi, Croaker’s Spot, Dixie, Alexander’s, Saucy’s Barbeque, Maria’s Old Town 21 and others.

To find out more about The Ward, visit www.thewardcenter.com or call (804) 252-9233. To see more on Petersburg, visit www.petersburgva.gov.