By Joe Garvey

Old Dominion University will be well represented as it again is a co-presenting sponsor of Norfolk's NEON Festival, which is scheduled for Oct. 20 and 21.

The seventh annual festival, also co-sponsored by the Arts Alliance, celebrates the NEON District's visual and performing arts community. Anchored by the Chrysler Museum of Art and Harrison Opera House and extending to The Plot on Granby Street, the district includes creative small businesses and arts partners that contribute to the festivities. Dozens of artists, makers and performers will stage exhibitions and performances throughout the district. The event is free and open to the public.

The ODU arts community will play prominent roles both nights.

Oct. 20:

  • "Pedigree," a short film by Brittney S. Harris, 5 to 8 p.m., Kaufman Theater in the Chrysler Museum of Art. Harris will share a personal activist art film every 20 to 30 minutes with a subsequent reflection on the film.
  • Virginia Arts Festival Rhythm Project, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., Chrysler Museum of Art. Supported by ODU's Hixon Community Engagement Fund, Virginia Arts Festival's Rhythm Project All-Stars perform for a free, outdoor show in Mary's Garden.

Oct. 21:

  • ODU Student Pottery Sale, 6 to 10 p.m., The Neon House, 819 Granby St. Professor Rick Nickel organized the annual NEON Festival pottery sale and exhibition with ODU ceramics students. Proceeds support the 757 Community Closet and 757 Community Fridges.
  • ODU Blacksmithing, 6 to 10 p.m., Commune Norfolk Parking Lot, 759 Granby St. Every fall the ODU Art Department offers a blacksmithing class. Using charcoal forges, students learn how to tend fires and heat wrought iron or steel to soften them for the forging process. Students will show their skills in the Commune and Glass Wheel parking lot beer garden.
  • ODU Sculpture Exhibition, 6 to 10 p.m., The Neon House. Professor John Roth and ODU alumna Cheryl White curated a pop-up exhibition featuring ODU sculpture students Ryan Fremeau, Avery Keys, Kim McCoy, Kris Pitzer and Sarah Thompson.
  • Writers in Community Readings, 8 to 9 p.m., Hurrah Players' Hugh R. Copeland Center, 112 W. Wilson Ave. Poets, essayists and novelists from ODU's Master of Fine Arts program will read excerpts from their work.

Additionally, the Arts @ ODU Tent will be set up both nights: 5 to 9 p.m. Oct. 20 at the Chrysler Museum of Art and 6 to 10 p.m. Oct. 21 at The Plot, 776 Granby St.

For more info, go to A full schedule of festival events is available at this link.

Contributing sponsors for the NEON Festival are the Glass Light Hotel and Gallery, Rutter Mills Attorneys at Law, MacArthur Center, WPA Architects and Sway. The beverage sponsor is Smartmouth Brewing Co., and the producing partners are the Chrysler Museum of Art and Downtown Norfolk. Visit Norfolk is a friend sponsor.

Norfolk's first official arts district, NEON, is home to long-time cultural institutions like the Chrysler Museum of Art and Harrison Opera House as well as studio-based ventures like d'Art Center and the Rutter Family Art Foundation, all providing artists a place to make, create and show. Within a few blocks you can see a muralist at work, take in an improv comedy performance at Push Comedy Theater, watch a live glass-working demonstration, shop for unique home goods, get a tattoo or dine at an eclectic restaurant. Learn more at and follow along on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @neonnfk.

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