As this Friday is the first Friday of the month, there will be several galleries having opening receptions for this month's featured artists.

What follows are a few highlights from the First Friday Art Walk. Unless otherwise noted, all receptions are free and open to the public and take place from 5-8 p.m.

Anglin Smith Fine Art

Well-known artist Betty Anglin Smith will be showing a new collection of vibrantly colored paintings called "Art, Land and Sea," pieces inspired by her home here in the Lowcountry.

" 'Air, Land and Sea' are the basic elements that provide the environment that sustains our life on Earth," says Smith. "Without any one of these elements, life would not exist as we know it."

In addition to admiring the elements, it's obvious that she's also passionate about protecting and preserving the environment.

"As citizens of this Earth, it is our sacred duty to protect and preserve this environment, both for us and for our future generations. My commitment as a landscape artist is to put color to canvas to express and interpret the beauty and value of our air, land and sea. Not only are these elements our lifeblood, they are the substance of nature that inspires and awes us in all their unique power and beauty."

The artist will be present at the reception Friday evening at Anglin Smith Fine Art, 9 Queen St. The show will be on display through April 18.

853-0708 or www.anglinsmith.com

Helena Fox Fine Art

Join painter Mary Erickson for her solo show of works at Helena Fox Fine Art titled "Mary Erickson and Her Feathered Friends: New Works" on Friday evening.

Erickson spends a great deal of time observing and painting beautiful birds in their native, natural habitat.

Leading up to this show on Friday, she'll be all over the Charleston area painting en plein air some of our own local feathered friends.

"Mary's day begins before sunrise and ends after the last sunset painting," says gallery director Colleen Deihl.

Erickson herself says, "The love of the outdoors has always been a part of my life. I remember as a child fishing with my mom on opening day in the spring in Connecticut, the river gliding by and the sounds of red-winged blackbirds. As I get older, I appreciate more than ever the beauty that surrounds us."

Meet the artist in person at the opening reception Friday at Helena Fox Fine Art, 106-A Church St. Her works will be up through April 26.

723-0073 or www.helenafoxfineart.com

Artist Guild

Every month, the Charleston Artist Guild Gallery chooses one of its artists to be featured, and this month they will be showcasing photographer David Scheffler.

Specializing in colorful, interesting streetscapes (both natural and man-made), Scheffler's newest exhibit is called "Color It Charleston."

"There seems to be a never-ending stream of subjects," he says. "I find myself making mental notes of photo opportunities while driving, biking or walking so I can then return to the scene to get the ideal shot."

Stop by for the reception Friday or any time throughout the month of April at the Charleston Artist Guild Gallery, 160 East Bay St.

722-2425 or www.charlestonartistguild.com

Dual exhibits at Gibbes

The Gibbes Museum of Art is holding two concurrent exhibits of contemporary art.

The first exhibit is "John Westmark: Narratives."

Winner of the 2012 Factor Prize for Southern Art, Westmark's large-scale paintings explore the figure with a mixture of text and paper sewing patterns collaged on canvas.

"Westmark's paintings depict strong, courageous women, some portrayed as stoic martyrs and others as warriors engaged in conflicts of rebellion. The 'Narratives' exhibition features a series of new work created specifically for the Gibbes installation," says Amy Mercer, marketing and communications manager for the museum.

Westmark himself says, "As a product of the American South, and its rich tradition of storytelling as a vehicle to impart a moral lesson or social enlightenment, I am interested in the role of stories and folklore in modern life. This work references stories from a broad spectrum of humanity, and translates them into a visual narrative structure guided by the schematics of the store-bought sewing pattern. Domestic garment making is often looked upon as an intimate affair passed from one generation to the next, but once the pattern is used, it is tucked away or discarded. These paintings repurpose the garment pattern and its nostalgic aura into a storytelling template."

The other exhibit taking place is a collection of some of the museum's photography-based collection, curated together as "Beyond the Darkroom: Photography in the 21st Century."

"Since the invention of photography in 1839, the medium has constantly evolved with the development of new technologies. In the 21st century, photographic processes have shifted from the darkroom to the digital world, bringing new possibilities to the medium," says Mercer.

There are a variety of tours and special events surrounding the dual exhibits, such as the tour led by Westmark himself at 2:30 p.m. Friday and the April 24 tour of the photography exhibit led by Gibbes' curator Pam Wall, also at 2:30 p.m.

For more information, go to gibbesmuseum.org/events or call 722-2706, ext. 21. The Gibbes is at 135 Meeting St.

Photo exhibitions

Join the city of North Charleston's Cultural Arts Department as its hosts two photography exhibitions this month.

There will be a show of images by photographer Susana Berdecio as well as a show of photographs by the Jazz Artists of Charleston resident photographers. The exhibits will be up through April 30 at the North Charleston City Gallery. There will be an opening reception 5-7 p.m. Thursday.

Berdecio's collection of photos is called "Discovering a Sense of Place" and is about how she had to adapt some of her techniques and approaches when she moved to the Lowcountry several years ago.

The Lowcountry landscape was "dense, lush, and full of seemingly chaotic forms," quite different from her time in Mexico and in the western part of the U.S.

"The light is spectacular, sometimes so bright that color is muted," says the artist, referring to Charleston. "The creeks, the marshes, the ocean, the clouds all offer an exquisite variety of light, tone, color and texture."

To see more of her work online, go to www.susanaberdecio.com.

The "See Jazz: Jazz Artists of Charleston Visual Exhibition" is quite different in subject matter and focuses on the music makers of the Jazz Artists of Charleston and the Charleston Jazz Orchestra. But it's the photographers who are receiving the credit here as they are the ones that have captured these magical moments over the years.

Expect to see works by Alice Keeney, Pricilla Thomas, Ben Williams and Reese Moore.

City of North Charleston arts coordinator Ann Simmons tells us, "in the words of the late Jack McCray, one of JAC's founding board members and an icon in the Charleston jazz scene, the exhibit invites viewers to 'listen with their eyes' and 'think and feel beyond the category.' "

For more information, contact the city of North Charleston at 740-5854 or go to www.northcharleston.org.