The free monthy event, held across several Old City blocks has something for artists and novice admirers alike.
This month’s First Friday has come and gone. But what did you do with your time? Did you go to your favorite coffee house? Maybe you went home for the weekend, or maybe you sat around your apartment watching TV all night.
Whatever you were doing with your time, if you didn’t spend Friday in Old City, frankly, you were probably wasting it.
If you were unaware – and believe me, it’s surprising how many are not aware – every first Friday of the month, Old City dedicates its streets solely to the arts for an event called First Friday.
From 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Old City’s art galleries open their doors to the public. Artists set up camp on the streets to display and sell their works, musicians perform live on almost every corner.
Oh, and did I mention that it’s totally free to go to? That’s right – free live music, free gallery showings and free artsy fun.
First Fridays started in Philadelphia in 1991, when the Old City Arts Association organized a district-wide open house. The event proved to be a success, sparking a lasting trend. Today, First Fridays mark one of the largest cultural events in the city.
Amid the galleries and artists who set their stuff up along the streets, it’s difficult to ignore the music that becomes First Friday’s soundtrack – not to mention the delicious cuisine in Old City.
If you have money to spend and a date to treat with an awesome meal, from Spanish tapas to Chilean delicacies, Old City during First Friday is the way to go. Plus, Old City theaters and restaurants often offer specials for those who attend the cultural event.
It’s a great time to rediscover your artistic passions, and at First Fridays, artists are often able to network with art students. The artists and vendors on the streets are friendly and usually love to talk about their projects.
It’s a great way to make connections with other talented painters, jewelry makers, designers and the like. Older students can offer advice on certain mediums, and graduate students can talk to you about possibly furthering your artistic endeavors.
But, for this cultural experience or fruitful networking to occur, you have to get out there and participate. And you’ve got to be willing to talk to a couple strangers. With First Friday’s casual, laid-back atmosphere, though, it shouldn’t be difficult to approach new people.
From artists to spectators, everyone who attends First Friday has one thing in common – love and appreciation for art and its promotion.
There’s a surplus of amazing, contemporary art in the city, and these galleries know who produces the best of the best. Most galleries are within the area bordered by Front Street to the east, Third Streets to the west, Vine Street to the north and Market Street to the south.
Some of the most impressive galleries are found on Second Street, such as Muse, the Artist’s House Gallery and Pentimenti Gallery. And the greatest thing about these places is that most are run by artists for artists.
All my First Friday experiences have been entertaining. Meeting new people who share an appreciation and enthusiasm for the arts is always a treat, and seeing so many passionate people in one place is extremely uplifting and inspirational to the struggling artist.
First Fridays serve as a reminder that neither the artist nor the spectator is alone and that there are many who support artists and help maintain creativity in our city’s culture.
Nicole Welk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.