Philadelphia’s Old City glistened in the hubbub of nighttime art-gallery strollers with the “First Friday” exhibit Nov. 2.
Philadelphia’s Old City Arts Association and other member organizations arranged the monthly event. It is held throughout the year on the first Friday of each month, giving artists an opportunity to display and market their work as observers casually peruse exhibitions.
Art observers had a variety of visual opportunities last Friday, such as the dramatically colored, nature-inspired works of Deborah Durban, and abstract photography by five artists at Larry Becker Contemporary Art.
Temple’s N. Second Street art gallery contributed to the evening with a collection of prints titled “Saints and Sinners, Observations on the Sacred and Profane.” Twenty-five contemporary artists were featured in the show, including Dean of the Tyler School of Art Rochelle Toner.
Kevin Melchionne, director of exhibitions for Tyler, said that “First Friday” is a functional module of local art culture because it runs on a schedule that’s easy to remember, and no advertising is necessary. He also commented that Philadelphia is “blessed for its many grass-roots art institutions,” and that the purpose of art is to “create experiences for people.”
Students of both Tyler and main campuses often frequent Temple’s gallery. Sophomore BTMM major Rory Eddy, who attended the Nov. 2 exhibit, said he was particularly drawn to a piece titled “Rumble,” by Sergio Suave. The work showed men in dated clothing fighting around a royal figure as planes flew overhead.
“It makes me upset,” he said. “It reminds me that wars are like children’s games with guns in the park, and that conflict can exist anywhere over trivial things.”
Visual art was not the only aesthetic attraction of “First Friday.” Spiraling lights were illuminated on a large brick wall on Second and Race streets, as a man in a black mask and tuxedo jacket hoisted a woman onto his shoulders as part of a choreographed dance. As musicians played on in the background, he would occasionally leap from his dance area to pose atop a fire hydrant or stone pillar.
The dancer, Cypher Zero, said that his motivation in performing at “First Friday” was to show the public the “active creative process and not just the end result.”
His fellow dancer, Karen Gross, said “I love performance, and live art is so vital. I love being able to create it.” She said that “First Friday” strikes her as “very European, with everyone out and enjoying things in common.”
A few musicians also lined the streets, bearing instruments and displaying baskets for money-collection. Charles Townsend, who played slow music on his white violin, said that he’s “glad to have educated some nightclub kids” with his performances of classical music.
“‘First Friday’ encourages people to come down to center city, to an urban environment, where you can see so much of the artists’ work,” said senior Painting major Hillary Tarner.
Amy Jennifer Reed can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org