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March First Friday

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On the first Friday of every month, galleries around Third Street in Philadelphia open up for free and feature special exhibits. “First Friday” is a public event that takes places in various cities around the United States on the first Friday of each month, bringing artists together around the country. First Friday started in Philadelphia in 1991 as an effort to host a collaborative open house in Old City and has now expanded to several bars, restaurants, and vintage stores.There is always something new to look at as you hop between galleries, the only common theme between the galleries being that they are all free and in Old City. Most of the events for the night happen along Third Street, making it easy to wander from gallery to gallery.

I started my night  with a small gallery featuring several paintings that were made to look as if they were stained glass. The artist, Rae Chichilnisky, used a relief outliner, similar to puffy paint,  to outline objects in her paintings. The relief outliner, which added an extra dimension to the painting as it popped off the canvas, made the paintings resemble stained glass.

The Center for Art in Wood was our next destination. The gallery was participating in “Small Favors: Think Inside the Box,” a series with The Clay Studio. The gallery featured a plethora of impressive pieces ranging from things as practical as an ice cream scooper to a wooden sculpture that resembled a tornado. Hanging above the opening to the main gallery space was a sculpture of a life size meteor that was illuminated from within. Attached to the meteor was a swarm of butterflies with wings made of laser cut wood.

The gallery was filled with people of all ages wandering around and commenting on the pieces. I was impressed at every turn and appreciated the volunteers that pointed out small but extraordinary details about each piece. One volunteer brought our attention to a wooden blanket that was made of delicately made wooden triangles glued to a silk screen. She sharedour awe and appreciation for the time and skill that went into the displayed piece.

The Third Street Gallery continually participates in First Friday. This Friday they featured ink drawings from Matthew Hall. “Fabricating Nostalgia,” the exhibit in the gallery, featured beautifully drawn scenes that demonstrated the complexity of everyday moments. He also shared the gallery with a photographer, Keith Sharp, who featured a collection of photos of scenes around Media, PA.

The Jessica Eldrige Studio was one of many participants in “First Friday”and presented a unique twist on how guests interacted with the exhibit. The gallery invited guests to bring any object that could fit into a zip-close bag. Then when guests arrived at the gallery, they could trade their item for one of the small pieces produced by the artist, Aly Giantisco.

In addition to the various galleries that were open, the night also featured a free concert at the Christ Church Neighborhood House. The Poor Richard’s Chamber Music Society played renditions of Bartok, Meyer, and Brahms’ to add to the First Friday festivities.

In addition to wandering through galleries and listening to music, there are several restaurants that participated in First Friday. Baril, a French restaurant known for their seafood, features their incredible traditional soup plate with a live performance by the jazz band, Drew Nugent and the Midnight Society. If you’re still thirsty and/or looking for First Friday specials, Olde Bar is the place to end your night. For First Friday, they featured a cocktail special called For Whom the Bell tolls.

The next First Friday will happen on April 7th and the list of events, participating galleries, restaurants and stores will be available online through visitphilly.com’s First Friday section. As the weather warms up the amount of participants will only increase, so it will become more exciting and fun.

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