the first Friday of every month all the art galleries in Center City Philadelphia remain open late, from 5 to 8:30 pm. Galleries are sometimes problematic to get into, having irregular hours or even being 'By Appointment Only', so First Friday, as it has come to be called in the decade or so the galleries have been doing it, is an nice opportunity for the casual art fan to ramble the galleries and see what's new in the art world. The
restaurateurs like it too, because folks drawn to the galleries tend to wind up at local restaurants later in the evening.
Taylor and I did a gallery crawl on First Friday last week, on January 4. I had known of First Friday for a while, but had never made it into Center City to actually do it. Most of the galleries are located in an area about two or three blocks in circumference, near the intersections of Arch St. and 2nd and 3rd Streets, most along the latter two streets. It's possible to visit twenty galleries in the course of a few hours.
The crowd was an interesting mix of blue jeans and mink coats, young arty type people, probably local to the area, and Main Line types who were probably potential buyers of the product. Every gallery had a little table of Cheetos and pretzels. One had rather good focaccia too, but Cheetos and pretzels were omnipresent. Taylor, who came straight from work and hadn't eaten, hit the Cheetos hard.
I wish I had thought to bring my camera. I scanned a couple of postcards I picked up at two galleries, but they really don't do the variety of art justice.
The artist who made the picture below, Bryan Willette, had a whole gallery full of similar paintings sized about 8 x 20 inches, each in its own little gothic-styled wooden enclosure, each depicting a ritual in an imaginary religion, to which I'm very glad I don't belong. This picture is milder than the rest of the artist's work. The rituals depicted were always bizarre, often bloody or sexual or both, and felt like a nightmare version of Roman Catholicism, mixed perhaps with some of The Golden Bough, Hieronymus Bosch and a lot of Clive Barker (the Hellraiser movies, Imagica, etc.). Imagine a twilight ceremony where hooded priestesses stuff a flayed human skin with white roses, and you'll get a flavor of the work. Deliciously evocative and creepy. Alas, the artist is only a mediocre draughtsman, and his imagination is far greater than his skill to depict it. The artist's site is here.
The picture below by Marcie Feldman is quite different. This artist seems to work mainly in ink pen and watercolor washes of brilliant color, oranges and purples predominating. Her work is fanciful and entertaining, and quite reasonably priced. My only complaint about her is that her work sort of resembles 'illustration', a term of abuse among art critics. Nonetheless, it's whimsical and charming, and I seriously thought about buying one or more of her pieces.
There were dozens of other galleries, scores of artists, and hundreds of other paintings and sculpture. I really enjoyed the outing, and I recommend First Friday to anyone in the Philadelphia area.
ooame == heavy rain
uten == rainy weather