I went to the First Friday art walk this past Friday. It is always such an interesting phenomenon that leaves me curious. To be honest, I have not been to a First Friday in ages and could not remember why not. What could be more fun than milling around the Sante Fe Art District seeing the art work of my home town, where the studios stay open later, serve alcohol and have munchies out on the tables?
So a friend of mine went with me to First Friday. I am rarely graced with parking karma, and certainly was not on Friday night either. We went decently early, and yet we had to park quite a few blocks away, which, okay, I get it. Parking is rough. When we finally got to the first art gallery, we went in and started looking around. There were some really great pieces there. Interesting perspectives and interpretations of life. Classically, there were the college students with notebooks and pens, gathered around a few distinct pieces discussing why that piece worked. It was quaint and I smiled wondering if that was what I looked like back in my college days. We meandered around this gallery, silently absorbing the power of art, in this first gallery and getting excited about the art we would see/experience the rest of the night. (A little bit of excitement was dashed, I must admit, when a women with her dog in tow, loudly exclaimed to a man across the room that she was leaving and would catch up to him later.)
When we were ready, we left and proceeded onto the next gallery. And here is where I will stop my storing telling with minutia and begin with my overall impressions of the art walk. It took us forever to make it to the next gallery. We were at a dead stop for an impressive amount of time as the crowd continued to enmesh outside and around the door as a couple of apparently long lost friends stopped, mid-door way, to make their hellos. And as the crowd filled in around me, and I slowly started to feel like I was in a Megadeth pit instead of at a First Friday Art Walk, I took a look around. I began to wonder if the people around me actually wore those clothes on a regular basis or pulled them out of the depths of the closet specifically for this event. (Personally, I was in the clothes I wore to work). Is First Friday popular b/c people are truly interested in the art, or is it popular b/c it is trendy and artsy and in this confusing world we live in where our newest generations have no distinct identity of their own, but rather are an amalgamation of the past, people flock to the art district. And so people flock to the art district to feel artsy, to express their own version of art in their attire. Is it a trendy place people go to feel artistic? And I say flock, but I certainly did not feel I had the grace of a bird in flight. It was more akin to a herd of cows.
People always talk about First Friday and it it seems sacrilegious for an artist to not go to the Sante Fe district on this appointed day. As an artist, people always assume that I regularly attend First Friday b/c it is A) First Friday B) Networking C) Trendy? but I can not honestly say I go on a regular basis. I am reminded of the crowds and the feeling that I should be at home working on my art. I do understand the notion that one should network and get out and view others work to get a fresh perspective. Additionally, as I am trying to be an emerging artist, it can be about who you know, not how good your art is. (Though in this age of technology, when you can market your art to the world and not just a district, I am becoming a bit dubious.) On occasion you can talk to the artist, but they want to sell you their work, so it is not really a networking event. The studios cost about $500 a month to rent space and get your artwork shown, so talking to someone will not get you an in if you do not have the money, and really, there are so many people around, that a conversation is sometimes hardly plausible. I really want to like First Friday, and I will gladly admit, sometimes I do have fun (this time, my friend and I went in to maybe 5 galleries before throwing in the towel and walking the marathon back to our car.)
I could be being a pessimist who is not fond of crowds and wanted to be home making my art so maybe one day I can have something hanging instead of looking at others work, but I am not convinced that people actually look at the art in the galleries anyway. And I mean really look at it. It seems more like it has turned into a block party that has art galleries on the same street instead of a time to consider what the artists of Denver have to say.
I am very willing to be wrong and be called a jaded artist. Thoughts?