Friday, July 03, 2009

Our First First Friday

Finally, after almost 3 years of living in Raleigh we got around to going to the First Friday. First Friday is a gallery walk in the downtown Raleigh that happens on the first Friday (doh!) of every month. The galleries stay open late and so do restaurants, cafes and some stores (and many offer special discounts just for this event).

I don't know what took us so long. Just one thing after another. But today Chris had a day off and we finished with all the errands early. So we had two choices - to stay couped up in the house or to get out. We chose to get out. Conveniently, I had the First Friday brochure on my bulletin board (it's been there for the last 6 months).

We promised Mark a ride on a bus (something totally new to him) and he agreed not to put up a fight and join us. We parked the car at the Seaboard Station (another place we have yet to check out) and boarded the Downtown Circulator bus. This bus is super-cool in its own way - it's hybrid, air-conditioned, and is absolutely free to ride.

So we rode the circulator around much of the downtown and got off at the Moore Square stop. Of 22 downtown galleries that participate in First Friday, we decided to go to just one - the Artspace. Artspace is not really a gallery. It's a arts center that houses studios of several artists and hosts events and art classes.

We were a bit worried about how Mark was going to behave since it was getting late and he was getting tired and cranky. Not to worry - there was live jazz music! And what do you know, there were not one, but TWO drummers. Needless to say, Mark spent the next hour or so practically glued to the place alternating between sitting on the steps and standing in front of the drum sets.

Which was perfect because Chris and I were able to take turns walking around the studios and admiring the artwork. Now, I don't know about Chris, but I don't have much experience with contemporary art. As someone who's been brought up on a diet of socialist realism with a sprinkling of classical art, I mostly don't "get it". So on rare occassions that I'm in NYC, I get to save $25 or so by skipping MoMA.

Sometimes I get ashamed of such ignorance on my part. But then I think that individual works of art are like people - there are lots of them and most are strangers that I barely acknowledge. But sometimes things happen - something catches my attention or peaks my curiosity - and I end up talking to a few of the strangers (and even making friends) or suddenly understanding and appreciating a particular work of art.

So it was absolutely wonderful that I've made not one, but two such discoveries at my very first First Friday. One was a clay Horsefly by Pat Scull - it kept me smiling even after I left Pat's studio.

And the second one (and I have to say my absolutely favorite discovery of the day) was a painting called "Red Doors" by Eric McRay (see the top of this post). I even got to talk to Eric - about this particular painting and about his other works which represent a variety of styles.

When I got back downstairs, Mark was still watching the drummer (Chris was watching Mark all this time). We spent a little bit more time listening to the smooth jazz and then it was way past Mark's bed time and we had to leave.