By Omar Vasquez-Chavez
Once a month, local artists – including students – have the opportunity to display their artwork downtown as part of the Grand Rapids Avenue for the Arts “First Fridays” event.
From 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., the first Friday of every month, many local artists display their artwork at a variety of venues on South Division Avenue from Fulton Street to Wealthy Street.
“It’s totally free,” said Justin MacAuley, First Fridays Coordinator. “Families are welcome.”
First Fridays are events held on the first Friday of every month, except April, and artwork is displayed for the public to see. This is not limited to a specific area, as there are usually over 10 different venues used to display the art. Some venues included are Spiral, Cerasus Studio, Light Gallery and Sanctuary Folk Art. There are also many events and sales to accompany the First Fridays event.
“Each venue selects their own theme,” MacAuley said. The bigger venues, such as Spiral and Cerasus Studio, choose their own theme while smaller venues focus on the artists rather than a theme.
“When you show your art, it gives you such a creative boost,” MacAuley said.
Students at Grand Rapids Community College can get involved with Avenue for the Arts and have the possibility to have their artwork displayed for future events. This is an opportunity for students to show their artwork to the public, and receive moral support to continue making art. They can also attend this event to get to know the community better.
“It’s a great way to meet people,” MacAuley said.
The event creates a greater sense of the community and attendees have the opportunity to meet new people. This can also allow college students to know more people in the community.
“When you’re in college, you usually only speak to people who are in college,” MacAuley said.
Not only can students go out and see unique artwork from people in their community, but they also get the chance to meet new people and take a break from their busy schedule.
There are multiple artists at each venue, with some having around five to 10 artists each, while others can have a little more or less. Many more artists are welcome to be a part of this event.
“I think a lot of people feel like they don’t have the right art to show, or that people don’t want to see their work, and neither of those are true,” MacAuley said.
More artists are always welcome to the event.
“We definitely need more diversity.” MacAuley said. “Even if you’re not an artist, you’ll still find a lot of value coming down to First Fridays.”
The next event will be held May 5.