By Jordan Mathieson
Breaking into the art scene can be intimidating for both artists and viewers, but First Friday Art in Burlington makes the local art community accessible.
The first Friday of every month, a variety of venues open their doors to the public and showcase local artists. Coordinators Chris Byrne and Ric Kasini Kadour have been creating the Art Map since 2006. The map makes it easy to find places for viewing art, and for artists to showcase their art. The venues include galleries, coffee shops, and local businesses. Formerly called First Friday Art Walk, Byrne and Kadour had to drop the ‘walk’ after the event became so expansive it was no longer feasible to walk to all of the participating venues in a night.
Byrne explains that First Friday Art “provides an avenue for venues to get the word out in a concentrated way.” First Friday Art has made a positive impact on the Burlington art community. Seth Mobley at Vermont Community Access Media (VCAM) on Flynn Ave, a non-profit community media center, said First Friday Art has been “tremendously beneficial.” VCAM primarily shows multi-media art works, offering opportunities to artists to showcase their digital work. Christy Mitchell’s S.P.A.C.E. gallery uses First Friday Art to time their new openings, making it possible to do 12 or more shows a year.
Mitchell is motivated to keep the arts alive in Burlington. Her gallery, S.P.A.C.E. on Pine St. in the South End, was created to do just that. She provides a sustainable place that is “accessible to artists at all phases in their careers”. S.P.A.C.E. has a main gallery as well as an auxiliary gallery in the back and 18 artist studios. She recognizes that it’s important for an artist to have a consistent outlet to display their work, and First Friday Art is accomplishing that.
Many of the participating galleries strive to make their spaces warm and inviting, but if that’s not your scene, stops such as Speeder and Earl’s on Pine St. and New Moon Cafe on Cherry St. also open up for First Friday. Cafe venues offer living local artwork in a familiar place with an added bonuses like coffee and food.
First Friday Art brings the Vermont art community and greater Burlington community together. The Art Map provides artists with a greater opportunity to find places to showcase their works and it has made viewing art more accessible to the community. If you’re curious about living work by contemporary local artists, the next First Friday Art is March 3, from 5-8pm. A lot of the venues are concentrated in the South End of Burlington, but check out artmapburlington.com to find venues in the Old North End, South Burlington, Winooski, and Shelburne