Tuesday, April 9, 2013

First Friday First Timer

Okay, not really. But for the first time in over a year and a half, maybe even two years, I went out and “did” first Friday rather than sit in my own space and watch it unfold around me.  At the risk of getting some negative feedback or simply ignored, I want to point out some great points, some good points and some areas that could use a bit of improvement, from the point of view of an older person. Yes, I have to admit that perhaps my “disconnect” with the district is that I feel too old at times, a situation brought about by my own doing. And that would be why you ask? Nope, not going to write that down here! We can chat in person if you are truly interested.

Let’s go with the greats first. New spaces, new places and new faces! Tim Carmany’s “The Hub” is in its infancy now, but with time, will grow and expand and becomes an anchor. He is a visionary young man that seems to let nothing bother him that can’t be solved with a smile and a sense of humor.  Around the corner is the future home of Journey Studio’s. I will miss my gallery buddy Su Nimon but she and Jeff Dreyer have big plans to bring new work and new ideas to a corner of 4th Street. The facelift alone is worth a swing past.

A one night show event at the CMA was bringing in the crowds as the About Magazine’s First Stop is expanding. It did not hurt that the main galleries have two worthy shows on view, both local artists which often appeals to the GP a bit more than a show with those “real” artists (not my words people so calm down!!).  I felt a bit like Miss Barbara on Romper Room (I was on that show once!) as I kept seeing faces I’ve missed due to my absence.

Something I feel could be improved is the signage. The current street level sandwich sign boards are okay when one is upon them, but from a distance and with crowds on the sidewalks, impossible to see. What if tall directional signs like the one used in MASH with the arrows and distances could be put on various corners?  Arrows on these posts saying “Environmental Arts 2 blocks”,  The Hub 3 blocks” and “The Palace 1 block” could be set about so as to be seen above the heads of people and let them know which way to go and how far. The printed map is great, but most people are really map challenged (I teach orienteering and map reading to scouts and the inability to orient one’s direction is stunning at times.) Also, the printed map pamphlet thingy is a bit overcrowded with text and too small to read. Standing on a corner knowing I have 2 blocks to go down the street would be easier. Colors and logos could be used and maybe the different arts groups/galleries could design their own arrows and then the distances are added by AIS once locations for the posts have been determined. Just think’n out loud…..

Okay, what was annoying was the music. Sorry, but I find loud groups in small places with lots of equipment to be a pain. Not only does the musical group block the movement of people, but when crowds stop to listen and fill the spaces normally used for traffic flow, some of us just don’t bother walking in front of everyone (rather rude to the people and the performer to just pass in front and ignore both) and skip the exhibits. Not every venue is made for acoustical purposes….in one case, the poor singer sounded like a screaming cat as the sound bounced around and back. How can I enjoy your music when it is so loud I cannot make out what you saying? Guess I am just old.  One location to which I had never been, I almost missed because a performer (again, very loud and with lots of wires all about) had a group of listeners that completely blocked from view the door to the gallery/shop. I am curious as to how many of these venues pick their performer or if they are just assigned. Perhaps a database of willing musicians could be compiled from which the venues could choose their music so they complement each other a bit better.

One last irritant which is strictly a crowd thing, but to the roaming band of youth who feel the need to stop by every month and convert me….if you keep preaching in my house, I am going to pass the plate…you no pay, you no pray…get it? Rent a tent next time and keep it on the streets old school style.

On a sad note, we also made it to the Akron Art walk on Saturday and found several of the galleries shut down and out of business. The trolleys were running and the few venues open had decent crowds, but for a warm spring evening, it was rather empty. I hope this does not mean that the idea is beginning to wane or that the economy has taken its toll. Perhaps basketball and baseball were siphoning patrons, but it was disheartening to see empty parking lots and dark store fronts.

Back to the good stuff…visit Translations for  Impossible Gardens, Kevin Anderson’s Studio for his always outstanding “incredible machines” (I miss that computer game from my children’s era), the work of Margene May, and the fashions of Colette Wasdahl.  In Akron, the new Zeber Martell Gallery is outstanding and the art quilts of Connie Bloom at Summit Artspace always impress.