While Broad Street galleries struggle to get the troubled the First Fridays Art Walks under control, nearly a dozen galleries in the Fan are banding together to promote art venues on West Main Street.
The formation of the group, Galleries on West Main, isn’t related in any way to First Friday’s recent woes, organizers say. They’re simply trying to promote the concentration of art spaces between Harrison and Meadow streets.
“Despite the economic downturn, a lot of us have been having some great success,” says B.J. Kocen, co-owner of the Glave Kocen Gallery. “It’s become a lot more vibrant. A lot more galleries and art spaces are becoming more successful in our neck of the woods.”
The organization has talked about holding a monthly art event, possibly called Last Look Sunday, that likely would draw comparisons to Curated Culture’s First Fridays, the Broad Street events that have seen problems with crowds and disruptions in recent months. Organizers decided on Friday to cancel September’s scheduled Art Walk.
Fan gallery owners say their art stroll would in no way compete with First Fridays. “It’s not an event to come here,” says Loryn Brazier, owner of Brazier Studio and Gallery. “It’s just a collection of galleries that are here, and you get to see a variety of work.”
Brazier notes the differences between the two streets’ galleries: Many Broad Street galleries are nonprofit venues focused on local artists, whereas the Main Street spaces sell nationally known as well as local artists.
Kocen emphasizes that such an event has only been discussed, not planned. “It’s just an idea we’re kicking around,” he says. “It’s just loose talk at this point. The main thing we’re focused on right now is basically organizing.”
Organizers are working on promotional materials, including a website (mainartsupply.com/galleriesonmainstreet) and a Facebook page. The latter was started more than two months ago. Kocen says area galleries tried unsuccessfully to organize about three years ago. “We couldn’t get past what to name the association,” he says.
Christina Newton, director of Curated Culture, doesn’t think such an event would affect First Fridays, she says: “The more outlets for people to access arts and culture, the better.”