This weekend I spent two evenings out with my best date, my lovely bride. Our first First Friday was a learning experience. The stormy weather had us hemming and hawing a bit about even going so we set out later than was probably optimal. Our friends the First Friday veterans had said they usually went to the galleries on Main Street first so we went there and frankly were a little disappointed. The Reynolds had that cool piece “Splatter” that was on Style’s Fall Arts cover and a pretty impressive and huge thing with mirrors (shown inside in the same Style issue). But the whole experience was kind of like a cliché representation of an art opening: lots of self-consciously hiply-casual people milling about checking out each other a lot more than they were looking at the art. Many of the subsequent galleries we went to were pretty much the same, only less crowded and less fabulous than the Reynolds. And don’t get me started on the prices. I like abstract art, I like challenging art, but you couldn’t pay me a million dollars to pay $40,000 for something that looks like an ugly, lumpy piece of rock. It’s a good thing I’m not an art critic.
Having said that, I did buy a colorful, clever (and reasonably priced) piece at the Artemis called “Leaning Lovers” by a Colorado artist named Julia Watkins who calls her style “energism.” I guess I’m one of those fuddy-duddys who still likes my art at least a little bit ‘pretty.’
We didn’t get down to where the real action was on Broad Street until about 10pm (after the horror of parking) and my beloved was getting a little sleepy. But what a different scene! There was so much going on with the bands and the street theater and the installations in allies and projected down the street. The place was buzzing with energy PLUS you could go into a place like the joint across from Theatre IV (where Zoo Valdes was laid out for the night) and actually imagine buying one of the pieces because they were less than $200 instead of more than $20K. Call me a socialist, but I think art should be for everyone. We also ran into a few theater folks that were fun to talk to and avoided some (but not all) of the art-scene folks that we knew and would have been better off avoiding. I heard people say at least twice that the event had a very New York vibe, which I agree with except that if this kind of thing was in NYC I think it would have been both four times more crowded and four times more expensive.
Over all, it was a good introduction to the FF scene and will help us focus our efforts in the future for maximum fun. And in the more even-handed light of morning, I was asking myself: does every “scene” seem as pretentious and self-obsessed from the outside? Is that the way theater folks seem to “outsiders” when they gather in packs? My, I hope not.
Saturday was our second date night in a row and we took in “Side Show” at the Mill, which I am still processing as the musical phrase “Look at the Freaks!” echoes in my head. As delightful as many aspects of the show were, the best part for me was being able to deconstruct it with someone at least as knowledgeable about theater and certainly as passionate about it. I guess I’m lucky because even when I go to a show by myself, I get to work out my thoughts about it in my reviews afterword. But it’s much more fun doing it with another person (I’m working really hard to avoid a vulgar analogy here so I’ll just move on…)
I’ll have more thoughts about “Side Show” in a few days and I expect to have a lot to say. The 300 words or so that make it into print will really just be scratching the surface this time.