Writings from the Wall. Penticton Art Gallery – First Fridays
While local and world events indicate that our government, in conjunction with corporations, are moving further away from the minds of the people, individuals and communities and are persistently moving towards sustainability, diversity, and collaborations that create new systems and organizational structures that push against the fabric of that larger spread. As those threads are unraveled the existing fabric cannot hold the weight of its own construction. It only makes sense that as the old guard is pushed out that revolts, protests and social activism will escalate as everyday people are inspired to join the front line of change.
For Canada, a very young country, we have just begun to define ourselves as we come of age at the beginning of a century full of upheaval. So where does arts & culture fit into all this? These days I wonder what relevance the arts has when there is so much to attend to, to read, to view, to respond to. But the reality is that the arts, in all its forms, create hubs and centers where social and political activism can happen. The spaces that house these organizations bring people out into the public sphere to engage with each other through dialogue.
Conversations are the fuel behind innovative and new ideas, as the ideas circulate they create momentum and movement needed to ignite real action. In the film, Exit Through The Gift Shop, Los Angeles artist Shepard Fairey says of graffiti, “the more [it is] out there the more important it seems, the more important it seems, the more people want to know what it is, the more they ask each other, the more it gains real power from perceived power”(Cushing & Gay-Rees, 2010). This same statement can be applied to dialogue that transforms ideas into action whether social, political or creative.
The Penticton Art Gallery has been hosting First Fridays since 2007. The first Friday of most months an open mic is hosted in the Tea Room at 7:30pm. It is open to all ages and all forms of performance; musicians, poets and speakers are all welcome to the stage. Tea, coffee and treats are available by donation. Drawing supplies are laid out on the tables for people to create with while listening to the performers. I often sit in the Project Room or the Main Gallery engaged in various conversations and discussions. Created by the present curator, Paul Crawford, First Fridays is a way to get more people in the gallery and a way for Paul to get to know the community as a new resident. Paul says the success of the event is that “First Friday’s has opened up the gallery to a larger audience and made it more accessible to young people. It has also provided an opportunity for the weekend receptionist to take ownership of the evening and give them a sense of having a stake in the creation of the gallery.” In talking with Farron, the present weekend receptionist, she would like to develop First Fridays, “into an open forum to discussions on how to make our arts community more accessible and relevant”.
For more information on First Fridays at The Penticton Art Gallery follow the link:
or come check it out next month on March 2nd and see what Farron has been cooking up.
Bring your instruments, your voice, your words and your ideas!