My son is an artist, so one of the things we love to do together is go to the many events held on Friday nights where galleries stay open late and the community organizes other activities to attract visitors. While we are most devoted to Final Friday, which features the art in our town of Cary, the biggest in the area is First Friday, which is held in Raleigh (Chapel Hill and Carroboro do Second Friday, while Durham holds Third Friday). But all the galleries and art spaces are closed due to the coronavirus restrictions. What is a family to do?
What the organizers of First Friday did was to create a virtual First Friday. There were many options, since it involved logging onto Zoom or Facebook Live or other formats, or watching Youtube videos, or downloading activities, so I’ll just talk about our path. We kicked it off with a LIVE DJ set by Kristen Stoneman, aka DJ K Stones. I danced along with her house party mix for 30 minutes (which reminded me that I really needed to kick up my aerobics exercise, now that I’m not going to my weekly class). Then we tuned into an event by the United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County (a wonderful organization that always supports the arts, but is now trying to raise funds to keep the stereotype of starving artists from coming true). It was a drumming workshop with Greg Whitt of Drum for Change, who is one of our local treasures (I’ve worked with him on a couple of things, so I’m not unbiased, but I think most people who know of him would say the same thing).
See below to understand why I say that:
Greg did an online session that tried to do that, combining storytelling, international drumming education, and a joint music-making activity that people could participate by gentle slaps on their own bodies if they didn’t have drums.
There were some video studio tours by galleries or artists we love to visit, including my friend, Charlene Newsome, whose Gallery C is sponsoring a Best of North Carolina Show:
Plus a teacher my son loves, sculptor Paris Alexander:
One of the places we always love visiting is Artspace, which had a number of hands-on activities to do based on their current exhibits and artists:
There was other live and recorded music, and links to all sorts of downtown Raleigh food and drink establishments that are doing pick-up or delivery, and more.
So was it the same as going to First Friday? Of course not. But major kudos to all these artists and organizations who are trying to provide the inspiration and connection and joy of the arts even when we all need to stay home. It’s a great example of the way many institutions are having to re-invent themselves to continue serving under these difficult circumstances.