Tulsa art crawl takes over downtown galleries and shops.
First Fridays are unique experiences that provide a glance into the arts community of Tulsa. During these monthly events, galleries and museums stay open later to showcase the work of local artists and allow free admission to visitors. These artists work in a variety of media — from oil paint to collages to glassblowing. Even local stores like Made: The Indie Emporium Shop participated with sales on art prints.
This month’s installation of First Friday encompassed a particularly diverse range of entertainment. Each month, Guthrie Green hosts a musical performance during the First Friday festivities. At the October First Friday, performances were kicked off at 6:00 p.m. with the Booker T. Washington High School jazz band, followed by the WestAfrican, Arabian-Peninsula and funk-influenced band Yemen Blues. After these two performances, art crawlers could buy tickets to a wine tasting/jazz club sneak peak and performance by The Bad Plus that lasted until midnight.
Beyond these scheduled acts, performers took to the streets around downtown to share their talents with passersby. This included a preview of “Man of La Mancha” by University of Tulsa theatre students, who were in full costume to sing and monologue while passing out flyers. “Man of La Mancha” will be the first musical of the year put on at TU, scheduled to take place on October 18 starting at 6 p.m.
Musical acts, like break dancers, entertained guests on corners as they were serenaded by musicians singing original songs while playing the guitar. Even when not inside of galleries, First Friday participants are immersed in the local arts scene.
One of the largest galleries to open its doors to visitors without an entrance fee was ahha Tulsa, a three story building next to the Guthrie Green. This month, ahha teamed up with the Tulsa Artists’ Coalition to present a juried exhibition. Usually juried exhibitions are judged by a panel of experts or artists who critique the art based on a specific rubric. Instead, ahha provided small multicolored balls that visitors could use to jury the art themselves. These were available throughout the gallery with a key that outlined the meaning of each color: green for beautiful, yellow for innovative, red for fine craftsmanship, and blue for thought provoking. Visitors were able to drop these balls into tubes beside several works, effectively allowing the public to have first-hand involvement and participation in the art.
One of the artists whose work was showcased at ahha was TU digital arts alumna Michele Clancy. She exclaimed that her submission “Abstract in Morocco” is her first time having art in a First Friday. She hopes that having her work featured in such a big event will help her career.
First Friday is not just an opportunity for visitors to participate in and learn about local art, but also a chance for artists to get recognition on a larger scale than would usually be possible. First Fridays are an important part of creating an accepting and open community in Tulsa and are a fun way to support local artists. The next event will take place on Nov. 2 and promises to bring even more innovative exhibits for guests to enjoy.