On the first Friday of every month, there is a phenomenon occurring in Indiana: First Friday. The event consists of several art galleries and studios throughout the state welcoming anyone in the community to experience creations of local artists. The event is non-exclusive and provides a different experience every month. I’ve been attending the Harrison Center for the Arts for several First Fridays, and now I can’t imagine spending my Fridays anywhere else.
My personal engagement with First Fridays consists of volunteering at the events in any way HCA needs assistance. The majority of the time, I contribute by promoting sales in the main Harrison Gallery with Executive Director Joanna Taft. It is riveting to play a part in art sales as someone who is simply over the moon in love with the arts. Assisting in sales also leads to many impromptu and invigorating conversations as the gallery is constantly filled with a crowd of people. It seems everyone is bursting with something to discuss, and it's quite easy to pass several moments speaking to someone I’ve just met. Clearly, the networking opportunities are endless, and you never know who may walk through the doors and the connections you will make.
One of my favorite aspects of the event is the intimacy with the artists. There are numerous in-house artists with studios throughout HCA. They are commonly on site for the event, and always approachable for discussion. I especially enjoy this aspect because most of the time I spend viewing art, I can’t simply cross the room and engage in conversation with the mind behind the work. I’ve had the chance to speak with several in-house and premiere artists, and there is no opportunity quite like it in Indy. You feel a sense of connection to the arts, and a valuable, deeper understanding for the artists’ creations.
The Harrison Center also provides different forms of entertainment throughout the facility. In recent weeks, there have been ballet performances and an array of small businesses selling inexpensive merchandise in the gymnasium. First Fridays suit all crowds at all ages. For example, for those who enjoy literature, New York Times bestselling author Dan Wakefield spoke at the December First Friday. His four talks brought great humor and information to the event. Mr. Wakefield spoke on the best writers of Indiana, including John Green and Kurt Vonnegut.
I can recommend First Fridays so eagerly because I know anyone can find something of interest when they attend. For IUPUI students, the First Friday events are close to campus and an obvious way to culture oneself, enjoy quality conversation, and interact with new people. It’s a perfect excuse to spend your Friday evening out on the town and find out how the arts are interacting with your community.