Tell you what, February's First Friday was enormously busy compared to January.
I think First Friday is still figuring out what it wants to be. I know there is a big controversy about the Roosevelt street closure - from the sounds of it, the expense of it is strangulating to the local businesses in the area and prohibitively expensive in comparison to the previous street closure, which was only on Garfield. Between the politics happening right now over this issue and the lack of access to electricity for vendors on the street, we are extremely appreciative for our partnership and support from MADE. Without this collaboration, we would have to power the lighting for our tent with a power generator, which pumps air pollution into the already-polluted winter Phoenix air, which we were not willing to do.
Aside from this issue, vendor requirements are another factor to consider in the overall scheme of things. In short, is First Friday going to be a place where local artists can show their work and find a good audience (and affordably so), or is it going to be a place for vendors who hawk items imported from other places? One of the guidelines for vendors at the Tempe Indie Chic event and the Sunnyslope Art Walk is that someone who has a booth must be representing their own work. I understand the challenge this situation creates - the street closures are very expensive, the police came in and said that the street closure needed to happen on Roosevelt instead of Garfield, and in order to afford the street closure, it must be paid for by someone. Also, will it stay bizarre? It's been known for being a bizarre free-for-all rather than some totally organized thing where you can't do what you want unless you pay for a booth and follow the system. That's kind of the point, to have a bizarre free-for-all, isn't it? Hopefully that won't get squashed.
I saw this event in Kevin Patterson's Facebook status:
"In my Inbox from artlink... There will be a Downtown Artist Issues Task Force meeting on February 11th, at City Hall at 3:00 pm. Please come. The key topic will be the street closures on Roosevelt and their impact on First Fridays. Please RSVP to : 602.262.4637 so the city can find an appropriately sized room."
Thursday at 3pm ... how many people with day jobs will be taking time off for this? I'm lucky because I have some flexibility. Oh, the politics!
So, I make mention of this issue because it's the context for February's First Friday. It was EXTREMELY busy compared to January. People weren't out of town on vacation anymore. We weren't looking down the street towards Central, where all of the organized booths were smooshed up against each other, wondering if anyone would wander down to where we are. This month, we were in the thick of it, and it was busier than ever!
First Fridays have gotten way more fun for Shay and I now that we have a home base at a booth, instead of trying to find a seat at an overly-crowded bar. We try to show up for set-up around 4:30pm and don't leave until 11. We used to do a lot of bar-hopping but nowadays we wake up way early the next morning for Roadrunner Farmers Market, which requires set-up beginning at 7 am.
Karen shows up whenever she makes it after work. Also, Cora's schedule is packed full, now that Phoenix Chorale has rehearsals on First Fridays which are Free and Open-to-the-Public. So, she shows up whenever that ends.
This time, Logan was singing just across the street from us. Modified was very crowded.
Shay managed to capture a photo of only one rad bicyclist, but he wasn't around with the camera when the parade of bicycles rode past us (twice). The bicyclists were followed by a parade of skaters. It seemed a lot of people were into creating their own parades.
I guess this is what the band next door to us looked like. I didn't get out and see much, aside from walking into Modified.
I did see this guy walking around with a big kitten on his shoulder. If you blow up the bottom picture to full-size, you can see the reflection of the neon word "OPEN" in his eyes. It looks like he was struggling to stay awake.
I enjoyed listening to this girl's voice from where we were setting up. The idea I've heard a lot (and even wondered sometimes myself) that "people who come to First Friday have no money to spend" was debunked. Someone came up and put $1,000 in her tip jar.
This was the first time we unrolled and used our new Bewilderknits banner. Using the digital art from the ever-talented MALL, my husband Shay created an entire Bewilderknits night time scene for our banner. In this new scene, all three of us Bewilderknitters are sitting in a knitting circle under a tree in the dark (much like on our camping trips) in the moonlight. We are either very small or else insects are very large, because there is a giant ladybug in the tree above us and a very big snail is carrying away our balls of yarn. We came up with these fantastic ideas for images and MALL brought them to life with her terrific skill. We were SO excited to have our new banner featuring her artwork blown up to a 10 foot wide by 2 foot tall size.
We received a lot of questions about who did the artwork for the banner. You can click an image to blow it up and see more detail.
I'm the one in pink spinning yarn. She took a photo I sent her of my spinning wheel (a Spinolution Mach II which I blogged about and have pictures of here at my Kittyknitter blog) and she also put me in a scarf pinned together with one of my felted flower pins, pictured here.
Cora is knitting in teal and brown, wearing a hat with a giant pom-pom much like the ones she always makes, and Karen is working on one of her felted purses.We were quite excited to put this up in our booth.
Mall even made reference to my Kittyknitter box line for me, by putting a stretching kitty next to my spinning wheel under the tree.
Something major was going on - either just the crowdedness or the great mood happening in the awesome weather, our new banner, or who-knows-what. People totally paid attention to our "Please Touch & Try On" sign and the booth became constantly filled with people.
In the picture below, everyone who was wearing something took it home with them!
My friend from ASU who I graduated with came with her friends and they all took home multiple items! They also looked fabulous in them, and I am making a special order for a capelette now. Anterre really looks fabulous in the teal cowl! I was so pleased :)
Pretty soon, a drumming circle started up just next to us in the yard. Shay took a few pictures before he jumped in.
To our surprise, February's First Friday was nearly as big as our Tempe Indie Chic event at the ASU Art Museum. We're excited for Third Friday. The weather these days is better than ever, and we meet (and re-meet) the greatest people at these events.Gif maker