North Texas Daily

First Friday of the month showcases artists

First Friday of the month showcases artists

July 31
16:01 2014

Alexandra Anderson / Contributing Writer

Artists have teamed up with downtown businesses to feature a variety of talent in the local arts community in what’s known as First Friday Denton.

A mix of galleries, shops and restaurants around the historic downtown square has kept doors open late for festivities on the first Friday of the month since 2010.  In addition to exhibitions, live music, artistic demonstrations and food, local artists and artisans have the opportunity to sell their work at the different businesses for the night.

This month’s event is from 7 to 10 p.m. on Aug. 1.  A Creative Art Studio will host a sidewalk chalk activity, a group painting, and music by E.T. and the Dreamcatchers and The Fleurettes.  Featured artist of the month is mixed media and printmaker Crystal Nelson, who teaches classes at the studio and in the Lewisville school district.

Crowds typically flood the sidewalks and buildings buying, selling, making and generally engrossed with various forms of art.  Paintings, drawings, music, metalwork, glass and fabric are some of what is found lining tables and shelves throughout the area.

“It’s an exceptional opportunity for individual artists to be showcased, if they take advantage of it,” First Friday Denton founder Shannon Drawe said.

Eric Mercado, an electrical engineering junior at UNT, has found marketing and demonstrating his jewelry and metal crafting skills lucrative during First Friday festivities.

“I was able to sell more in one night than I would normally have in two or three weeks,” he said.  “Being able to get instant feedback on what customers liked was invaluable to me as a seller.”

Participating three to four times a year, Mercado has seen how people of Denton look forward to the event each month.  He said it has also helped create a strong sense of community.

Drawe, a professional photographer and Denton local, began the event after hearing about similar artistic celebrations in other towns.  Instead of pursuing city governmental channels, he took a grassroots approach by starting a website to launch the concept and spread the word.

Robin Huttash, owner of A Creative Art Studio, has also been involved in the event from the beginning.

Drawe reached out to Huttash, who used to hold art shows independently.  After collaborating to find ways for enhancing artistic presence in the community, First Friday Denton was born.

“It’s like throwing a party for the community.  That’s essentially what we’re doing each month,” Huttash said.

The event encourages participation from those normally consumed with work during the week, as well as enjoyers of the later downtown nightlife.  It helps cater to the best of both interested worlds and attract a lot of different people, Huttash said.

Other frequently participating galleries and businesses include SCRAP Denton, Banter Bistro, the DIME Store, Circa 77 Vintage and UNT on the Square.

Drawe and Huttash said they are pleased to see citizens grow more aware and enthusiastic toward creative presences in Denton.

“Many of us considered ‘old locals’ enjoy the fact the Square is so alive,” Drawe said.  “What I see is familiar faces mixing with new people and students.  It’s very uplifting to see good things like this happening.”

A Creative Art Studio is located on 227 W. Oak Street, Suite 101. A complete list of participating locations and monthly event schedules can be viewed on the First Friday Denton website, firstfridaydenton.com.

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