Sunday, May 3, 2009

History of Final Fridays

So excited I was with my experience of Final Fridays, I decided to ask people about what they thought of the concept. I started with my neighbour, Steven Richter, the very next morning.

He said he had been to Final Fridays and liked the event. In fact he wondered if a similar event could be started in Athens. Steven is a cartoonist and a musician and has lived in Athens for many years.

The history
Encouraged by his response, I called the "Athens County Visitor's Bureau" last week to know more about the history of Final Fridays. They pointed me to Ann Judy, a well known ceramic artist of Starbrick Clay, a gallery at the Sqaure. She said Final Fridays began in April of 2002.

It was the idea of Aaron Smith, the then art director of Foothills Art School, which is also at the Square. Ann said he was inspired by the art events he had seen in Columbus and other cities, and wanted to start something on those lines at the Square in Nelsonville.
Ann explained that at that time many art groups had settled in the Square area.The Square is also a pedestrian friendly area making it appropriate for sidewalk entertainment. And thus came along the Final Fridays.

I think Final Fridays is a superb idea, a bridge between common people and the artists in the area. When I asked Ann about her thoughts, she described Final Fridays as a great "showcase" for the artists. "It's an opportunity to get more people to come enjoy art," she said.

Sara Gilfert, art direcor of "Paper Circle," a gallery that exhibits paper art, said that the closest art museum for the people in Nelsonville is in Athens and then in Lancaster. Final Fridays is a perfect event to fill this gap.

Ann mentioned that when they started Final Fridays in 2002, they didn't expect it to grow to the present scale.The event evolved over a period of time. A group of business/gallery owners at the Square, decides on the Final Friday themes for each month, and tries to keep the event fresh as well as fun.
As I mentioned in my previous post, each month, the galleries present a new show. Artists come over from Columbus, Cincinnati and Cleveland to exhibit their work in different galleries at the Square. The art shows continue for a month, till new exhibits are unvailed on the next Final Friday.

Ann said Final Fridays may move under the auspices of Nelsonville Area Chamber of Commerce next year but the planning will still be done by the group of artists and retail business owners at the Sqare.

Community spirit
I had seen Lorraine Wochna and Diana Nichols, librarians from the Ohio University, at the Square. I asked them later what they thought about Final Fridays.

Lorraine said she likes supporting art in Nelsonville and likes seeing all the people. She enjoys the different art shows going on at the Majestic, and the differnt artworks at all the other businesses.

"I love going to Starbrick Clay, I have a pottery 'thing'," she said.

Diana shared similar feelings. "I enjoy art, and there is always a new exhibit or performance to see. What's really nice is that Final Fridays is a community event, so I almost always see someone there I know."

Both of them try to attend Final Fridays every month.

If you decide to head to the Sqare on next Final Friday, mark the date in your calendars: May 29.

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