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Hometown Impressions

First Friday offers buffet of cultural options

40 West Arts kicks of July with multiple events


The 40 West Arts District does so much, so often, that it’s easy to take it all for granted.

The sheer scope of interactive offerings was evident on July 7, the first Friday of July, where nine creative businesses, including galleries, had events for the community.

Visitors could stop by the Gallery of Everything and Red Herring Art Supply for live demonstrations, drinks and snacks, go to the Miracle Street Gallery for a barbecue, or rock out to the Clawhammer Band at Momentum Park.

And word appears to be spreading.

“We’re in town for a wedding and read about everything you do for First Fridays,” a couple from St. Louis said to Liz Black, 40 West’s executive director, at the opening for the 40W Gallery’s contemporary still life exhibit opening that evening.

This was great news for Black, because it allowed her to do one of her favorite things — crow about all the exciting things happening in the district, and spread love about art.

“I think contemporary still life reflects the time, place and culture so well,” Black explained. “It provides a way of looking at objects in a different light, and shows what’s really culturally relevant in our society.”

The 40W Gallery very much remains the hub of the district, but all the new galleries and businesses are proving the best kind of competition, with every gallery upping their game to match the neighbors.

The pieces on display as part of the still life show included everything from traditional mediums like photography and oil to 3-D mixed media pieces like Stefan Begej’s “Camille’s Purse — The Great Stillness After Bursting,” a playful piece that collect’s everything found in a woman’s purse.

As the district’s reach has grown, its longtime supporters have grown ever prouder of its successes and diversity.

“I come with my friends every month because they have such fun things,” said Lakewood resident Sheryl Wylie. “My favorite thing is to see what people can do with such crazy materials.”


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