First Friday in Philly is great. It happens every month, it celebrates local artists and it makes art accessible to the general population. That said, you have to do it properly. The first time I went my friend and I wandered around like lost puppies and left feeling like we had been cheated by all the rave reviews by our friends. So let this be a cautionary tale: don’t be me, don’t be a lost puppy. Instead, follow this guide to get First Friday right the first time around.
When to go:
First Friday is a time where it certainly pays to be fashionably late. Even though the evening technically starts at 5, nothing is fun until at least 7:30. Take your time leaving campus, get dinner before—since when are artists known for being punctual?
Where to go for the art (galleries):
Vox Populi is the best place to go to get your art fill for the evening. Located at 319 North 11th Street, this local gallery hosts new exhibitions each month, each opening on First Fridays. This month, the gallery is showing exhibitions from four alternative arts organizations: Threewalls (Chicago), Possible Press (Atlanta), The Lumiary (St. Louis) and KCHUNG (Los Angeles), all a part of Philadelphia’s ongoing project Alternative Currencies, which works to bring in pieces from up and coming contemporary artists nationwide. Stop by between 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. to get a good dose of artist culture.
Where to go for the experience (to get drunk):
Let’s be real, First Fridays are not just about the art. Gallery openings are great, but more tangible art can be found on the street. Dozens of vendors fill up Olde City selling handcrafted jewelry, t–shirts, prints—you name it. The evening is a great chance for these new artists to get exposure and make some cash, and anyone from high school kids selling shirts [Ed. note: True story, my friends started their company this way] to artists selling paintings will be present and happy to sell you their work. Stroll through and see if anything suits your fancy.
Of course, you can’t have First Friday without the wine (you should probably even go a bit buzzed, it’s more fun that way). While many galleries offer an assortment of free wine and cheeses, head over to Pinot Boutique at 227 Market Street if you want something a bit more interesting (read: wine in paint buckets). Never buy boxed wine again—this is way more artsy.
Happy First Friday,y’all. Don’t let midterms get you down.