Wednesday, July 29, 2015

First Fridays in Ypsilanti

When I lived in Kalamazoo, I would often accompany my grandparents to the Art Hop, the first Fridays of the month when a bunch of the local galleries, shops, and restaurants would "debut" new art collections and serve food and drinks, occasionally also accompanied by live music. Now you might be thinking that this wasn't such a cool thing to do because I was with my grandparents, but my grandfather is an artist and was a professional as well as artistic photographer, so his work was in some of these shows and he was friends with a lot of the other artists, too. 

The first nude photo I ever saw, a black and white, was when I was maybe four or five, my grandfather's latest project that my grandmother was showing to my mother. When I asked to see it, they showed it to me, and I learned that being naked is not shameful or ugly, but can be beautiful, and maybe the artist's wife will make you lunch. My grandparents also took me to my first art studio enclave, an old brick warehouse or factory in downtown Kalamazoo that had been converted into various spaces for artists of all kinds, normally closed to the public, but open for Art Fair. I met a big man with a three inch afro and huge glasses who said "shit" and my grandmother didn't chastise him. It was magical!

Everywhere I've moved, I have tried to find more events like Art Hop. But there is no singular name for such an event, so they are hard to find. While visiting Seattle, friends and I stumbled upon the Fremont Art Walk, another first Friday of the month art event. My fiance Greg and I also got to experience Arts Alive! while visiting a friend in Eureka, CA this past March. Why didn't such a thing exist in the Ann Arbor area? I wondered. 

It turns out one does exist in Ypsilanti. It's called First Fridays! How I had never heard of it in the five years I've lived in the area, I can only chalk up to bad advertising. I think Greg is the one who learned of it, and I can't remember how. Wanting to get to know our new neighborhood, we decided to attend a couple of weeks ago on the second Friday (they rescheduled due to the first Friday being the 3rd of July, thus too close to a holiday).

Since we both had to work, we missed out on a lot of events that were over by 8pm. But there was some terrific live music outside next to the library that we could enjoy from all around Michigan Ave (which serves as Ypsilanti's - as well as many other cities' - "Main St"). We got to check out the new 22 North gallery that I read about online a few months back. It's a great space! Happy to have them in Ypsi. We also dropped by Hyperion Coffee, which Greg has basically been stalking for over a month now. Coffee was tasty! You should check them out. 

We also discovered that Ypsi has been yarnbombed! (Whoot!) I've always wanted to yarnbomb something. Ypsi's out, so something else... Maybe something tiny... Like fairy-size tiny...

After visiting 9 places on the roster, we ended our evening at Sidetrack Bar & Grill, one of my favorite places to eat in Depot Town, where we came across an old pal from Ann Arbor, the Violin Monster! Awooo! We also saw, in one of the shop windows, candles shaped like the iconic Ypsilanti Water Tower, the most phallic building in the world (I am not making this up - judge for yourself). 

The next First Friday Art Walk in Ypsi will be held on August 7th. At least, I assume it will be. Nothing has actually been posted yet to the website. I shall keep an eye out, and so should you, provided you live in the Ypsilanti area. Or if you are visiting from out of town. Good times!

PS - Here is a picture of the candles because I couldn't mention them and not include a picture, right? Yes, it really is the tower and not some other object I could mention. Seriously. How much more phallic can a tower get? Thank you, Queen Anne!

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