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First Friday – May 2011

This past First Friday marked several interesting developments in the growth of arts and culture in Downtown Raleigh. Notably, the new Contemporary Art Museum had its inaugural First Friday opening, DesignBox revisited the extremely popular PBaRt show, Centerline Studios had a Tornado Fundraising art auction, Flanders Art Gallery had an opening, and it was announced that the Visual Art Exchange would be moving from its current location in City Market to a new location in the Warehouse District. Coupled with the Raleigh Institute of Contemporary Art, 311 Martin Street studios, Raleigh Denim’s recently opened store/production center and a very convenient R-Line stop, the Warehouse district seems fully poised to take over as the central cultural and artistic sector of Downtown Raleigh.

Realistically, this was bound to happen, and while it is nice to have lots of galleries strewn all over downtown (this promotes a wider circulation of people and therefor more exposure to the city as a whole), it is comforting to know that there will always be a central area where there is a large concentration of creativity. And what a hub it is! The new Contemporary Art Museum is a fantastic addition to Downtown Raleigh, with large installation pieces and unique architectural stylings that blend a very New York City warehouse gallery feel with an interesting modern flair. Inside was artwork made from industrial byproducts (coat hangers, large cardboard boxes, stretch film) by Dan Steinhilber (below).

The title image at the top of the article is taken from the outside of the massive inflatable installation, looking in. This piece was very popular, and a long line had formed to go inside of it.

Naoko Ito’s work, unlike the massive Steinhilber pieces, was much more fragile and articulated, making commentary on the interaction of humans and nature (or the obvious lack there of) in urban environments. Her pieces illustrated the tendency and necessity of people to import nature to their cities, where it cannot easily flourish on its own. The fact that the branches she used were cut up and compartmentalized into jars is also an interesting statement about how nature has to be altered, cut, and dismantled just to move it from wild spaces to urban locations, and how its relocation ultimately emphasizes how out of place it actually is.

The Contemporary Art Museum’s inaugural First Friday show was everything I’d hoped it would be. CAM Raleigh was a smashing success and a good sign for the future. More information about CAM’s hours, exhibitions, location and other events can be found at their website.

Right across the street from CAM was the second annual PBaRt show, put on by DesignBox. Inside was PBR inspired artwork (is there any other kind?) and outside was a band, an OnlyBurger food truck, and a deep supply of PBR. With such a great combination of things, how could one not enjoy themselves?

Sadly, there were several shows I attended but did not take sufficient pictures of: String Theory, a  textiles show put on by the NCSU College of Design’s Fish Market, displaying the high quality of work of students from the school. The Fish Market is located at the corner of Fayetteville Street and Hargett Street, right below the Urban Design Center. They would love to see you any Saturday. Stop by sometime and check them out!

Lump also had a show, it was a bit tame by Lump standards, but still interesting with some nice contemporary paintings. If you’ve never been to Lump, or just haven’t been there when the sun is up (kind of like most people’s relationship with the bar formerly known as Jackpot!), they are on Blount Street a block east of the Lincoln Theatre, next to a church.

(Photo By Ian F. G. Dunn)

Lastly, the bikers showed up again, in force, for the monthly Bike First Friday. We easily had over 100 riders, and almost everyone got a free CAM Raleigh T-Shirt. Thanks again to everyone who came out! If you’ve never biked a First Friday, we meet at the Belltower at 7pm and leave soon thereafter for a great ride to lots of cool places. Bring locks, lights, and friends (and bikes, of course!)

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