Live music and the buzz of shared interest fill the Galleries at Sunset Center once a month when it hosts the First Friday Art Walk. The first Friday of every month from 5-9 p.m., the community is welcome to admire and mingle free of charge through 55 studio-galleries displaying the work of over 100 local artists’ personal work exhibited in the indoor mall. First Friday has become part of some individuals in the art community’s monthly schedules, such as regular attendee Elvin Lamb, who said for him and his wife it’s somewhat of a tradition.
“I’ve been coming out here since it began, I don’t know how long it’s been,” Lamb said. “I had a friend open a gallery way back when, and me and my wife have been coming back every month since.”
Artists and art enthusiasts alike are given the unique opportunity for a glimpse into what one another has been working on for the past month, giving attendees a chance to both view and purchase pieces that catch their eye.
“Of course selling art, for me, is a major part of it,” David Alan Corbin said, owner and artist at gallery ArtGecko. “We try to make up what we put into in, which is why ArtGecko offers so much diversity. We try to make a market for everyone.”
Corbin and his wife, Loretta, have been participants and artists in First Friday since 2005.
“People travel to Taos and Santa Fé and will pay three times what they would here in their own backyard,” Corbin said. “We tell people they need to buy local, support local art.”
While having an opportunity to profit from their work is important for some artists such as the Corbins, others such as Brandi Florek, artist and resident of gallery “The Stache,” say the atmosphere and community behind First Friday are what bring her back to Sunset Center every month.
“It’s cool to see people looking and thinking, and of course sometimes buying your work,” Florek said. “It’s an amazing sense of community, all of the artists together being supportive of one another.”
“The Stache,” a gallery open since April, is a cooperative effort of 10 artists, most of whom are local educators according to Florek, who has personally been employed by Region 16 since August. Florek says that they all pitched in to form “The Stache” because of their shared love and appreciation for art.
“Every month, I really think we all try and step it up from the previous months, try new things,” Florek said. “And everyone offers something so different to the group. Photography, oil paintings, mixed media pieces, graphic design, sculpture, we let anything and everything in.”
While fully enjoying the fun and diversity of the event, Florek and Corbin both conceded to the amount of work that goes into the monthly show.
“It takes the full month to get ready for another show, and sometimes it’s difficult finding inspiration for new work,” Florek said. “But I think getting ready and hanging art before the show opens is my favorite part, I love it. People come bringing in new stuff; it’s so cool to see what everyone came up with every time.”
Similar to many of the artists participating in First Friday, all of the residents of “The Stache” work fulltime day jobs, according to Florek, who says it never feels like there’s enough time to get everything done. However, she says somehow they all just make it work.
“[First Friday] is so exciting and fun,” Florek said. “You really put yourself out there for everyone to see. It pushes your boundaries, which can be scary, but really worth it.”