Thursday: the art of a community effort
Thursday attracts thousands of people out for a night of gathering
with friends and viewing artwork at various galleries in downtown
Portland. Each month the galleries work hard to show new exhibits,
with openings coinciding on the same day.
began in 1986 due to the late William Jamerson, who had observed
the popularity of similar events in other cities, according to Elizabeth
Leach of Elizabeth Leach Galleries. The First Thursday Association
began with six galleries, including Leach's. Now 12 galleries are
a part of the monthly event. Many other downtown businesses also
open for the event, even though they may not be a part of the First
is a grassroots movement that promotes the education of art while
also promoting individual businesses," Leach says. She adds that
the event has proven to be successful beyond wildest expectation.
have become leaders in the community by setting a structure for
people to have better access to art. "Galleries can be intimidating,"
says Stephanie Schlicting, director of the Blackfish Gallery. "First
Thursday offers people an opportunity to visit galleries that they
might otherwise feel uncomfortable entering."
if First Thursday has proven to be lucrative, Leach replied, "Galleries
get taken for granted. They offer a social service and educational
First Thursday is a social activity, the audience does look at the
art. Many viewers, becoming more familiar with contemporary art,
return to galleries. And some become buyers. Although First Thursday
itself has not been lucrative for many galleries, connections made
each month prove to be financially rewarding in the long run --
both for galleries and contributing artists.
has also attracted many artists who set up booths or lay down blankets
on the sidewalks of the Pearl District. Some artists are selling
their work at low prices because they do not have to pay a commission
to the galleries. Others are there for exposure and entertainment
only -- many perform live art in the streets, and singers, musicians,
puppet artists and live installations are among them.
Thursday has evolved over 15 years and grown to include restaurants,
hair salons, hoards of people in the streets and individual artists
-- sometimes appearing to be a circus -- the event has become ingrained
in the art community. The next First Thursday is Feb. 1, while next
month's falls on March 1. Times vary at many galleries. Most receptions
are between 6-9 p.m. For more information, pick up a First Thursday
gallery guide at participating galleries and restaurants in the
downtown area or visit one of the following:
Russo Gallery: 805 NW 21st Ave.
Alysia Duckler Gallery: 1236 NW Hoyt St.
Pulliam Deffenbaugh Gallery: 522 NW 12th Ave.
PICA: 219 NW 12th Ave.
Margo Jacobsen Gallery: 1039 NW Glisan St.
Blackfish Gallery: 420 NW 9th Ave.
Mark Wooley Gallery: 120 NW 9th Ave., #210
Elizabeth Leach Gallery: 207 SW Pine St.
Froelick Gallery: 817 SW 2nd Ave.
Augen Gallery: 817 SW 2nd Ave.
thanks to Elizabeth Leach of the Elizabeth Leach Gallery and Stephanie
Schlicting of the Blackfish Gallery.