Wednesday, August 3, 2016

First Friday August Highlights

One point of criticism regarding Las Vegas you’ll hear often is that there is no culture. Actual theater has been replaced with highly stylized variety shows. Architecture has taken a backseat to overly themed resorts dripping with neon. While it’s true Las Vegas has no art museum … yet, we do have First Friday. The aptly named art festival has taken place in Las Vegas’ 18b Arts District, about halfway between the Strip and Downtown, on the first Friday of every month for nearly 15 years. The festival is a celebration of local artists and galleries. This coming Friday happens to be First Friday, and whether you show up for the live music and food trucks or the artwork, you’ll have a good time. Here’s a preview of some of August’s highlights.

There are a couple of noteworthy additions to the 18b gallery scene this month. Both located at 1800 S. Industrial Road, Evil Vinyl and Zero to Zen are celebrating grand openings this Friday. Evil Vinyl will offer a smorgasbord of shirts, banners, stickers and “all things printed and artsy!” Pop into Zero to Zen for an art show, reiki demonstrations, meditation lessons and yoga classes. You can find both at Downtown Spaces, a hip mid-century modern complex built in 1964 on the edge of the Arts District.

Also found at Downtown Spaces, Heartbroken Reality will exhibit a new show from local art collective Weft in the Weave member Sam Canales, Bubblegum Gallery will display a Harry Potter themed group show, and Skin City Body Painting is hosting August Abstract, featuring body painting and work from artists Santiago Vasquez, Angela Black, Michelle Hengveld and Robin Slonina.

The Arts Factory, one of the two galleries that started the tradition, is always a happening hangout during the festivities. The Twisted Artist Gallery inside will hang a new showing from artist Matthew Murphy called “After Dark.” Hiptazmic, a locally owned shop selling handmade jewelry, accessories and art made from recycled materials, will host what is being billed as a “Pop-up Pokéstop Shop ‘N’ Play” event. They will be selling Pokémon items and raffling away prizes via Snapchat. With more than two dozen galleries, a yoga studio and a pub, The Arts Factory is worth a visit.

While not officially within the festival footprint, Fremont East District businesses are still honorary First Friday participants. Points of interest such as Emergency Arts, at the northwest corner of Fremont and Sixth streets, will certainly offer up artsy activities for First Friday crowds. Head over to Downtown Container Park for an outdoor performance by singer-songwriter Cameron Dettman at 8 p.m. Also, make it a point to stop by The Beat Coffeehouse & Records, just below Emergency Arts, as this longtime Downtown Las Vegas staple will soon close its doors.

The majority of galleries will be open this Thursday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. in conjunction with Preview Thursday, which is intended to give the serious art connoisseurs, critics and collectors first crack at new exhibits. It’s the art festival without the festival. First Friday runs from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. as well. Follow VegasDaze on social media for more useful vacation advice and recommendations, and browse our website for tickets to the city’s hottest shows, attractions, tours and nightlife!

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