First Friday: September 1st

Bored on a Friday night? Specifically every first Friday of each month? Oddly scheduled but if that’s true then hear me out; there’s an event that will solve this specific problem!

First Friday at Downtown Urbana is a local event every first Friday of each month; and last Friday, September 1, was their two year anniversary. The event starts as early as 5 p.m. to as late as 2 a.m. so it’s convenient for students who don’t want to go right after school and it’s long enough to show up whenever you have time.

Each First Friday has a different theme, last year in September they had a poetry themed month, and this month it was space themed! Urbana has four different categories of entertainment for the community to enjoy at First Friday; events surrounding the arts or shopping, eating or drinking, playing and music.

Art/Shopping

Local art galleries exhibit their most recent art by local artists and sometimes art is for sale too. If not for sale, sometimes the artists are there to talk about their works. First Friday is the best way to get recognition for beginning artists because it’s the little places that make them go big. Isn’t it nice to see what your community can do?

One place, Cinema Gallery, is always open every First Friday, but last Friday there were 5 other galleries exhibiting art.  

Cinema Gallery, located on West Main Street, had a show of specifically only new ceramics to display; including the artwork by Jacob Foran and his work titled “A Space for Everyone.”

Assorted ceramics from different artists occupied most of the gallery! Every six to eight weeks the art gallery rotates its main show. The ceramics will be displayed from August 30 to October 7, so don’t miss out on seeing them in person!

Ohio Windbreak, by Nadine Saylor

Athena, by Frank Gallo.

Baby Hair Bust, by Janis Mars Wunderlich.

New sculptures by Foran are highlighted this session by the Cinema Gallery. The gallery showcases work from only professional artists that are local to us; like art professors from the University of Illinois, Parkland College, Illinois State University, Eastern Illinois University, Fontbonne University, Illinois Wesleyan, Morehead State University and St. Louis Community College. Foran will be having his artist’s talk on October 7 from 3 to 5 p.m., so come see what his artwork is about!

Another art gallery that recently opened on the same street as Cinema Gallery is Gilbert Gallery. Similarly to Cinema Gallery, they display work from professors but in contrast also accept all artists’ work if they get in contact with the owner, Ilene Corman Silverman.
College students and stand alone artists have already sold and displayed their work at Gilbert Gallery.

This college student had their drawings, and some copies, sold in frames.

This freelance illustrator had her own room full of her artwork and illustrations.

Some other art related entertainment last Friday was Watercolor paintings at International Galleries, Pipapo, a branch from NORDEN Design at the collab building who now design jewelry with Pipapo, and a new photo gallery above the Courier called Urbana Museum of Photography.

Eat/Drink

In a short summary, we are unfortunately too young to drink, but food promotions from all over are for all.

Black Dog promoted their “horseshoe” sandwich, Bunny’s had a promotion on fish, Common Ground had free samples, Crane Alley had burger and dessert specials, Dancing Dog had their classic Vegan specials, and Sitara had a “say First Friday” discount!

All these are local food vendors of which are unique to just us. Burgers, barbeque, Indian, Thai, pizza and even vegan. Something for everyone!

Even if not during First Friday, come down and eat here during lunch! It’s practical for UHS students who don’t have a car and are tired of eating cafeteria food.  

Play

In a nutshell, these are for kids and the bigger kids, also known as teens. Main Street was closed because of the entertainment; Urbana Free Library provided 3D printing, Illini Dancesport had free dance lessons, live art demos, and the University of Illinois Astronomy showed up with out of this world activities and T-Shirt designing with Imbibe Urbana.

Not on Main, Amara Yoga offered some free yoga sessions at Lincoln Square Mall. Also found at the mall were LabEscape, Spark Museum+Play Cafe, and Urbana Acupuncture!

LabEscape had a cool plot about nuclear codes went missing and you as the scientist had less than half an hour to save the world! Visiting Spark with younger siblings could’ve been fun since it’s a cute cafe for children to play as adults had their apple juices. Or if you wanted to try something new, a free acupuncture was right for you!

Don’t be bummed if you missed these fun play events, these local events are always open for you to stop by and try out on your own! First Friday is just here to help promote and for the community to experiment!

Music

Like jazz? That was most of the music last Friday! Blackbird, another local restaurant, offered a live performance at their beautiful patio!

Independent Media Center, or IMC, offered street music by many DJs and live performances by local musicians like Kelsey Sharp who sang soul-acoustic. These artists helped bring awareness to IMC’s personal projects like Books For Prisoners or WRFU which is a local radio station (104.5) powered by volunteers who bring you electronic music.  

The Iron Post offered piano performances by C-U musicians then later some more Jazz at 8. But before going to the Iron Post at 8, you could’ve stopped by Sipyard at 6:30 to listen to CU Folk and Roots premiere their new festival for 2017 which starts on November 2-4. If you like folk music come and see for yourself by purchasing a ticket at their website. By checking their website you’ll see the artist available this year; don’t be afraid to try something new and to appreciate the talent Urbana has!

As you can tell, First Friday is just a brief taste of what Urbana has to offer. Local artists, musicians, food vendors and the community itself comes together to celebrate the pride we have in our small and unique town we have.

Next month, try coming for yourself with the new theme “Notable Women of Urbana Fashion Show!”

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