The somewhat surprising success of Ventura’s First Fridays

First Friday–an event that was born out of artist’s frustration with the lack of art-centered activities in the new art city and a natural desire among artists to create something organically and communally for everyone to share in–has been plugging along for a good year, and it’s beginning to look like the sleeper hit of the local arts scene.

It’s amazing (or not) what can be accomplished through desire and heart and without a real budget. Last weekend’s First Friday event was absolutely abuzz with people at all the participating venues and everyone seemed excited about not only what they were experiencing via the actual art, but through conversation and community throughout the evening.

Of particular note is the current exhibit at Bell Arts and Vita Art, “March” a juried exhibition featuring works by female artists from all over Southern California, which opened that evening. The exhibit, at least from a woman’s perspective, is quite evocative, as it explores themes of identity, sexuality, self-esteem, morality, civil rights and motherhood. Most poignant is a 3-dimensional work with a piece of unfinished knitting that speaks to both the wholesome, nurturing and peaceful aspect of  the craft of knitting and its  horrible, hidden side: the abortions that many women were forced to perform on themselves using their knitting needles, when their seemed to be no options.

This exhibit will be up through the end of the month and will feature a diverse slate of women speakers each week.

Sylvia White Gallery always offers something thought provoking on First Friday as well with performance art led by veteran artist John White.

Every First Friday seems to get better than the previous ones, and much of the art for sale is relatively affordable. With WAV open and on board for these events, it will only continue to grow and flourish.

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