First Thursday Strategies

The Seattle Weekly has an article this week on The Bemis Building, an artist filled live/work building near the Pioneer Square area of downtown Seattle. The main gist of the article discusses the lack of foot traffic they get during the First Thursday gallery walk, due in part because the hive activity spirals out around the Occidental Square blocks of Pioneer Square. Parking is a bitch downtown at best and I am pretty sure baseball/football games are not planned with art appreciators in mind. Last Thursday a Mariner’s game was just getting out as First Thursday was about to start, leaving the area a sea of stalled cars right around the time people were getting off work and coming to the galleries.

“Abstract painter Don Rissler, who shares a loft with his wife, photographer Kara J. Higgins, agrees that getting the Art Walk crowd to the Bemis has been an uphill battle. “We’ve basically done lots of ads in Art Access, which is your basic guide for most people doing First Thursday, but it’s not within easy walking distance of Pioneer Square,” he says, adding that parking availability in the area depends largely on whether or not there’s a Seahawks or Mariners game.”- Seattle Weekly.

One thing about Seattle is the bizarre scheduling of First Thursday in not-so-close pockets of the city. Art Radio Seattle discussed in theirJuly 31st broadcast the newly sanctioned Capitol Hill Arts Walk…occurring on the First Thursday of the month. A small personal confession about Capitol Hill is having been a driver for just over two years, my parallel parking skills stink, so I don’t go there a frequently as I could (The Frye with its glorious free parking lot an exception). Any one who has taken a bus around Seattle knows its not the speediest option (although with gas prices soaring…that Metrocard is looking real good again).
Ballard holds a Second Saturday Art Walk, which is good, but unfortunately the Nordic Heritage Museum participates in First Thursday. Such is life.

Belltown, where one my favorite galleries in town Roq La Rue is located, tends to hold openings on the Second Friday of the month and they stay open late. Mark Mothersbaugh opening there this Friday (9/9). I just squeaked under the wire and caught Charles Kraft there last Friday, which I have to go into more detail about later, being one of the best shows to pass through Seattle this year.

When I went down to Portland’s First Thursday last winter, I found they tend to run into the same situation, many of their galleries are similarly open on the same night. A solution though is a lot of their galleries stay open longer, some even like Gallery 500 I am under the impression are almost open all night (I didn’t stay long enough to fact check that one). When a van load of PDXers came up to Seattle this last spring to see Laura Fritz’s exhibit at SOIL, they were pretty dismayed after getting stuck in hell traffic and finding almost all the spaces closing at 8pm, a few minutes after their arrival.

For more on the topic, Seattlest is another site who is covering the exhibits around town.

Mr. Vroom of Vroom Journal is always covering topical events- my best local art news comes through my headphones walking my dog now that Art Radio Seattle is in existence.

And Bre Pettis, who we spoke of last week and fellow art goer Daniel Mountshave been attending First Thursdays for years together- Bre always files a good tip off of shows to see the next day.


Footnote to yesterdays post:

Marja-Leena has a great post on Marimekko from her site yesterday, and being originally from Finnland has some nice memories of the fabric.