First Friday of November. MetroJacksonville contributor, Robb Tabone reporting on the ground from the spaces and about the artists of this month's event!
I'd never been to a Five Points First Friday before, I had always heard they were mediocre but most of the time not even that. The night started early and with much skepticism as nothing was happening. When I asked the gentleman at Five Points Antiques what to expect he said he didn't think I'd have much to cover on art unless I was into paint by numbers. Disheartened, I meandered through Five Points for about an hour and a half of so until the sun went down, that's when the wine came out and with it the people.
First Friday occurs as the name suggest on the first Friday of every month. If you decide to head over I'd recommend showing up later than the suggested 5, around 7:30 or 8 as that's when the wine, music and people come out. Most of the businesses stay open till the crowd slims down which occurred around 11. Despite my first few inspections, one of which was some paintings of what resembled mermaid earth mothers, there were several gems to be found through out the evening.
Anna McClennen @ Flat File
Flat File Gallery broke the night's mood nicely. The work of UNF adjunct instructor Anna McClellan hung in what was once the back alley to the stage of the Five Points Theater. Owners Chris and Calder Yates managed to fix the place up into quite the respectable back alley. Together they have hung three shows so far for each First Friday. Their focus has been photography but McCellans work, 2-D mixed media, represents the beginning of a wider variety of shows for Flat File. McCellan's work is nothing too profound, but it is pleasing to the eye. She showed several large sketches with charcoal, colored pencil and graphite, most of which depicted Rhododendron. While her technical skill can be respected, the plant life grew tiresome and repetitive. However she did display two ink washes I was rather fond of, perhaps because of the evident meticulous seeming nature of process they had to them.
Along the side walks were various local clothing companies selling their new series. From Springfield the Burro and Zombie Bikes gang with a few new bags and shirts, Riverside represented by Arturo with their hipster geared swag, and Tact which I had never heard of but was dealing bags, shirts, and a few pillows.
Derek Des Islet with lady friend Linda
Then at Five Points Coffee where the work of Derek Des Islet hung. He described it as older work, mostly surreal still life or landscape. There were a few with 3-D elements, one in particular made use of a suspended light bulb. Overall the older stuff doesn't compare much to the new stuff I've seen from Des Islet, much of which is a bit to intense for some Jacksonville spaces. He's been censored a few times, notably for painting frontal nudity---almost inconceivable in an environment like five points. I like his work, he will be an interesting Jacksonville artist to watch progress.
Matt Allison: Stratagies for Making Time Stand Still @ The Underbelly
The night ended in Shea Slemmer's new space The Underbelly, hidden behind a book case in the clothing store Anomaly. It was $10 to get in but that got two drink tickets, a $5 off coupon for Anomaly and a nifty homemade Underbelly wristband. Set up like a suave speakeasy with two bars, the space showcased the rare assemblage art of Matt Allison. The work that took up most of the open wall space was entitled Stratagies For Making Time Stand Still. Allison explains it as an exploration into the moment before control is lost. The piece was presented with copies of a brief set of directions for guests to take.
-Embellish something to keep from having to face truth
It to get a larger sense of
it. Do anything to keep from
The piece itself is a collection of things some seeming deeply personal, others irrelevantly random. It was arranged in a corner with a affect feeling of a frozen balloon, almost as if Allison were mimicking the way in which it would be viewed in one instant remembered in the next. It was escaping. I wish more Jacksonville artists would experiment with installation and assemblage art.
Your Humble Narrator w/ Shea Slemmer @ the Underbelly
The Underbelly was for sure the favorite of the night. Shea Slemmer, owner of the now defunct Flux Gallery, said The Underbelly might be a smaller space but it has the same big goal. She wants to give Jacksonville's artists a reason to stay here, "Why can't Jacksonville be the Southern center of contemporary art? We all need to intergrate, There needs to be reasons to stay."
Slemmer stressed the need for the community to support galleries in order aid Jacksonville in thickening the core of it's blossoming art scene. Much of the talks of the night centered around the need for support, hard work and networking. Events like First Friday are great places to find/build all of that, but in the end it comes down to what will be done with it.
by Robb Tabone