ALBANY: 1st Fridays are for fun

After taking note of the events that have sprouted in big cities like New York, San Francisco and Boston, that celebrate and showcase each city's unique artistic culture, Michael Weidrich decided it was time for Albany to start showing its true colors.

The local artist and board member of the Upstate Artists Guild sat down with his fellow board members and from that meeting, 1st Friday was born.

The monthly event, which aims to bring the local community together in celebration of Albany's unique art scene, made its debut in September, with just three participating galleries, The Upstate Artists Guild, Romaine Brooks and Amrose Sable.

Less than a year later, the event has grown to include virtually every gallery in Albany, including the state museum and the Albany Institute of History and Art. In May, 1st Friday attracted more than 1,000 visitors, which Weidrich sees as a huge accomplishment.

It's a great continuum of the arts, from the smallest gallery to the biggest museum, he said. "We're all together for one evening, showing the city and the Capital District just what a rich cultural resource this city is."

Lucy Larner, director of sponsorship at the state museum, made the decision to get involved with 1st Friday because it was a chance to bring new audiences to the museum, including those who can't normally visit during daytime hours.

"We wanted them to get to know us better, and it's also an opportunity to show them that the museum supports the arts and culture and that we are definitely a part of the arts and culture scene," she said.

The state museum opens its doors late on 1st Fridays, from 5 to 9 p.m., with light refreshments, and an exclusive exhibit each month. For May it was "Look "Alikes" artist Joan Steiner; for June it's the Best of SUNY Student Art Exhibition, which features the 75 pieces selected from 200 works in the fall and spring SUNY student art shows.

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