Tag Archives: First Friday

Las Vegas’ New Art Junkie Mecca?

Believe it or not, Las Vegas does have a Downtown Arts District.  Yesiree, and, not only that, but they are offering up a second showing of cultural artsy-fartsy festivities with the inauguration of Third Friday this Friday, Jan. 15, starting around 6 p.m., running until approximately midnight. 

Following the footsteps of the economically challenged First Friday, now Las Vegans have the added opportunity to browse art galleries, enjoy the bands and mingle amongst fellow art fanatics twice a month — doubling the pleasure and doubling the fun- if not immediate income to producers. 

Taking place on the same Las Vegas streets and benefiting the same cause, Third Friday may be similar to First Friday in many ways, but it’s projected to vary slightly. 

While Cindy Funkhouse, of the Funk House and Fallout galleries, runs the beginning of the month installment, Cion Noble of the Box Office gallery and venue is coordinating this middle-of-the-month run. 

Hans Cewe , one of the owners of the Gypsy Den — a vintage boutique and art gallery which also triples as a music venue — is happy to see the rise of another event to bring people Downtown Las Vegas, hoping thing will expand from there. 

The Gypsy Den, also run by Cewe’s daughter Katie, will be offering up it’s stage to local bands for the night, with the lineup so far including local acts Vitamin Overdose, Close to Modern and The Marquees. 

Third Friday’s main focus is not merely on the patrons it brings Downtown, but also on the various artists involved. 

“It’s basically going to be a networking opportunity for creative people,” says Noble. “The theme is to network… I don’t anticipate vendors and crafts in the first couple of months — I’d like to see it grow into something that’s similar to First Friday eventually.” 

The mix of “creative people” so far set to ring in Third Friday’s opening night at the Box Office includes Cameron Grant, rock and blues bands Black Cherry Blue, Flux and JD Vittles, as well as a comedy improv and musical open mic event hosted by LV Freeze. 

In keeping with the idea of supporting Las Vegas arts, Funkhouse isn’t viewing the second installment as a threat. Instead she’s offering her support, “merely as a participant,” and opening her galleries’ doors — although she says the art on the walls will be the same as what’s viewed the first weekend of the month. “It’s not practical to change our show out every two weeks, that’d be too much work,” explains Funkhouse. 

If Third Friday catches on, perhaps the struggling downtown Las Vegas can look forward to a more regular crowd. Who knows, maybe a little more culture in our Sin City lives, with good eats, is a good thing.

Here’s a map of area, showing central Box Office.

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Burners Circle Mutant Wagons in Las Vegas

As a prelude to the huge Burning Man event in Black Rock City in Nevada on August 31 through September 7, the Southern Nevada burners on the First Friday event on August 7 in Las Vegas will be setting up their wild and crazy mutant vehicles that they’ve designed and built to cruise the dusty and scorching playa during Burning Man. mutantvehicle

They are planning to set up their tricked out cars in a circle on Casino Center between Colorado and California.  Then, in the inner circle, local artists will be hooping and poi spinning. 

Despite a down economy, an estimated 48,000 people are anticipated to participate in this year’s Burning Man.  The annual art event is all about the power of community, and to celebrate shared values of radical self-expression and self-reliance through art activities.   Participants express and relying on themselves to a degree that is not normally encountered in one’s day-to-day life. 

As a by-product, one can only hope that Whirlygig, the First Friday organizer, will get a much needed boost to bolster their sagging revenue.

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Las Vegas First Friday ‘Art Crawl’ Event Takes Nosedive

Selling cultural art opportunities in Las Vegas that are ostensibly designed to benefit residents, and not so much the tourists, is apparently a very difficult sell. 

‘First Friday’ in Las Vegas started in 2002 as an art crawl, or a monthly block party on the first Friday of each month that includes downtown galleries and businesses in the Las Vegas Downtown Arts District.  Art galleries were open.  Musicians would take to the sidewalks next to psychics, poets and other strolling performers.  Crowds grew from a few hundred to as many as 10,000, requiring barricades, police officers and a host of special permits. 

But now all that has changed.  No white familiar tents dotting the landscape.  No stages blasting rock music.  No crowds lining up in large lines at food vendors. 

Funding problems are causing Whirlygig, the nonprofit organization running the event, to scale back considerably.  Founder Cindy Funkhouser has been seeking money, including private donations, but not enough has resulted to keep the festival going. 

Festival costs are in excess of $13,000 a month for barricades, stages, power, lighting and permits.  Las Vegas, which is a large support of the event, contributing $80,000 a year, now concentrates that amount on just six months, when crowds are the largest, rather then the entire year.  It hoped Whirlygig would grow into a self-sustaining organization.  It didn’t. 

Funkhouser says she and her husband, Rick Dominguez, want to get back to presenting the large festival, but says “We’re just kind of winging it.  I’m just kind of at the point where this is what it is.”

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O Las Vegas! Wherefore Thou Art & Music?

bodiddley2smallcap1If you enjoy Las Vegas artisans and our local art culture and music facilities, then you have been hit squarely broadside by some very bleak cultural news this year. Cutting art and music programs, budgets, and related salaries is the order of the day. Less tourists mixed in with less local disposal incomes is becoming an all too common deadly Las Vegas economic cocktail.

Acerbated by our growing sour economy, it has been a brutal year for our community art venues. The Las Vegas Art Museum, which was once a thriving and community enriching organization, is now facing a major budget reduction of $1 million. Sadly, Libby Lumpkin, their hard-working executive director and visionary for the past three years has abruptly left, followed by a couple of other staff layoffs and hour reductions.

The monthly Las Vegas non-profit First Friday art, entertainment, and block neighborhood party event put on by Whirly Gig, Inc. is continuing to struggle with growth issues, despite their $2 entry fee, and, for the most part, is languishing in status quo. And so is the fading dream of creating a robust retro Las Vegas Arts District, resplended with galleries and restaurants.

Our local music industry has also been severely splintered and reduced to a mere skeleton of what it was in the Las Vegas heyday. The Las Vegas Philharmonic is fraught with debt issues and organizational challenges as it struggles to keep afloat and minimize their program reductions.

Ardent Las Vegas music fans and many of the local bands they once frequented are leaving town in droves. The 500-person Jillian’s music venue closed in the downtown Neonopolis in November. Ideally, it was conceived to support an all-ages music scene. It didn’t happen. The Neonopolis mall developer, Rohit Joshi, says it was closed to support another client that was to take over the space in 2009. Only time will tell. But other performers are taking their shows elsewhere, including the House of Blues, The Box Office, and Gameworks.

Throughout this year our struggling economy has brought a dismal end to many of our newer music venues including the Sin City Saloon, Squiggy’s, and Rox.

Off-Strip music venues, such as Charlie’s Bar; the enduring country music bastion, Saddle ‘N’ Spurs Saloon; and even the newly re-opened Pogo’s Tavern, featuring big band jazz groups, are trying desperately to survive, but having a hard go at it.

Music venue innovation, however, is key to the success for many local venues. Coffeehouses, such as ReJAVAnate and Canvas Café, are now quickly turning to music to bring in clients and, hopefully, boost their main business. Hopefully, this resurrection is in time to stave off future closures.

If there is another huge guiding light beacon amid our many art and music woes, pray that it will be the Smith Center for the Performing Arts. The Smith Center, listed among the 200 largest charities in the US, according to Forbes.com, is currently undertaking a $485 million project that is planned to break ground and, hopefully, take a firm foothold in our valley next year and will help to transform our cultural legacy. The center will be anchored by a 2,050-seat proscenium theater that will be a permanent performance home to the Las Vegas Philharmonic and Nevada Ballet Theatre, and include an education center with cabaret space, a smaller Black Box Theatre, outreach facilities and classroom space.

An innovative community spirit of giving is necessary to support the survival and growth of art and music venues. So, if you feel the holiday spirit of giving, please do. In lieu of cash, perhaps you can offer up your services to help with some of their projects and needs.

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