The First Friday Art Walk in July set a high bar indeed, with stunning performances by Circus Bacchus in Heritage Square and a lively grand re-opening of West of the Moon Gallery at its new spacious location on North San Francisco Street.
For First Friday, come early and stay late is always good advice as parking spots downtown fill fast, well ahead of the 6 p.m. start time for the walk.
Staying late ensures a great sunset, cooler temps, new treats as gallery owners warm up more appetizers, and the enjoyment of the raucous crowds cutting loose on both sides of the railroad tracks as the night wears on.
Summer Art Walks are some of the best-attended of the whole year and this one sets the stage for the arrival of the Prelude exhibit at Coconino Center for the Arts (opening Aug. 11), which samples the artists and work featured in the annual Flagstaff Open Studio self-guided tour (Aug. 25 and 26).
The August Art Walk also continues the summer tradition of mixing visitors with locals, all rambling along our sidewalks and streets downtown, ducking in and out of various venues to escape rain and mingle with friends, new and old alike.
Here are a few First Friday standouts to visit from 6 to 9 p.m., although all the listed participant locations are fun and fascinating.
Speaking of staying dry and warm, with the full force of the monsoon rains here, it’s possible to be actually a bit cold at night—all the more reason to visit Fire on the Mountain, the glass-blowing studio of the exuberant glass artist, George Averbeck.
Billed as the “Hottest place to hang,” the studio’s three furnaces burn at about 2,100 degrees 24/7.
“We had one that stayed on continuously for six years, pretty much,” says Averbeck, who is noted for his wicked sense of humor.
During the course of First Friday, about 200 to 300 people cram into the hot studio in shifts.
“I’m never at a lack for words,” he says. “It’s really fun to be involved with everybody here.”
The theme for the evening at the studio is “Summer Showers and Fire Flowers,” very fitting as Averbeck will be fashioning sunflowers in hot glass.
Finished sunflowers will be offered for sale at Arizona Handmade Gallery (13 N. San Francisco), which Averbeck owns with his wife, Holly Gramm, who says they had 1,800 visitors at the gallery during the July Art Walk.
Averbeck and his pals, Joe Bozzelli and Nicole Webber, will be giving hot-glass demonstrations for visitors, interspersed with funny quips. 324 W. Birch, in the rear building. 774-9025
To enjoy more shimmering art, visit the gallery space of the Artists’ Coalition of Flagstaff downtown where the work of Monica Saaty has been held over due to popular demand.
Saaty’s photography made a stir last month at Art Walk, says Mike Frankel, president of the coalition.
“Her work is spectacular,” says Frankel. “She came to us as a student a year or two ago. She did really well. This is kind of the return of the prodigal. We had our best First Friday in July because of her work.”
Saaty uses unusual and experimental techniques, he adds.
Her photographic prints utilize dyes directly infused onto aluminum sheets to give prints a unique, vibrant and almost three-dimensional quality.
“She’s willing to go out on a limb, and she’s a very pleasant young lady, too,” says Frankel.
The photographer uses clever viewing perspectives to look at landscapes that have been seen many times.
“She’ll have the same scene magnified in a sphere on her work, with dramatic lighting,” explains Frankel, “and she combines that with large-scale, metal dye transfer prints that make the colors just pop out off the metal.”
Dropping by the coalition gallery will also give a chance to view the mural-in-progress along the walls outside the art space. Frankel says the mural should be finished by September and has been accomplished with help from many ACF members.
This is a new member show with refreshments and raffle. 13 N. San Francisco, #103. 522-6969
In an Olympics sort of mood?
Well, swing into action and get to South Mikes Pike where these adjoining businesses will be hosting the first-ever Summer Bike Games, featuring a string of zany bicycle competitions, starting at 5 p.m. with some individual events such as a tire-changing competition.
An art element at the brewery will be Route 66 photography by Larry Lindahl in conjunction with the publication of “Arizona Kicks on Route 66,” by Lindahl and Roger Naylor.
Michael Marquess, chief beer officer, says there will be copies of the new book for sale on the premises.
“Satchmo’s [barbecue restaurant] is bringing his smoker over, too,” says Marguess. “And we’ll be serving beer on both ends.”
Beers for the evening will include Painted Racer (ESB), Gold Road (Kolsch-style ale) and Lost Highway Black-eyed IPA.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun down here!” he adds.
Competition is open to everyone, and C.J. Constantopoulos, owner of Flag Bike Rev, says there will be a lot of bike events, including a sprint race, wheelie competition, stationary bike races (if weather outside is bad) and a really fun Strider race, featuring little kid bikes with no pedals.
Plans also call for an Alpine Pedaler race, with Flagstaff’s first and only 14-passenger human powered party on wheels
“They’ll be a slow race, too, where people can’t put their foot down,” he adds.
If it rains, they’ll bring everyone inside.
“The serious will race outside anyway,” he says.
Mother Road, 7 S. Mikes Pike. 774-9139. Bicycle Revolution, 3 S. Mikes Pike. 774-3042
Heritage Square in the heart of downtown will come alive again as the Summer on the Square project, sponsored by Flagstaff Cultural Partners, continues Friday during the Art Walk with performances by Circus Bacchus, the Sambatuque drum band and enthusiastic actors from the Flagstaff Youth Theater.
The adult team at FYT has just finished a highly successful run of “Seussical the Musical” at Flagstaff High School and will give lively demonstrations of their acting skills in the square. www.culturalpartners.org/heritagesquare.htm
Art Walkers remember: Entire downtown Flagstaff becomes the destination during First Friday, where admission is free and everyone is welcome.