First FridayYou may not think of Grand Rapids, Minnesota as a location for cultural events, but think again! Grand Rapids is home to many talented performance artists, potters, painters, musicians, and multi media artists.  Throughout the year there are many arts & culture events in Grand Rapids.  One of our well established arts event in Grand Rapids is the First Friday Art Walk that takes place the first Friday of each month.

Beginning of First Friday Art Walk in Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids Arts celebrates 2 year anniversary of First Friday Art Walk in Grand Rapids. Guest Blogger, Kathy Dodge, Grand Rapids Arts Members and Chair of Grand Rapids Arts Commission, shares the story of the First Friday Art Walk in Grand Rapids.

Back in the day, pre-2011, the Itasca Orchestra and Strings Program got a call from the Educational Outreach Director of the Minnesota Orchestra. Mele Willis said she would like to come and interview a team of people from tourism, arts, government, faith communities, etc. to investigate the possibility of bringing the Minnesota Orchestra to Grand Rapids for one solid week! OMG! Needless to say, the team enthusiastically assembled. We were told we were in competition with other rural towns, so the team went to work shining its shoes and putting on its Sunday best to attract the musicians of the MO. It worked. We were chosen.

Immediately, we went to work to plan for the week with an even more fabulous steering committee. Some of us thought the MO should leave a lasting legacy after the residency. We thought of sculptures, gardens and other works of art that would require funding. Meanwhile MacRostie Art Center, Frame Up and other businesses were experimenting with the idea of art openings all happening at the same time, the first Friday of each month. The summer of 20ll was the FF soft opening. The concept seemed to be working. The light bulb went on and it was decided that the very first official First Friday would be launched the Friday before the Minnesota Common Chords residency. Ever since it has been going strong with more and more businesses hosting artists and musicians.

Uncommon Loons Theatre Group

Performance Artists, Uncommon Loons Theatre Group, perform at a First Friday event.

First Friday Art Walk Today

Last week’s First Friday, November 7, was the opening of deer season. It was rainy, cold and windy, the type of night to stay at home under a blanket with a hot toddy. Instead people came out in droves to stop by the MacRostie Art Center, Bender’s Shoes, The Yarn Gallery, Stained Glass with Class, Old Central School Marketplace and its Artists in Residence, True North Salon and Spa, VFW Post 120, Jenny & Company, Wings ‘N Willows Art Gallery and Custom Framing, Mississippi Diamond Jewelers, Frame Up, Flowers by Jeannie, Brewed Awakenings and the Judy Garland Museum.

Grand Rapids is not alone. You can find Boston celebrating First Night on January 1. Portland, Oregon and Austin, Texas are known for First Thursdays, and Bemidji has its own First Friday. Here’s to the arts for bringing together business, tourism and culture together!

Winter First Friday Art Walk

Grand Rapids Arts First Friday Art Walk warms the soul.

December First Friday Event

On December 5, Santa will light the city’s lights at the Old Central School Marketplace. Santa will also be available for pictures with children. The participating businesses will be hosting artists of all types in their business for the opportunity to enjoy local artwork, taste some samples, and enjoy the festive spirit of the holiday season.  This is a great time to purchase one of a kind gift items for everyone on your list.  Grand Rapids Arts has also partnered with area attraction sites to participate in the December First Friday event that will highlight their holiday events and programs.

Start your weekend winter getaway right by starting it with the First Friday Art Walk in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.  Grand Rapids has unique shopping and dining and wonderful lodging facilities that are known for their grand hospitality. Check out additional resources on the Grand Rapids Art and Culture, and Grand Rapids area lodging options.