On Friday, you met Courtney Kuhn in Talker invited to the University of Rochester to talk about Talker, a collaborative piece based on my visit to a professional resource networking session held for her senior capstone Digital Media Studies class.
Later that evening I had plans to see the First Friday exhibits at the Hungerford Building. Much to my pleasant surprise, when I arrived, there was Courtney. Already at work on her first solo story! Courtney has the Talker élan.After an initiation into the secret hand sign known only to the staff, Courtney was on her way.
First Timer at First Friday, the Hungerford Building
How was my first trip to Hungerford’s on Friday? Anyone who has gone to even one First Friday Citywide Gallery Night certainly knows the answer.
Greeted by a live musical performance before the entrance, I strolled in feeling already upbeat about how the night. Taking in work by multitudes of artists, this sort of event simply immerses you in creative stimulation. Exactly what I was hoping for on Friday’s crisp summer evening.
I knew artists would be present, peddling their wares and answering questions. But I unexpectedly had the pleasure of hearing several of them discuss their work at length, far more interested in conveying their passions rather than making a quick buck. Few experiences trump watching a fellow human being express themselves so unapologetically, particularly regarding work they are proud of. It was emotional, educational, and an experience I simply cannot wait another month to have.
One of the artists I spoke with was a fairly new up-and-comer, specializing in figure drawings that captured drastic proportions and expressive features. Christopher R. Jones took the time to show me many of his pieces that were not currently on public display. He went on to describe his process and feelings towards each of his different images, making me, an ordinary onlooker, feel like I could see the human body through his eyes.
Up the stairs and around the corner, I met Brenda Erickson. Many of the works on display were encaustic, featuring elaborate collage work. I was treated to a thorough discussion about her process, including a display of her tools. Using a griddle to heat and liquify, Erickson experiments with different temperatures and dilutions of wax for her pieces. She comfortably explained how the learning process is never over and her best works are often still yielded from accidents.
One of the last artists I stumbled upon that Friday evening was Jeanne Raffer Beck. Yet again, I was privileged with a lot of personal time to speak with the artist as she explained the thematic meaning behind her pieces and how each individual collage had its own specific intention beyond the overarching theme. In the middle of the room, Beck had placed spools of the different fabrics she uses in her works and displayed them as if they were a a piece of artwork themselves. Touching the fabrics made the art both literally and figuratively more tangible to me as an onlooker, and I applaud the inclusion of raw materials in her gallery space.
Beck continued our discussion by disclosing how her experiences and memories inspired some pieces, unlocking one of the best kept secrets of any artist: What does it mean? In this case, the fragility of the mind and the fluidity of thought. An answer that added a whole level of depth to the work that I would have never appreciated in my own random meandering.
First Friday amounts to so much more than a repetitive sequence of names, picture, and price tags. It was an enlightening experience wherein personal connections and educational dialogues were the true centerpieces in a massive gallery space. I cannot wait for October 7th and I truly hope to see an ever-growing attendance for every First Friday following.