The first Friday of every month, the downtown Las Vegas Arts District opens its doors to the community and visitors alike at the city’s largest regular exhibition of visual and performing arts, also known oddly enough as…you guessed it: First Friday.
Save yourself the hassle of parking downtown and leave your car at either the Clark County Government Center or the El Cortez Hotel. From there, I’d recommend you start your maiden voyage through the district at one of the main hubs of activity, either The Funk House on Casino Center or The Arts Factory on Main and Charleston. The Arts Factory is a two-story building with more than 20 galleries and arts of all mediums on nearly every surface. If it gets a little too claustrophobic (nice weather brings out larger crowds), head to the back patio, grab a hot dog and a drink and hope for a seat so you can listen to the live music. We’ve caught some great blues, jazz and rock bands there.
On some nights, you can catch puppet parades, drum circles, and other performance art. You can bring your kids to this (but be prepared to respond to the “Mommy! What’s the naked lady in that picture doing to that man?” questions), or make it a grown-ups night out. The sources of the art ranges from professionally trained artists to sketches and soap carvings from local prisoners. It’s truly a creative open forum.
If you’re looking to make a purchase for your collection, you’ll find most of the prices very reasonable and artists are nearly always on hand to discuss their art and barter. The streets are often lined with jewelry craftsmen with well priced gifts to commemorate your visit.
You can easily spend all night wandering through the galleries and still never have time to see everything. That’s why they have it every month.
[Photos by Nancy Syzdek]