Whether you are an arts and music lover, or you simply enjoy the nightlife of San Antonio, First Friday is an escapade specially crafted for you. What began in 1994 as a walkthrough of local art galleries has progressed into a collection of restaurants with diverse menus, up and coming artists and new vendors. On the first Friday of every month, you can experience this vibrant introduction of local businesses and a taste of San Antonio culture. With the festivities starting at the Blue Star Arts Complex and continuing down South Alamo Street, there is always something to admire. The exposure that this event provides to local businesses plays a pivotal role in their success. First Friday brings a variety of people to explore the authenticity of downtown San Antonio from vintage thrift shops to establishments hosting live music. As lights and smiles decorated the night, I began my walkthrough and started gathering my insights about First Friday.
“First Friday is so good for local businesses. It brings in new people and lots of tourists and that really helps us grow as a collective,” said Robert Tatum, the owner of Choice Goods (a business in the Blue Star Arts Complex).
Upon first sight, the streets of downtown San Antonio were flooded with people, and curiosity lit up the dark corners leading to South Alamo Street. Gallery owners sat outside their buildings in hopes that people would venture in and gander at the beautifully displayed works of art.. While I walked towards the festivities, I was kindly greeted by gallery owner and curator Rubio, whose First Friday consisted of introducing a nude compositional study by emerging artist Gregory Alan. At first glance, it was clear to me that Alan had a way with his camera that captured the raw and undying nature of the human body, while abolishing the societal norm pushed upon women about the sensuality of their form. After appreciating the works by Alan that encompassed the captivating beauty of the female guise through the implementation of light and shadows, I spoke with Rubio about his work in the San Antonio community. His genuine demeanor peaked through as he explained that he was a high school art teacher and found a love for helping developing artists in his community.
“My specialty is discovering undiscovered artists in my community. I provide them with visibility and a nurturing introduction,” Rubio said when asked about contributing to the success of these young artists.
By pushing for their success, Rubio aids emerging artists in the process of meeting professionals and potential buyers. It was easy to see Rubio’s passion for running his two galleries and vouching for the discovery of these hardworking individuals.
After an enlightening conversation, I resumed my walk and turned onto the corner of South Alamo Street. Music and unified voices complemented the alluring art show put on by Planned Parenthood. The soft lighting served as a welcoming introduction to the heavy topics displayed in the works of art along the walls. The march toward reproductive justice was an obvious theme in this gallery, and my assumptions were proven right when a woman dressed in pink told me a story about her own reasons for fighting for well-deserved justice. She was excited about meeting people who wanted to change the narrative she lived in.
“In the 70s, I tried to get birth control and they made me ask for my boyfriend’s permission. I’m not even sure I had a boyfriend!” She exclaimed with a chuckle.
There were many galleries and works of art that evoked different emotions within their audiences, like the Blue Star Contemporary with artists Amanda Miller, Andrei Renteria, Ethel Shipton and Jared Theis. These modern artists and many like them allowed abstract thoughts to fill every single room, and just as I had imagined the same process would occur each time, I walked into a different gallery along South Alamo Street. With each gallery, vendor and restaurant I walked through, I had a unique experience that only made me want to attend First Friday every month for as long as I live in San Antonio.