Once a month, art aficionados flock to Santa Cruz for the monthly First Friday Art Tour. This Friday, they will do so for the 100th time.
Any venue in town can choose to display artists on First Friday. This year’s venues range from the Felix Kulpa Gallery downtown to the Chimera Tattoo Studio and Gallery on the Westside.
“Whatever your criteria is for art, you’ll be able to find it here in Santa Cruz County,” said Chip, executive director of the Downtown Association and co-director of First Fridays. “We have an extraordinary wealth of talented artists in all realms of creativity.”
Among the more than 60 local artists participating are a number of UC Santa Cruz students.
In conjunction with artist and UCSC alumna Katerina Lanfranco’s “Natural Selection” show in the Porter College Sesnon Gallery, her team of student assistants are displaying their own works as part of UCSC’s Pop Up Art Project. The pieces displayed were inspired by their collaboration with Lanfranco and are executed in her paper-cutting style. Students designed their own square panels of Tyvek paper, which will be showcased in the storefront of the Rittenhouse Building on Pacific Avenue.
“[The squares] form a diverse group of works that share the basic technique of cutting paper, and carry an interesting narrative when read together,” said Sesnon Gallery manager Mark Shunney.
Shunney said that this kind of collaboration is an important step for connecting the UCSC artist base to the wider Santa Cruz art scene.
“Now that we have space in the Rittenhouse Building, we can be part of the downtown buzz for First Friday,” she said.
One of the Pop Up Art Project’s artists, Kresge fourth-year art major Dmitri Zurita, said that as a bilingual artist, much of his inspiration was drawn from defining words to describe human emotions as they are expressed in a public space.
In this way art in the city can “invite the viewer to question many things about the experiential aspects of life,” Zurita said.
His piece for the Rittenhouse exhibition is comprised of three bands of text cut into the words: “The shared look between two people reluctant to initiate something they both desire.”
Cruzioworks will display work from student artists alongside that of downtown locals. Community events organizer Krissie Olson said Cruzioworks’ goal is to connect students and the larger public with this show.
“We really want people to feel as though they are part of a greater community,” Olson said.
The theme, “Perpetual Movement with Students and Fish,” lends itself to varying inspirations for Cruzioworks student artists.
Fourth-year Katelynn Mills said her art strives to find the meaning in meaninglessness. Mills’ paintings are pieces of darkness and turmoil, with light splatters contrasted over dark strokes.
“For me, the art making process is a mission to save myself from the chaos and destruction posed by today’s society on a physical, mental, political and environmental level,” Mills said.
Porter College fourth-year art major Joshua Carrenca, another UCSC student whose work will be featured at Cruzioworks, said his inspiration for “Electronic Sentinel” came from a dream — which he says is the best inspiration for surreal art. The painting depicts a rigid figure with a robot body, his floating human head in a television screen. He guards stolidly over a barren wasteland with an unattached computer mouse in hand.
“Each artist has a voice and vision that is plainly theirs, and that’s what makes the show here so fun and interesting to organize,” said Cruzioworks events organizer Olson, pointing out the value of unique pieces being displayed together.
First Friday co-director Chip hopes the event’s fan base will continue to grow.
“The focus for me,” he said, “is really celebrating and illuminating the incredible creative talent that we have in this community.”
With 57 venues hosting art displays across the county, the 100th annual First Friday will be giving away a $100 prize for the purchase of art. Participants post a favorite memory from any First Friday event to the Facebook event page in order to be eligible. There will also be a reception at the Museum of Art and History at 6 p.m. with a mayoral proclamation.
First Friday enthusiasts can access artist biographies, showcase information and venue location on the First Friday Santa Cruz application for the iPhone.
The Pop Up student artists will also be available to discuss their work in the Sesnon Gallery on Friday from 2-4 p.m. and again later from 5-9 p.m.
First Friday will commence at 12 p.m. and end at 9 p.m. An interactive map of First Friday venues can be found here. The Rittenhouse Pop Up Art Project will be displayed until May 4 and Cruzioworks will keep their student art open to the public until June 1.