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Get acquainted with Winnipeg's trendiest district on the first Friday of every month

 

On Friday, September 4th, I was on a pretty hot date in the Exchange. Winnipeg's Exchange District is one of the better places to take your date on any night of the week, but on Friday, Sept. 4th, there happened to be 20 or so galleries, studios and local businesses open to the public (not to mention it was Le Burger Week, which my date and I celebrated with a sweet-pork roast belly patty sandwiched between 2 glazed Bronuts donuts: a billion thanks to King + Bannatyne for that experience).


First Fridays in the Exchange is a fantastic idea - introduced by artists Sue Gordon and Karen Schulz, the event offers public access to 50 or so downtown galleries and shops during the first Friday of every month, year round.

Photo Cred: Winnipeg Free Press

 

Celebrating 5 years, First Fridays is a great way to experience the Exchange District, and explore the culture of Downtown.


Aside from the Art Talk/Art Walk at the Winnipeg Free Press News Cafe, all of venues are free entry and self-guided tours.
There are typically around 20 (out of approximately 50 participating) venues featured from 5-9 PM every first Friday, which makes it difficult to choose just a few. My strategy: I chose a street and stuck to it.
Here are some of the eclectic, weird, and classy studios I discovered on McDermot Ave.


Warehouse Artworks (or Soul Gallery) earned gold stars for featuring live music and free wine. I also stumbled across one really interesting photograph, by fine arts photographer Chris Brown (no, not the Chris Brown). The photo, entitled 'Red Blue Walking' features a lady walking with a blue umbrella, but the scene is reflected in a ceiling mirror, creating a warped look.


In his artist's statement, Brown says:
"I am interested in exploring the energy we perceive in images. Sometimes it is obvious and intense, like a wave crashing onto a rocky shore. Other times it is more subtle, perhaps just one or two lines guiding our perceptions. A first glance reveals only the objects in a work of art. Often I remove these easily identifiable objects because it is not what I want the viewer to see. Long, quiet moments with abstract elements uncover much more: relationships, emotions, insights, not just in the art but in the viewer as well."

Brown happened to be standing right behind me as I ogled his print. He introduced himself, told me about his work, and went on to share a bit about why he thinks Winnipeg is such a great city for artists.
"Winnipeg has such a unique sense of community, I think it has something to do with our winters - the claustrophobia almost forces us to be more creative."
The cold weather definitely fosters a kind of comradery, which comes time and again in my own conversations with artists, and those on which I eavesdrop. The love/hate relationship that many of us experience toward this city encourages our communities, especially our artistic communities, to band together and create new, vibrant spaces.
First Fridays a prime example of the effort to do this very thing - creating opportunities for artists to share their work with the public, and allowing the public to creatively engage in the cultural warmth of the city.


Among the other studios I visited were the Ace Art and Urban Shaman Gallery on the 2nd floor of 290 McDermot Ave., and the Lennard Taylor pop up shop (featuring the coolest leather holsters and one very alive window model).

  

For more details visit firstfridayswinnipeg.org

 

Photo Cred: Sara Krahn

 

 

 

Sara Krahn is a freelance contributor for Classic 107. She is a recent graduate of the Canadian Mennonite University School of Music and a newlywed. Sara is out and about taking in a many summer events as she can - don't be shy, say 'Hello!' if you see her!