Downtown First Friday ends an artful first full year

and RUBY BRUNK, News intern

The last First Friday of 2002 is Friday from 5 to 8 p.m. in downtown Hood River. Sponsored by the Hood River Downtown Business Association and the Gorge Arts Council, First Friday brings together arts, business and community in a celebration of the talents and services of our local region. December’s event marks the finale of the first full year of First Friday celebrations, which began last fall.

“It’s been very, very successful,” said organizer Joanie Thompson said. “More than I could have ever imagined.” She said nearly all participating businesses have reported the monthly event as being “a benefit for them as far as actual sales.”

“It’s not all necessarily that night, but they’re seeing people come back in because of First Friday,” she said. Many of the artists whose work is highlighted also have indicated the event has helped them sell work as well as earn commissions.

“When I’m approached on the street (people) just tell me how much they love it because of the sense of community it creates,” Thompson said. That, she added, was one of the main goals in creating the event.

“It’s been fun to see how well it’s been accepted,” she said. Thompson also said the gatherings have drawn people to the downtown who wouldn’t normally go there — including people from the Upper Valley, White Salmon and The Dalles.

Friday’s event will highlight artists Susan Garret Crowley, Laurel Grey of Joie De Vivre and Ruth Langland displaying their work at A Salon Day Spa Boutique. Elizabeth Anderson will display her work at Gorge Dog, John Shultz at At Home on Oak Street, Karen Jacks at the Frame Gallery, and Steve and Mary Andres of Opal Color at Big Winds. Designs by Ken Apland and Kevin Craig may be seen at Apland Jewelers. The Columbia Art Gallery will be open with its ever popular show of local artists.

The evening’s music offerings include Charles Crossman at At Home on Oak Street, No Depression at 6th Street Bistro, and Bob Connelly at the Hood River Hotel. A local author, Lori Marques (“Holiday Child Safety”) will be featured at the new Columbia River Christian Bookstore.

This First Friday will be a little different as the holiday season has arrived. In addition to the regular events, caroling by the Fourth Dimension and the Community Ed Choir as well as special appearances by Santa will add to the festivities.

This month’s First Friday will feature a Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony at 6 p.m. in the Overlook Memorial Park at Second and State streets. Performances by the Fourth Dimension, The Community Ed Christmas Choir and the Shar/Lynn Duo will help welcome in the season.

Art produced by May Street Elementary students will also be featured. Nearly 30 May Street students will display their work at Summit Projects, located above Doug’s Sports. Proceeds from the sale of the artwork will go directly to the artists.

As part of the Peace Project out of Portland, children and families can create an ornament for peace in Mall 202 on Cascade Avenue. Local artists will be present to help interested people make a “Peace on Earth” ornament, which will then be donated for sale on Dec. 14. All proceeds will go to global non-profits that work with indigent third world children.

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