First First Friday
The First First Friday
The First First Friday of 2014 was cool!…well, really, it was cold. Really cold. And in spite of all the traditional Canadian folklore that presents us as hearty, winter-loving, folks; the normal street action was eerily absent tonight. Perhaps most were still recovering from that jolly street party on New Year’s Eve. Nevertheless, there were some relatively cultural hot spots.
The Lawrence House opened their annual Floyd Gibson Show of emerging local artists to a full house with the usual cornucopia of fine arts and the Mayor presenting his annual award. At Cheeky Monkey, “ESP” raised the tempo of the audience with some up-beat rock’n fare. Local restaurants were busy serving up (and pouring) the heat to the huddled masses. Zony’s drew a modest crowd for cosmetic makeup and some eclectic works.
Regrettably, the JNAAG was closing their retrospective of Ontario arts from the 1970’s, and “Are You My Mother”, an interesting collection of old machinery meets Victorian furniture. Some exhibit halls were closed. Attendance was sparse. Bill Walters excellent impressionist works were sadly neglected at The Urban Nature Centre.
First Friday has earned its reputation as THE regular public urban cultural event in downtown Sarnia. Like all cultural events they require continual renewal to make them fresh and keep the patrons coming back for more. Cold weather can strip away the façade that fine weather brings and lay bare the bones of the current state of a community. In a small four block stretch, the evolution of a critical mass of cultural attractions can only be accomplished with the cooperation and coordination of all the players big and small. Big players, like the JNAAG, the Lawrence House, the Imperial and the Sarnia Library need to make this the opening dates for their shows and movies. Purveyors of hospitality as a whole becomes effectively another “big player” as their venues collectively continue to offer musical entertainment and a variety of fine libations. Tonight was a missed opportunity for retail stores to band together to promote a post-holiday collective winter clearance sale. They need to be open to take advantage of customers and fill the gaps between larger venues with an active presence. To the owner of the vacant building north of the JNAAG, kudos for the distinctive lighting and street music. Hopefully, the downtown merchants will band together and extend the sound and light show for next year, and why not all year. Finally, one can only imagine the possibilities that could have occupied the three block long heated concourse of that sleeping giant – the Bayside Mall.
David Lavender is a local architect with an international practice. Your comments are welcome via twitter to @LavenderArch, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org