Tuesday, Sep 26, 2017

Fourth year for 4th Fridays

April 24 marks the fourth year for 4th Fridays, a monthly art event at the Starline Gallery.

The highly attended exhibition at 306 W. Front St. runs from 6 to 9 p.m., drawing 600 to 1,000 visitors each month from January to August with a grand finale in October. There is a $5 cash fee at the door. 4th Fridays fills three floors of the renovated historic Starline Factory building featuring a live band, open Starline artists’ studios and a variety of art and exhibits on each floor from Starline and guest artists. The main floor hosts the juried mixed-art exhibit and the featured artist solo show, which will be Joe Isacson this month. Other performing artists include John Ballantyne’s CrazyHeart, Big Fish and Paige Hargrove.

A project more than a decade in the making, 4th Fridays is a “fresh and fun” community event created and produced by fine-art photographer Nancy Merkling, who is assisted by a team of more than 90 volunteers. As a young teen, Merkling started exhibiting and attending art exhibit events. However, she said she always walked away feeling that the community and experience was a little “flat” and “boring.” She began to keep a notebook to document what she liked and disliked at each event, which provided her with guidelines to build her own successful art show.

After starting in April 2011, 4th Fridays has been a hit. Merkling said each event brings something new and interesting, whether it is a certain theme for the evening or an entertaining display like a flashmob dance. Every month also features a piece of installation art, which is art created for a specific site, often incorporating materials or physical features of the site.

“We’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing and making it better and better,” Merkling said.

Merkling said one of the main focuses of 4th Fridays is to build a community that appreciates art and supports local artists. Each month, several pieces of art are sold at the event. She said the 4th Fridays team encourages families to start a budget for original art purchases. She said families should shop together to learn about the art and make purchases to enjoy at home.

“What we have found is that collecting original artwork is like eating potato chips,” Merkling said. “You can’t stop with just one.” Merkling said, overall, the mission of the event is to cultivate a community of artists, people who appreciate art, gallery owners and art buyers.

“Art is important,” Merkling said. “If we removed all the art from the world, we would have white walls and square buildings. There would be no bay windows, no exciting entrances, there would be nothing, no landscaping. So, it’s very important for people to understand that life is better with art. The reason they should go to the event is because their life revolves around art whether or not they realize it.”

For information, visit nancymerkling.com or the event Facebook page at 4th Fridays at TheStarline. Exhibitors should email nancy@nancymerkling.com.