A piece from Dis Integration by Brian Nicholls in the March 2019 Peterborough First Friday Art Crawl. Photo by Miranda Zahra.

On the first Friday of every month, many local Peterborough artists open up their studios to welcome in the community for a free art show titled “First Friday Art Crawl”. This art night started at 129 ½ Hunter street, where you are greeted with a warm welcome from many different artists in the community, and quite a few locals who are excited about exploring local art.

Brian Nichols was one of the artists present. He shared his art collection titled “Disintegration” — a collection of broken items turned into beautiful pieces — as a way to share his struggles, having been recently diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. When talking to Nichols, he said that he finds his art to be a way to cope with his new diagnosis. However, because his art is deeply personal, highly public shows like the First Friday can be difficult. Nichols, however, emphasized that he thinks it is incredibly important to celebrate art as a community in an accessible way. Since First Friday art nights are free and are in the downtown area, Peterborough locals from all walks of life are able to enjoy what these artists have been working on.

Another incredible part of the evening was called Poetrick. Sam Sayer, from the local sandwich shop Sam’s Place, paired up with her ‘poet coworker’ Justin Million to deliver personalized poems written on site. Sayer stood outside of a door and asked questions about your life and goals in order to learn a bit about who you are and, using a ‘mental connection’ with her co-worker, Million wrote a poem based on the answers given to Sayer. This station was a fun way to keep the evening light and to open up guests, using comedy and quirky-ness. Guests were able to keep these personalized poems. This level of inclusivity applied to the night overall; it was clear that the night was meant to be a way to bring together the community to celebrate the artists and the work they have been done in Peterborough.

Justin Million of the “Poetricks” showcase on March 1, 2019. Photo by Miranda Zahra.

Going across the street to the Gallery in the Attic, the night and art continued. Quite literally in the attic of 140 Hunter street was Daniel Emmerson Crawford’s studio, which was curated for the show. Crawford’s art displayed his talent and work in many different mediums including paint, charcoal, and film projections. While it was a little isolated from the other festivities, it was a more intimate experience. Less crowding in the room allowed guests to fully appreciate the variety of complex art and design. Crawford has participated in a few First Friday art nights and noted how much he liked that these art nights allow for people to come out to enjoy art with “no expectations” for what they are going to see. Daniel explained that he sees these nights as a way to create “beautiful moments” by throwing together members of the community that would otherwise not meet. By bringing together community and providing a focal point to begin conversations, a unique experience is created. However, as incredible as the visual art was, the art did not end at the galleries.

The night moved to The Garnet further down Hunter street where a collection of bands were performing. The night included performances from Fade Awaays, Shade, Peace Sand Rest, and Belly Flop. Each of the bands had their own sound and energy that they brought to the stage, which culminated into an amazing night of live music.

Peace Sand Rest started the night off with songs ranging from upbeat folk-rock music to a good old-fashioned Irish ballad. The band mentioned that this was the first time that they were performing with their new drummer, Liam, who was able to bring his own energy and enthusiasm to the stage. From song to song, Liam danced and bopped along and mouthed the words. It was clear to see that the band had as much fun performing at The Garnet as everyone had watching them.

The Hamilton-based rock band Shade also delivered an incredible performance for their first stop on their tour. One of the members of the band, Sam Rashid, spoke fondly of art nights like the First Friday events. Sam explained that art has had a huge impact on his life and that it has worked its way into every aspect of his life. As well, Sam mentioned that nights like the First Friday Art nights are a great way to increase awareness of the art community, while bringing together a variety of people in the community to explore the arts scene. It is important to note that all of these artists were passionate about sharing their art because of how much it has impacted and changed their lives, and how much potential it has to change and help the community.

The Garnet provided an incredible venue for this celebration of music and art, allowing for the event to be one of dancing and celebrating with the community. The artists were there to share the journey they went on to create their art and to welcome you to Peterborough’s community of art enthusiasts. This event happens on the first Friday of every month, is entirely free, and showcases rotating artists. Next month’s event is on April 5, so shake things up and explore a side of Peterborough not often seen by students.