First Fridays event catching on in Rifle |

First Fridays event catching on in Rifle

Will Grandbois

Friday is almost always art day somewhere, with art walks in different are cities and towns.

Rifle and Carbondale share the traditional first Friday slot, while Glenwood Springs and Basalt have second Friday and Silt celebrates on the last Friday.

Wearing various hats, George Cutting is involved in several, and is committed to making them thrive. He operates the Crack in the Wall Gallery in Silt and is a member of Cooper Corner in Glenwood.

“My philosophy is make your community strong and your businesses in that community will thrive,” he said.

So, when he was appointed president of Rifle’s Bookcliffs Art Center two years ago, he pushed for a monthly community event devoted to art.

“I wanted to involve the arts center in the community and involve the community in the arts,” he explained.

He wasn’t too concerned with competing with Carbondale’s already well-established First Friday event.

“First Friday is an accepted evening all over the country to do art receptions, and I think we’re distant enough that we’re not … taking away from Carbondale’s energy,” he said. “It’s really working. Rifle is now a happening First Friday. All the businesses come together for a common goal to get people out. The restaurants are all packed, Miller Dry Goods is staying open late, Blush Salon is staying open late.”

More of those businesses are also integrating local art in their own spaces in an effort to be part of the event and engage people with something new. The library is often involved as well, though this week the new display is in Silt, not Rifle.

The openings themselves take place from 5 to 7 p.m. This round, the Bookcliffs will feature local photographer Amber Nicole Norton. With the final show in Rifle’s Hilltop Summer Concert Series slated for Thursday, it also marks the shift from outdoor to indoor events, though a local musician may be there to brighten up the October First Friday

Catered hors d’oeuvres will be provided, but all events at Bookcliffs are alcohol free, both because the venue is less walkable and to be family friendly.

“If we don’t keep our kids excited in the community they grew up in, they’re going to all leave,” Cutting noted.

Midland Arts downtown also stays open late with refreshments. The gallery has six partners and draws from 50 local artists. In the long run they’re hoping to have a featured artist each month. The newest consignment artist is Ava Lanes of Parachute, a photographer with a distinct printing style.

“I’ve started to take my own and others photographs and put them on other mediums,” she explained. “There’s so many people that are good with digital photography, why not expand?”

Lanes, who runs her photography, printing and framing business via, has experimented with canvas, acrylic and resin and is particularly fond of metal.

“The clarity and resonance just pops,” she said. “It almost looks like it’s backlit.”

Of course, as important as artists are to an art walk, the most important ingredient is the community.

“It’s the people showing a desire to get out and see what’s going on that makes it work,” Cutting observed.

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