By Gabriella Lacombe, contributing writer
My dear readers, I ask you, for a moment, to imagine a venn diagram. Do not be afraid, this isn’t elementary school. The left circle is dedicated to Art. Written inside are the words “life in palpableform”, “human experience”, “passion” and “feeling”, all finger-painted in a rainbow of gouache. The right circle is dedicated to Winter. Please contain your groans of anguish, you are most likely in public. Or maybe you’re alone at home and wrapped in an afghan. Either way, try not to cry. Written inside this circle are the words “frozen hell beast”, “seasonal depression”, and “chapped everything”. And there, where the two circles of fire and ice meet, are the words, “First Friday”. An art, music and entertainment festival occurring each first Friday of the month on Broad Street here in Richmond, Virginia, First Friday is the darling of art school students and business majors alike, drawing crowds of people of all ages. I am not exaggerating when I say that, on the mornings before First Friday starts, I hear the words “First Friday” at least 15 times, just while walking down the street. However, we all know December, January, and even early February don’t mix well with fun. So why do the people who go to First Friday during the winter do so?
“I just really enjoy the exhibits and all of the new artwork, it’s always incredible,” said Sean Knowles, a Richmond resident. “After a while I don’t even notice the cold.” How brave.
“I have a friend who works at Middle of Broad, a sort of gallery and design company on Broad Street. I wanted to learn more about what she did there so I went,” said Taylor Robinson, a student at VCU. Such valor. So far, I gathered that the main weapons necessary to conquer a winter First Friday were the powers of friendship, and an impregnable will. Maybe some mittens, if you really want to give the weather the one finger (mitten) salute. For others, going to First Friday during the winter months is mostly about trying to pretend that winter isn’t stabbing you with shards of icy wind and chilling the sweat between your toes. It’s about remembering happier times. “I go anyway because there’s hope within the art for spring if that makes sense,” said Mairead Murphy, another local Richmonder. “It sucks and it’s cold but knowing that there’s this event to look forward to every month…it’s like a long-term relationship. You know even though [it’s cold]…[there will be times] to enjoy [First Friday] when it’s warm.” Remember all those times people told you the best way to get rid of a bully was to ignore them? Winter is no different. Having fun in the winter can be really difficult. In fact, I googled, “how to have fun in winter” less than two weeks ago. The results were not great. But First Friday was here when it was warm, and it will be here for you now that it’s cold, and you and First Friday are forever, baby. So be brave and throw on some layers, because you’ve got paintings to look at.