For a Jackson Ward resident, I've been woefully absent at recent First Fridays.
I fixed that tonight, managing to hit Candela Gallery for their mobbed Indie Photobook showcase, ADA Gallery for Geo Necro, where 86 artists collectively imagined a dungeon and Black Iris for the latest in their Tiny Bar series.
The Brian Jones Trio was set to play, the candles were lit and people filled the room to hear the piano, upright bass and drum combo expend some energy in pursuit of filling the multiple-story room with a tribute to the Purple One, a piece called "Ghost Hand" in which Brian usually plays piano but didn't and other fine examples of Friday night jazz.
Before long, pianist Daniel was unstoppable, scissoring his body to create sound, exploding off the bench with passionate playing, drummer Brian was mopping sweat off his face and head and bassist Russell was grinning with pleasure at defiant rhythmic change-ups.
The mostly young crowd bobbed their heads and yelled "Ow, ow, ow!" when things got especially good.
Not content to stop there, I went to Gallery 5 for the VCU Senior Communication Art student show, which was naturally mobbed with young VCU types.
Behind me, a man looking at Julia Moore's illustration of lizard limb regeneration asked the little girl with him, "Have you ever caught a salamander?' and when she answered in the negative, he told her that you could catch one, cut its foot off and it would grow back.
"Isn't that mean?" the child asked plaintively, but the man was already on to another piece of art. Bending down, I told her that yes, it was mean and that she should never do such a thing. Ever.
Forget stranger danger, how about Bad Dad syndrome?
But a theme for the show was emerging as I looked at Timothy Pfeiffer's "A Shooter's Mother," a haunting image of a woman hugging a hooded, black-cloaked figure holding two guns. On another wall was Alicia Wendling's Minimalistic Horror Poster series, the eyeless images staring out at the viewer. Smith's black and white-toned oil painting called "Suckers" depicted a group of WW II soldiers gambling away their earnings.
Bleak world aside aside, a few seniors had apparently escaped the doom and gloom of their nihilistic childhoods and it showed in their art, like Caroline Bivens' exquisite botanical illustrations of golden beets, which were positively life-affirming compared to limbs and murderers.
Downstairs, Atlanta's Hello Ocho's jazz-not-jazz psych rock was just getting cranked up, the vibes and synth ensuring I'd stay for their set, which meandered through all kinds of musical planes as they wove their spell through the room to end my evening.
First Friday, I was overdue to catch up with you.