Emergency Arts offers smorgasbord of galleries and a different First Friday experience

Photo courtesy of Lil’ Art Bodega

First Friday, the downtown Las Vegas arts festival occurring on the first Friday of each month, is a great showcase for local artists, musicians and performers, but there are many who haven’t yet experienced the street party because they may fear the crowds or worry that it’s less about appreciating art than drinking and carousing.

Jennifer Kleven, owner of Kleven Contemporary, understands that apprehension, but she has a solution.

“I think people assume that First Friday is only in the 18B Arts District, but it’s not,” she said. “Emergency Arts is a great alternative. We are centrally located next to bars and restaurants, and all of the galleries are inside one building.”

The former Fremont Medical Center building opened last May as a collection of galleries, studio spaces and even a café for artists and the artistically-minded to gather, work and sell their works.The venue is located on the northwest corner of Sixth and Fremont streets. First Friday pulls all these tenants together to showcase the best of the building.

“One big advantage (of First Friday) is that every gallery is open, whereas during the week we may have different hours,” said Joy Snyder, co-owner of Sporadica Designs, which focuses on found object and recycled material art.

“Every First Friday is (a chance for visitors to) experience new concepts of art and my creative juices are shown,” Tanya Walter, owner of Lil’ Art Bodega (L A B) said. “It makes people want to come back see what else that I came up with every month. How cool is that?”

Kleven offered an alternative for those still leery about the crowds at First Friday.
“Most galleries offer a Preview Thursday so potential customers can see what Friday’s exhibits will be ahead of the crowds,” she said.

While some may feel that collecting art is a hobby for the rich, this is a notion Snyder disagreed with.

“We like to make our work affordable for all,” Snyder said. “It’s nice to have new collectors and homeowners looking for pieces for their homes.”

She and partner Kathryn Gilbert typically price their pieces from $75 up to $500.

“Customers do not have to be well off to afford art work,” Kleven said. “You just have to have a passion for it. You have to want to live with art. I have yet to have any artwork go over $575.”

When it comes to starting a collection, Snyder offers this advice: “Always buy what you like, not what’s in vogue or what matches or what someone else thinks you should have. My husband and I have collected for over forty years and still love the pieces we bought as newlyweds.”

Walter, whose eclectic offerings include everything from graffiti to fine art, agreed.
“Make sure the artwork you purchase is something you want to look at every day and it’s a conversation piece,” Walter said.

“Purchase work that offers a little more than meets the eye and contact the artist,” Kleven advised. “Most local galleries will give you the artist’s email. Nothing feels better than hearing how much someone enjoys your work.”

The Emergency Arts building is located at 520 Fremont Street. Metered parking is available on the surrounding streets and the El Cortez hotel offers a free parking garage on Ogden Avenue, between Seventh and Eighth streets.

Published on BestOfLasVegas.com

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