BY LAURA RYSZ and KYLE BRAVIN
Local artists, musicians and businesses from Luzerne and Lackawanna counties are teaming up for two virtual First Friday events.
The public can participate in NEPA Cyber First Friday on Friday, April 3, from 5 to 8 p.m. and the April First Friday — Digital Exhibition starting at 6 p.m. without leaving the comfort of their homes.
Wilkes-Barre photographer Keith Perks came up with the idea for the NEPA Cyber First Friday event because he felt something should be done to help support artists and musicians while the coronavirus pandemic keeps most people quarantined.
Perks reached out to Gavin Esham, who works at Bar Pazzo in downtown Scranton, curates First Friday exhibits and has a working relationship with Perks, who also does the restaurants design, photography and social media. They decided to organize the cyber event, and about 20 businesses from Luzerne and Lackawanna counties are participating by hosting virtual galleries.
Participating businesses include Bar Pazzo, the Bog, Peculiar Slurp, Pazzo, Agolino’s, Karl Hall, Loyalty Barber Shop, Electric City Tattoo and Piercing, and Republic Audio Studio, to name a few, as well as Ionic Development and 1120 Creative, which are more web-based businesses. Some of the artists who will be featured include Chad Stanley, Jess Meoni, James Merolla, Kerry Kearney, Martha Carr and Scott Nichols, and several musicians will have performances on Facebook.
Perks explained that the galleries will be available to view on the NEPA Cyber First Friday Facebook page.
“Each gallery, just as if it were a brick-and-mortar business somewhere, will host an artist,” Perks said. “There will be a maximum of 20 images with information to contact the artists to purchase their work.”
The public also can watch performances musicians Tom Flannery, Zayre Mountain, Grant Williams, Jay Preston of Esta Coda, Dustin Douglas, Pat McGlynn of Holy Sardine and Dustin Switzer of A Proud Monkey.
First Friday Scranton also will host its April First Friday — Digital Exhibition, where participants can view online galleries and digital works on its website starting at 6 p.m.
During this time, artists and musicians have been unable to perform the live shows that they had planned at businesses or in front of crowds. Jack Reager, president of BlackOut Design, had to approach organizing the Scranton First Friday Art Walk differently as well.
“This is the first time since 2003 that we have had to take a different spin on First Friday Scranton,” he said. “Our volunteers over the years have worked with weather as the big concern, so we needed to come up with something a little different while we were monitoring what we would be able to have.”
The digital exhibition features about 20 artists; however, Reager hopes to add more to the site throughout the month.
“We hope this will be a great opportunity to shine the spotlight on the amazing artists’ community we have here in NEPA, and for those artists with work for sale, we would hope this is an opportunity to connect someone adding to or starting an art collection, and they can connect for a sale during a time when these artists surely could use some support.”
Just like many in the community, these artists, musicians and businesses are doing their part to support each other during the coronavirus outbreak.
“We are doing this for two reasons: for the love of art and for the love of our community,” Perks said. “We express ourselves and heal ourselves through art and music. These two things are vital to what we are facing today.”
How to participate
- What: NEPA Cyber First Friday
- When: Friday, April 3, from 5 to 8 p.m.
- Details: Visit the Facebook page.
- What: April First Friday: Digital Exhibition
- When: Friday, April 3, 6 p.m.
- Details: For questions, visit www.firstfridayscranton.com or email us at email@example.com.
Laura Rysz is the features copy editor and calendar editor at The Times-Tribune and runs the Talk of the Times column, which focuses on local fundraisers and other events. She also writes Chef’s Table that profiles restaurants around the region. Additionally, Laura curates events online on AccessNEPA.com. Laura is involved in the special Mother’s Day edition and curates occasional features Marry Memories and Times Travelers. She is a graduate of Haddonfield Memorial High School, New Jersey, and earned an English professional writing degree with a minor in mass communications from King’s College, Wilkes-Barre. She also earned a certificate in Social Media Marketing from Rutgers Business School. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9100 x5228.