First Thursday concept aims at bringing arts to the crowds

Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2001

Art Works gallery owner Marty Hapeman likes to get people involved in art, in all of its forms. To further her goal, she created what is fast becoming a new tradition in Soldotna: the First Thursday Art at the Y.

Patterned after gallery shops in many cities across the nation, the First Thursday of every month will be a time when galleries and other art-inclined businesses around the Y in Soldotna will stay open late and host open house activities.

"I've never actually been to a First Thursday," Hapeman said. "But I was kind of aware of them since I have a long history of visiting galleries."

Hapeman has been holding artists' receptions at Art Works every three months, but wanted a way to have an event every month, so she talked some of her business neighbors into joining with her to start First Thursday.

On Nov. 1, five other businesses participated: Malfunction Junction, Mykel's Restaurant, River City Books, Claudette's and Sugar Magnolias.

On Dec. 6 at Malfunction Junction, an Alaskana gift store on Smith Way owned by Gloria Ager, there will be holiday gift wrapping and bow making.

"They'll be doing a lot of Christmassy things," Hapeman said.

For November, Jana Coffey demonstrated glass bead making there.


Chris Long drums while Bryan Lazer strums during the open jam session at Sugar Magnolias during Nov. 1's First Thursday Art at the Y.


In December, River City Books and Claudette's at the Cornerstone Marketplace will team up for an apron exhibit. The idea came about when Claudette's owner, Claudette Barber, got a shipment of 50 heirloom aprons for her antique store.

"People got so excited when I got the shipment in and I had hordes of people interested in them," Barber said.

She did some research on vintage aprons in the book "The Apron: An American Icon."

"It tells the story of women through their aprons, as a piece of American folk art," Barber said.

At first, she did not want to break up the collection of 50 aprons because they are so unique, but she decided to display them at River City Books and give a talk on them at 7 p.m.

"And if anyone wants to tell a story, they can," she said. "Everyone has a story about a favorite apron or a loved one in an apron."

Pottery artist Penny McClain spoke at Claudette's first First Thursday, while author Carla Rusk spoke about Sterling at River City Books.

At Sugar Magnolias, upstairs at Thompson's Corner, there will be "miscellaneous adventures," Hapeman said. "There will probably be a bunch of music."


Lois Holleman and Bill Larned harmonize during the open mic night at Mykel's during the Nov. 1 First Thursday.


She said Sugar Magnolia owner Colleen Jones had more specific plans, but they weren't solidly in place at press time. For November, there was an open jam session there.

At Art Works, between the Spur and Smith Way, Hapeman will feature Oriental healing arts among the paintings and prints. She has four people, Karlene Muller, Renee Nunley, Kathy Bender and Gary Fandel, lined up to demonstrate and perform a variety of practices, ranging from acupuncture and healing herbs to foot reflexology, reiki massage and jin shin do, a form of acupressure therapy.

She said she hopes to have a demonstration of tai chi, a meditative exercise. For November, Art Works featured kava tea and communal drumming.

At Mykel's, the open mike night will last at least until 9 p.m. The featured visual artist in the lounge in December will be watercolorist Rube Tikka.

"It's nice to have a place for people to pour into after they go to the other stores," Hapeman said.

With a half-dozen places to visit in two hours, 20 minutes apiece doesn't seem like much time, but Hapeman said First Thursday is not designed for everyone to visit every place.

"They could, but 20 minutes might not be enough," she said. "There's some talk of running it longer."

Besides creating an event for patrons of the arts, First Thursday is good for business.

"Any business that attaches to this is smart," Hapeman said. "It's a great way to be seen positively in the community, and the community benefits from promoting the arts."

Barber agrees.

"I get people in here I've never seen before," she said. "I love it, people have a different mind-set when they're in after hours. It's like a Saturday crowd, but even more so. They're here to hang out and have a good time."

The December First Thursday is a week from today and begins at 6 p.m. For more information, call any of the businesses involved.

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