The second first Friday of the season became a huge success as people jumped between the showers on Friday night to explore and speak with some of the County’s finest local artists.
The diverse showcase of work throughout Trenton featured exhibits at Trenton Free Public Library, Artworks, Passage Theatre, Trenton Social, Mill Hill Saloon, and Freedom Skate Park. Freedom hosted a rock concert for the first time in the park’s history. Zach Stier, the director of volunteers at Freedom Skate Park, said that this is just a natural partnership.
“To collide both worlds is extremely important because…for me, punk rock and skateboarding was what I always did…That was what I focused on. So if I can bring some influence into Trenton and show people cool shows, cool rappers and maybe… be able to bring more creative people into the city and show how important the city is, then I will do my part to do that,” Stier said.
As guests and residents dashed into shows between the night’s showers, Artworks hosted a live painting session with two local artists, Nagayd Ewell and Alex Rodriguez, who put on a playlist and worked on collab pieces throughout the night, showing anyone that came to their process.
“I just kind of like look at something and kind of feed off of it. Right now I am working off the collab that (Ewell) started. So I did the back and she did the background joints, and I’m gonna do everything based off of the stuff that she kind of did,” Rodriguez said.
“I just go with the flow path, the mood, or the music that I’m listening to. So I’m going to shuffle a playlist and see kind of how it moves me,” Ewell said
After Artworks, it was easy to take a stroll down to passage theatre, where Habiyb Shu’Aib and Passage Theatre showed a gallery about women empowerment connected to the Passage Theatre’s newest musical, Group.
Will Wellane, an employee at Passage Theatre, explained what was happening. “We are opening our original musical Group (Saturday) night. And they’re currently in rehearsal. And so this exhibit is sort of loosely based on the themes because this show is about women’s addiction and recovery,” said Wellane.
The hope of Shu’Aib, the curator of the gallery, is to uplift the voices of female artists in Trenton. “It’s important to showcase the amazing artists that we have in Trenton and also the Women Artists,” Shu’Aib said. Although the weather was terrible, Shu’Aib explained that this turnout was a good look into the future. “A lot more foot traffic in the hallways and this is a nasty, rainy, gloomy Friday evening and we still have people in attendance. That is saying a lot…I feel like the future is definitely brighter, imagine a sunny Friday with 80 degree weather,” Shu’Aib said.
There were a lot of firsts for the evening; for the first time since the pandemic, the Mill Saloon teamed up with the Trenton Photo Club. They showcase amateur and professional photographers side by side.
“The really cool thing about the photo club show is we have photographers out there that make their living as photographers,” said Chris Marinari, founder of the Trenton Photo Club. “They got stuff on the wall for thousands of dollars, and they sell their stuff. Then we also have people out there that this is their hobby, and their stuff is right next door and their stuff is amazing.”
Trenton residents, state workers, and tourists walked through the route. It was plain to see that familiar faces came at every stop. “I see a lot of people that I follow around to each spot or they followed me around to each spot. I think that’s really good for the community, that we have like a trail now where people aren’t just coming into the city, going to one spot, and then leaving. They’re going to a few spots and that’s only good for the city because that impacts the whole community,” Marinari said.
The artwork wasn’t only for looking at; it was a chance to connect with local artists to buy their work and take it home to hang on the wall that same night. Anne Hoskins, a Hamilton multimedia artist whose exhibition was set up at Trenton Social, explained that her artwork fit into the mood of first Fridays in a lot of different ways.
“I liked that there is often a lot of really rich and interesting work without a lot of pretenses, which is something that the fine art world is really laden with, and that can be kind of off-putting,” Hoskins said. She explained that her work can fit into any price range. “I have things priced everywhere from you know, 10 bucks to over a grand because I do want it to be accessible to whoever might be interested in it,” Hoskins said.
Overall, artists have been a staple in Trenton; Buck Maleo, the curator of the Mill Saloon, explained that art will always have a special place in Trenton.
“I look at it as I plant a seed every month. And it gives us a chance to grow and it helps the city grow. Art heals, art teaches, art communicates, art builds, art breaks down barriers and art brings people together. So it’s when you’re putting together a show like that. It’s going to do a lot of positive things for the city,” Maleo said.