Preview Thursday less hectic than First Friday art event

For serious art lovers and buyers, the Thursday before First Friday is the ideal time to visit the 18b Arts District. Preview Thursday offers art show openings, a chance to meet the artists and chat with them about their work and the first opportunity to buy featured art.

Preview Thursday got its start in 2004 when Marty Walsh, artist and owner of Trifecta Gallery in the Arts Factory, realized that many serious art buyers were reluctant to view art during First Friday because of the crowds . To avoid alienating either the party-loving First Friday-goers or those coming strictly to view and shop art, she invited her key clients the night before First Friday.

Nearly a decade later, many studios, galleries and shops see the value of opening their doors on Preview Thursday, including galleries in The Arts Factory and Art Square, Brett Wesley Gallery, Blackbird Studios, Gainsburg Studio and Amanda Harris Gallery in Soho Lofts.

Cockroach Theatre in Art Square host s live performances. Hours vary but generally venues open at 5 p.m. and run up to 11 p.m.

Brett Sperry, owner of Brett Wesley Gallery and co-owner of Artifice, a bar with two lounges and a performance area, presents monthly art openings on what he calls Art Walk Thursday, a different name for Preview Thursday that offers the same overall experience. Patrons have an opportunity to see new works by emerging and established artists and enjoy the distinctive galleries within the arts district, as well as stop off for drinks or dinner in the growing number of bars and restaurants in the district.

“The heart of the Arts District has grown significantly with the opening of Art Square and five new galleries and shops, a new black box theater and Mingo Kitchen all in the same block as the Arts Factory. These are exciting times to revisit old favorites and explore the new,” Sperry said.

Gina Quaranto, artist and owner of Blackbird Studios, a cooperative art studio and exhibition space that opened five years ago in the Commerce Street Studios, says Preview Thursday is mellower than the blowout First Friday event. “It is when many patrons come to see the art galleries,” Quaranto said.

Quaranto features new shows each month, presenting both the show and the artist to the public on Preview Thursday and again on First Friday.

Amanda Harris, owner of the Amanda Harris Gallery of Contemporary Art in Soho Lofts, enjoys the Preview Thursday event as it attracts “people who drive in from Summerlin, younger and older couples from all over the city who come to the arts district specifically for Preview Thursday.”