Preview Thursday attracts serious art collectors avoiding First Friday crowds

The first Friday of each month in the 18b Arts District downtown is often packed with people checking out live music, food trucks, vendors and — of course — art. But for those who want to view artwork without walking through the hallways of crowded galleries can attend Preview Thursday, the day before downtown’s monthly festival.

Select galleries and shops, such as The Arts Factory, 107 E. Charleston Blvd., and the Funk House, 1228 S. Casino Center Blvd., open typically from 5 to 10 p.m. during the first Thursday of the month. The preview days offer an opportunity to showcase the galleries’ newest exhibits and give viewers a chance to speak with the artists.

Amber Gardner, an artist whose work is featured in the Funk House’s "Curve of the Spine" exhibit, which premiered March 1, participated in her first Preview Thursday showcase. She said premiering her work Thursday evening gave her an opportunity to talk with people one-on-one.

"People who care want to talk and linger around for a while," Gardner said. "Even if they don’t buy anything, it’s nice to talk with them."

Some people prefer to attend Preview Thursday and First Friday instead of just one event. Richard King, a collector and artist, falls into this category.

"When I go to First Friday, I almost don’t want to talk to the artist because I don’t want to take up potential sale time," King said. "With Preview Thursday, collectors come out, and it’s the artists’ time to go out and see each other."

First Friday festivities, which usually last from 6 p.m. to midnight, typically include areas for entertainment, food and crowds of people stretching from Emergency Arts, 520 Fremont St., to the 18b Arts District. Preview Thursday’s vibe, however, is toned down, with a handful of people roaming The Arts Factory, including a few who step inside the Jenny Valdez Gallery, which Debbe "Jaye" Sussman was running on this particular Thursday evening.

Some of Sussman’s works are displayed in the space just inside the front doors to The Arts Factory, and a couple of people step in to view the pieces she and several other artists have on sale.

Sussman said Preview Thursday sometimes draws a different type of crowd with different motivations compared to First Friday.

"Thursday is usually a better selling day," Sussman said. "It’s a lot more relaxed and a lot easier on (the artists). A lot of the people I see on Thursdays are older and don’t want to fight the crowd."

The artists often recognize the difference between those who typically visit galleries during Preview Thursday and the people who view displays on the first Friday of the month. Gardner said she’s happy to see those who take a genuine interest in the valley’s art community, which was apparent during this particular Thursday evening.

"This is my first Preview Thursday, and I like it better because people who are serious about it can come and talk to the artist," Gardner said. "I’m new to the art community, but everyone supports you, and that’s what I like about it."

For more information about Preview Thursday or First Friday, visit firstfriday

Contact Paradise/Downtown View reporter Lisa Carter at or 383-4686.

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