First Friday fools them all by sticking around for fifth anniversary

Five years is about 10 lifetimes in Las Vegas. So it’s more than a little noteworthy that First Friday, downtown’s monthly funky, organic arts movement, is celebrating its fifth anniversary tonight.

It’s one part Bohemian scene, one part strolling happy hour with enough interesting artwork, music, food and drinks to keep just about everyone smiling. The emphasis is on “cutting edge” art, according to the First Friday Web site, but you’ll have to develop your own opinion on that. My artistic tastes are pretty tame.

For me, by far the best part of First Friday is the people- watching possibilities. There’s a playful San Francisco feel to the scene, which centers around the Arts Factory galleries at 107 W. Charleston Blvd. in an area that once was known for used-furniture stores, taxi yards, and a pest control business that featured super-sized roaches.

To say the blossoming of the arts district is a vast improvement is an understatement. Even the establishment is getting into the act. Tonight’s festivities, which begin at 6 o’clock, are sponsored by no less than the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

I’m looking forward to checking out the Las Vegas News Bureau photo exhibit of our entertainment history, as well as an exhibit of charcoal drawings titled “Film Noir” by Susanne Forestieri.

Did I mention the crowd is also a hoot?

The Holsum Design Center just up Charleston has plenty going on, and two outdoor stages will feature live music. I have no idea whether Makayla Nikol of Orange County and her “urban pop” recording artistry will shake up downtown, but I plan to find out.

If this doesn’t sound like the usual Las Vegas experience, well, that’s the whole point. First Friday is more of a living poem than a business plan.

The fact it has survived this long on those mean streets is a testament to the resilience of those who have staked their hearts, souls and wallets on it.

CALLING ALL SAINTS: For more than 34 years, the All Saints Day School at 4201 W. Washington Ave. has been an oasis and safe haven for children. Unfortunately, it appears that is about to change.

Officials have been notified that because of falling enrollment and a financial crunch, the school will be forced to close Oct. 19. The school’s director, Dyan McCarthy, said she hopes the dedicated staff can hold out until December to give parents time to find alternative venues and teachers a chance to search for other employment. The school is associated with the All Saints Episcopal Church.

“It’s just so horribly soon,” McCarthy said. “If we could just honor the school in some way. Basically, we are suffering from a severe lack of enrollment (just 58 students), and it’s coming to the point where we can’t meet our bills.”

Although the current bills add up to just $11,000, she reports that the school is forecast to lose approximately $6,000 a month as parents hurt by a downturn in the local economy cut back.

The small staff includes three teachers with 20 years or more at the school, McCarthy said. The staff has agreed to accept pay cuts to reach the December goal and proper closure.

It’s also true that the neighborhood has changed over the years. There aren’t as many families in the area who can afford day care, McCarthy said.

ON THE BOULEVARD: Sorry to see Cathy Ray leave KTNV-TV, Channel 13, for medical reasons. She brought class and consistency to the newscast. … Former Strip professional arm candy Janie McCormick’s “Breaking My Silence: Confessions of a Rat Pack Party Girl and Sex Trade Survivor” looks like a juicy read with a compelling moral to the story. … Do you mean to tell me Station Casinos’ super-sized buyout by Fertitta Colony Partners has pleased almost everyone involved? That’s not what I’m hearing, but the complaints are coming pretty late in the $5.4 billion game. … Matt O’Brien signs his book “Beneath the Neon” at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 11 at the Reading Room inside Mandalay Place. … Paging Jay Leno: Not to end on a down note, but the National Funeral Directors Association International Convention & Expo starts Sunday at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Have an item for the Bard of the Boulevard? E-mail comments and contributions to or call 383-0295.

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