FIRST FRIDAY IS STILL ABOUT THE ARTIt’s so frustrating to me when I hear people bragging about how they’re too cool for First Fridays or complaining about how First Fridays is not about the art anymore. What I think is really happening is that the people who say this can’t get motivated to leave early enough to make the art shows that start around 6 p.m. The art portion of First Fridays is an early evening affair, and there’s no shortage in quantity nor quality of art if you make it out early.
At this month’s First Friday, Hound & Quail continued to make a name for itself as a hub for creative arts with the closing night of a black-and-white analogue photography show in its basement gallery, The Outpost. It has increased its capacity beyond a gallery space and has become a creation station of sorts, as all of the photos were hand-processed and printed in-house in a photo lab.
My favorite from the show was a picture taken from behind of what I think was a person with extreme kyphosis who appeared headless while walking through a subway station. The photo had a matter-of-fact tone that made it much more of a reminder of the diversity and variety of people out there than a photo that singled this person out as a freak.
In4mation had another pop-up converting its Nuuanu and Pauahi storefront into a gallery, this time showcasing the work of Benjamin King in a show titled Conversations With The Moon. One wall featured design work representative of his brand, Moon Collective, while the other wall showcased highlights from several years of abstract portraits that King has painted of black men, some appearing to be conceptually rendered and some representing iconic figures from popular culture.
I was totally surprised when I saw his work. His brand’s lines and style are so clean and minimal that I was not expecting to see such rawness and texture in his portraiture. His painting style looked both experimental and deliberate, with an air of distinction like it belonged on album or book covers.
During the last discussion I’d had with him, he’d spoken of himself more as a curator, so it was great to see his work as the focus of the show rather than the fulcrum behind it.
But Chinatown is still Chinatown, and after I left the gallery, a stray tweaker came up and seemed to be accusing me of somehow being responsible for his breakup with his ex, although it was mixed in with a bunch of nonsensical gibberish, as well as asking me for handouts. It’s a strange experience to see the type of street person you know you should avoid and realize that you used to know him. He was clearly high on something, and it’s sad to see how drugs can wear people down and change them in such a short period of time.