Peoria First Friday is a smorgasbord of art for both the novice and the aficionado. With 18 studios to choose from you can make your own masterpiece or marvel at some of the talented work made by some of the amazing artists that choose to make Peoria their home.
With so many studios in the area to visit I don’t go into First Friday lightly. I need to devise a plan of attack to maximize my art exposure! Luckily, the Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau offers their Enjoy Peoria Bus to First Friday attendees! The bus runs in a continuous loop to the downtown studios from 5- 9 pm! Without the tedious task of parking and driving to and from locations I can easily add another hour of art appreciation to my night!
The Enjoy Peoria bus pulls up right on time in front of the Contemporary Art Center, I hop aboard and enjoy the ride up to Studios on Sheridan. The Studios are a great place to start your night. There is literally something for everyone. I grab a glass of wine and start navigating through the 30 plus studios that are housed in the historic sunbeam building. I pop in to watch a glass blowing demonstration by the talented Jeremie Draper, watching the molten glass become a beautiful piece of art is hypnotic! After the demonstration I explore some of the unique shops, one of my personal favorites is Urban Artifacts. They have the coolest collection of Peoria memorabilia, it would be easy to wander around here all night but there are more studios to see. If I’m going to keep this pace up I’m definitely going to need a caffeine fix, luckily for me Zion Coffee company has a booth set up, their free trade coffee has just the kick I need to keep going!
So back to the bus I go! Next stop, Wheel Art Pottery! As soon as the bus pulls in, I know I’m in for a good time. Fire dancers are outside of the building cracking flame lit whips and spinning hoops! It’s absolutely mesmerizing, only the sounds of live music pouring from the studio allows me to drag myself away and into the gallery. The first room of the gallery is filled with pottery that’s been made by owner Jacob Grant as well as the members of the studio. This is where I can start getting my hands dirty, Jacob offers classes on the wheel during First Friday, and so I roll up my sleeves and sign up! Let me tell you, there is no better feeling then the smush of clay between your fingers. I wasn’t an expert but I had a blast, and even signed up for a twelve week class!
All of this art indulgence can really take a lot out of a girl and I’m starving. The perfect end to my night is near, it’s located right outside of The Ear and the Envelope and Studio 825 (two fantastic stops on the bus route). Sugar Wood-Fired Grill is warm and inviting with the tempting aroma of pizza filling the restaurant. As I’m enjoying a good glass of red wine with my favorite Chicken Parmesan pizza I can’t help but feel grateful to live in a community with such a vibrant and thriving art scene. Peoria’s First Friday is truly a masterpiece.