Night crawlers

Diverse artists display their talents downtown at the First Friday Arts Crawl.



Bob Fleischman is president of the Brady Arts District Business Association, which sponsors the First Friday Arts Crawl in the Brady Arts District. The crawl began in 2007 as an outlet for artists to showcase their talents at various downtown venues.

If you regularly visit the Brady Arts District’s many restaurants, clubs and indie stores, you have probably heard about the Friday Night Arts Crawl. The Tulsa Artists’ Coalition and Club 209 owner Dr. Greg Gray started the walkable neighborhood event in 2007.

Now sponsored by the Brady Arts District Business Association, the Arts Crawl features local musicians, visual artists, craftsmen, merchants and residents showcasing their talents at numerous venues throughout the district. TAC and Club 209 still both participate regularly.

Business association president Bob Fleischman serves as chairman of the monthly evening event. The first Arts Crawl drew between 50 and 100 people, he says. It now boasts an average attendance of approximately 500, in part because of new venues such as Living Arts and the Henry Zarrow Center for Art and Education, as well as the caliber of art being shown.

TulsaPeople spoke with Fleischman about the popular crawl and how it is putting the trendy Brady Arts District on the Green Country map.

Explain more about how the Arts Crawl came to be.

(The 2007) president of the reactivated Brady Arts District Business Association, Dr. Greg Gray, began opening art shows at Club 209 once a month. He then talked with Tulsa Artists’ Coalition, which also offered monthly shows. They combined their resources and began holding openings on the same day — the First Friday of every month. Soon, others began to join in, such as Tulsa Glassblowing, Gypsy Coffeehouse and Chrysalis Salon & Spa. Now, the First Friday Arts Crawl occurs 12 months of the year — with an occasional rescheduling to avoid national holidays.

How many artists participate and how many venues are currently involved?

There are between 12 and 20 different venues to display various visual art forms. As more businesses open in the district, we expect more to come on board … The entire evening includes performing arts, as well, with live entertainment … a very important part of the First Friday Arts Crawl.  

Besides the art showings, what are some of the main activities that happen during the Arts Crawl?

Aside from the visual arts, there is a host of restaurants and clubs that offer their food and entertainment experiences. Also, the recent opening of the Guthrie Green has provided live entertainment … at no charge during the Arts Crawl hours of 6-9 p.m.

How long does it take to plan each Arts Crawl night?

Our planning for the monthly crawl is ongoing. Some of the venues have already scheduled artists (several months in advance). Each venue hosts at least one artist, with 10-18 artists participating each month.

How can a local artist participate in an Arts Crawl?

They first need to come to a crawl or two to experience the pulse of the event. Then, they need to contact one of the venues. They should be prepared with a disc of their work or a website for the venue owner to investigate their work.

It has always been a goal of the Brady Arts District Business Association to primarily support local artists. Each venue owner has different criteria for selection of their artists. It is a very personal thing since the work you display reflects on your business.

This month’s First Friday Arts Crawl will be held Dec. 7. Visit www.thebradyartsdistrict.com for more information.

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