There was a lot of hand-wringing earlier this year by Valley art scenesters when Phoenix officials cracked down on unlicensed vending during the monthly First Friday art walk in downtown Phoenix. The paint-splattered set was (understandably) concerned that the event's funky nature would be compromised if sales and displays of their etchings on street corners and vacant lots were banned.
But amidst the fretting, the folks behind Roosevelt Row (the nonprofit organization representing a cluster of downtown galleries and art-friendly businesses in the Evans Churchill neighborhood) provided a solution to the problem. Folks such as Greg Esser and Cindy Dach (the power couple behind MADE and eye lounge) helped organize a monthly street fair and block party where vending would be permitted, provided participants obtain necessary tax licenses from the city and county, as well as pay a monthly fee.
Since their debut in April, the parties have attracted an eclectic collection of more than a hundred vendors and artists, ranging from the wordsmiths of Desert Dragon Poetry to the kiddy clothiers of Young Ones Clothing. For those who're worried that First Fridays will slip into blasé blandness, the parties are still edgier and cooler than the Tempe Festival of the Arts. Let's just hope they keep out the funnel cakes salesmen and those dudes hawking Bob Marley blankets.