Get ready to put those virtual galleries aside this Friday. For the first time in two months, Emporia First Friday will be live, on the street and in person.

Ten downtown venues will host local artists starting at 5 p.m., either curbside or in-house.

“I am very excited, and I think the business owners are excited, and the artists are definitely excited,” Co-Founder and Organizer Kaila Mock said.

Though there are normally about 16-20 participating venues, Mock said this is a good way to ease back into the art walk. Some of the venues and artists include: Vault Meats & Cheeses featuring Jeff Quintana, The Dusty Trail Gift Shoppe featuring Tracy Whipple and Chi Em Eats featuring T&L Alexander Studios.

Trox Gallery and Gifts will be hosting the Emporia High School Senior Art Show. This show is traditionally held at the high school at the end of the school year, but with schools closed due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, this was the next best way to honor those students and their art.

Paintings, drawings, blown glass and ceramics will be on display. Mock said they were originally going to coordinate an online show, but she needed a June show in her gallery space, so they were able to work out a gallery showing.

Some of the venues will allow a limited number of people at a time in the venue space. Other venues will host their featured artist outside.

For the months of April and May, First Friday created a virtual “off-road” platform that kept the community engaged with local art while staying safe.

“Everyone really loved the off-road version online,” Mock said. “It brought a lot of artists out that normally wouldn’t have. That was great, but the online version didn’t translate into sales for anyone — the businesses. It will be nice to get back to that, and hopefully we can generate some sales … because that’s a big part of it.”

Passports will look a little different. Instead of visiting all of the venues to be entered into the raffle at the end of the night, participants may visit as many venues and artists as they would like. Passports can be turned in at Twin Rivers Winery to be entered into the raffle for a Twin Rivers prize.

There will be an opportunity to win another prize, too.

“If you take a picture of yourself art walking in your mask and tag [Emporia First Friday] on Facebook or Instagram, we’ll do a drawing of all of those photos at the end of the night, and you’ll get a First Friday T-shirt and tote bag,” Mock said. “We’re highly, highly encouraging people to wear masks.”

Masks of many patterns can be purchased at Trox. Social distancing is also encouraged, and if patrons are sick, they are asked to stay home. Individual bottles of hand sanitizer will be available at each stop, courtesy of William Pike from Roberts-Blue-Barnett.

Mock is aware of the Black Lives Matter protest that is scheduled to begin four hours before the art walk and travel down Commercial Street to the Emporia Police Department. She will keep an eye on it and make any potential adjustments as necessary.

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