WILKES-BARRE — The revitalized effort to support the arts community with a monthly art walk in Wilkes-Barre has picked up steam.
Third Friday Wilkes-Barre has its second major event tonight, after a successful relaunch in June. Three new venues dot the map, bringing the total number of participating galleries and non-traditional venues to 19, Third Friday marketing committee co-chair Chris Kelly said.
Third Friday art walks never really ended, Kelly said, but publicity for the event and participation from restaurants, bars and other atypical venues had dwindled in recent years.
“It’s been in existence for about the past six years, but the last few years it’s been only a couple of the traditional galleries participating. It’s been around, but it’s just been simmering,” Kelly said. “We knew as a group that if we gave it the attention and got the right people involved that this could really take off.”
The group also has taken some notes from organizers at First Friday Scranton, the popular art walk in Lackawanna County.
“They’ve been great about offering information and ideas about how they got to where they’re at,” Kelly said.
Kelly, who is also the development director at the Osterhout Library, said library officials were pleased the event was getting a second life.
“The library did participate in past years, and then we kind of got away from it about two years ago when it was dwindling. We knew the potential, and we want people to come and experience the library outside of coming in to get a book,” he said.
The Osterhout is “almost like a gallery itself” thanks to generous donations from the Friends of the Library.
Aside from the permanent collection, Kelly said, the library hopes to welcome visiting artists, poets and authors during future Third Friday events. Children’s activities will take place on the lawn tonight, and, weather permitting, Zayre Mountain is expected to perform on the library’s outdoor patio in August.
New venues participating this month include Bart and Urby’s, 119 S. Main Street; Rodano’s, 53 Public Square; and Ibop Coffee Company, 49 E. Northampton Street.
The husband-and-wife team of Joshua and Soni Park, of East Stroudsburg, owns Ibop Coffee Company. Joshua Park said they intentionally left the walls inside the specialty coffee shop white to create gallery space.
Tonight, their first Third Friday event will showcase works from Soni Park and Wilkes University associate professor of art Sharon Cosgrove along with music from Jon Sordoni and Doghouse Charlie from 6-8 p.m.
Soni Park said she’s particularly excited to find a growing arts community where her new business is and plans to showcase new works each month.
“I was so happy,” she said, recalling when she first learned of Third Friday Wilkes-Barre. “When I saw the brochure, I said, ‘Wow.’ ”
Soni Park, who has a bachelor’s degree in fine art from Parsons The New School For Design in New York City, has studied with acclaimed painter and printmaker Sean Scully and exhibited in several past shows. She is experimenting with homemade paints and pigments using found minerals and iconography in line with Russian and Greek Orthodox religions.
Wilkes-Barre’s art-friendly effort is in line with the support offered by many communities in Northeastern Pennsylvania, Kelly noted.
“These walks are popping up all over. Pittston has one on Second Friday, Clarks Summit has one on Second Friday, and I just saw over the weekend where Jessup started one,” he said.
“We don’t see an end to this. We’ve started something that we’re proud of and that we think is great for the art community.”