First Fridays: How Students Can Get to Know The City of Scranton
by James Leonard | Staff Writer
SCRANTON – The City of Scranton’s First Friday events are back in full swing this semester.
English major Bethany Belkowski said she enjoys First Fridays because they give her a better sense of what Downtown Scranton has to offer, being a first year student.
“I think students should go to First Friday because it’s not only something fun to do with friends, but it celebrates and supports local businesses and art, which are two things that are often overlooked but are extremely important to the heart and soul of a community,” Belkowski said.
The nonprofit, volunteer-supported organization aims to promote local art, music, food and other businesses in Downtown Scranton.
University Community & Civic Engagement Coordinator Carolyn Bonacci said students should experience areas outside of the University because during their time here, Scranton is their home. She stressed the importance of community engagement with students.
“This is an opportunity to get to know the people in the city, learn about its history and experience its diversity,” Bonacci said. “The local businesses in Scranton truly have something for everyone, from great restaurants offering a variety of ethnic cuisines to unique boutiques.”
Artists on Adams
One local artist, who showcased work at the event, Jesse Clemente exhibited his art in a studio at 200 Adams Ave. He incorporated historical events into abstract art using many different colors and a distinct style.
One of his works on display incorporated references to major events from the 1960s, from Kennedy’s assassination to the Civil Rights movement. He says there is no direct influence for his art and much of it is sporadic, but it keeps the same inspiration from street art.
“Yes, that is a reference to the Carcano rifle Lee Harvey Oswald used in the assasination,” Clemente said. “The whole thing is kind of a sporadic process and one idea pops up and then others come right after and it all starts to pile on.”
Clemente’s art has been showcased at the same venue throughout both the February and March First Fridays.
“It’s great being able to showcase my art here and have people of all backgrounds come look at it,” Clemente said. “I’m here to answer any questions one might have on any of my artwork displayed here.”
Each month’s map of participating businesses and exhibits can be found at firstfridaysscranton.com. A map included on the site features a key designed to help participants navigate between venues.
Afa, an art gallery building located at the corner of Lackawanna and Penn Avenue, hosted an exhibition of various artists titled, “GROUNDED: An exhibition of natural materials.” The exhibit showcased many types of art, from a sculpture of a man with a banjo to mosaics. All of the art was available for purchase.
A COVID Comeback
A well-known provision-provider within the First Fridays business is Adezzo. A coffee shop and lounge located at 515 Center St., this cafe is known to students and community members alike as a favorite along their walks between attractions and displays.
Barista Grace Doolittle said the event really helps to bring in business not only at the time of the event, but for the future as well.
“With COVID it has really been a hit or miss with First Friday until the last two events,” Doolittle said. “We had a huge rush of people and a lot of University students coming back from break. I think the ice sculptures in February were a huge draw.”
Adezzo also hosts artists for First Friday. The establishment stays open later than usual to account for the event.
“This week we are hosting a mother and daughter duo of photographers who will be showcasing their work in the cafe and instead of staying open until 7 p.m., we will be open until 9 p.m.,” Doolittle said. “The artists will be right here if anyone is interested in purchasing the art or asking questions.”
All events associated with First Friday take place from 6-9 p.m. in a walk-able, close knit footprint, though a trolleybus is available to provide shuttle service at designated stops.
Visit the official First Friday website for more information and questions.