Thank you to Mayor Armstrong on the 18th Anniversary of the First Friday Gallery Hop

In Memoriam: Thank you Mayor Armstrong (August 6, 1941 – June 15, 2017)

Recently, the City of Louisville lost one of its great leaders, The Honorable David L. Armstrong, who served as mayor from 1999-2003.

“The Nulu Business Association would like acknowledge his foresight and recognize his assistance in turning this neighborhood into the exciting place that it is today. The creation of the First Friday Trolley Hop, planned and produced with Mayor Armstrong’s direction, played a large part in revitalizing the neighborhood and making East Market Street, Louisville’s “Arts District”. – Rick Murphy, NuLu

He accomplished a great deal in his four years as Mayor. The following is brief history written by Chuck Swanson of Swanson Contemporary Galley, recalling how the First Friday Hop came about.

“For several years the art gallery group, at that time known as V.A.N. (visual art network) tried to organize art events in a way that could tie the galleries together. My wife Karolle was the city’s Cultural Planner at the time. We happened to be visiting Columbus Ohio around 1998 and stumbled upon their First Friday Gallery Hop. So, the Louisville gallery folks started talking among ourselves about how that could happen in Louisville.

By the end of 1998 Swanson had opened a branch on East Market and so had Zephyr. Billy Hertz had a working studio on the same block and a gallery three blocks west. Soon after, Erin Devine opened her gallery in the same block as Swanson and Zephyr and Julius Friedman opened his large gallery on West Main. Around the time Dave Armstrong was elected, we decided to push again for an event to tie the galleries together and we arranged a meeting with the Mayor, here on East Market Street to explain the benefits of such an event. He immediately got it, saw the economic impact it could have and how it could help make the city a better place to “live work and play”. He put the full force of the city behind the effort with banners, posters, trolleys and so on. At one point the event was even underwritten by a local booster who donated $700 a month for wine. Originally the hop included only the for-profit, retail galleries but before long it included all of the nonprofits as well, KMAC, Glassworks, The New Center and others. Mayor Armstrong frequently attended the First Friday event.” – Chuck Swanson of Swanson Contemporary Galley

Paul Paletti on the start of the Gallery Hop:

“When I started the gallery,” he said, “I had two things in mind: To be an educational resource for photographers, so they could see what really great black-and-white photographic prints look like, and to be part of the second Louisville Photo Biennial, which opened on July 15, 2001. I knew I would keep collecting, but had no strategic plan, and no inkling that it would continue.”

“I didn’t even have a name for the gallery until about November 2001, when the mayor’s office called (it was Dave Armstrong then), and said they were starting a First Friday Gallery Hop, and all the other galleries said I needed to be included. The other galleries were referring to it as the Paul Paletti Gallery, and the mayor’s office was calling to find out if that was actually the real name. I said, ‘I guess it is now.’” – The Paul Paletti Gallery celebrates  15 years of photo exhibitions with ‘Reflected’ LEO Weekly JUL 27 2016 BY JO ANNE TRIPLETT

On Friday, July 7th, Downtown Louisville will host another First Friday event in this, the 18th year of celebrating art, in all its forms, and we welcome everyone to join in the fun. Many of the original artists and galleries will be open. The founders, from Zephyr, to Swanson Contemporary and Paul Paletti will be open and actively participating. Some of the past galleries still stand by quietly, Fiber artist and political activist Mary Craik’s studio still stands with the bright red awning, the artist having recently celebrated her 93rd birthday. Gallery Hertz, another founding member, initially in what is now the East Market Lofts can be found a little ways further south on Preston Street and new members continue to join the tradition from The Normandy Gallery to Awesome Possum thanks to the support of Mayor Armstong so many years ago. From all of our members, past and present, from the Nulu Business Association, Republic Bank First Friday Hop and everyone who has come to love art Downtown as part of this legacy, we offer our thanks and sincere condolences to Mayor Armstrong’s family and friends as we express our deep gratitude for all he did in serving the City, the arts and Downtown Louisville.


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