A Walk with Artists (With Photos)

By Erika Mahoney

February 7, 2013 Updated Feb 8, 2013 at 11:51 AM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) For nearly 10 years, First Friday Art Walks have brightened downtown Binghamton.

Every first Friday of every month, conversations of color, texture and imagery scatter the night air.

In the discovery of new art comes the re-discovery of what makes Binghamton, Binghamton. Those who attend First Friday say: its people.

"I've met people that I otherwise would have never met," said Orazio Salati, who owns a studio with the same name.

Bringing people together is why the event was born, and why it continues to be a success.

"I think the arts is what brings a community together," Salati said.
"And we've been bringing people out. We have thousands of people that come out for First Friday."

A local retired art teacher keeps coming back to meet friends, old and new, for personal inspiration.

"It's neat to kind of reconnect with people I haven't seen before, so that's a good part for me," Michelle Leonard said.

And even when the weather is bitter cold, a mom and daughter try to make it every month for the same reason.

From the Orazio Salati Studio, they walk across State Street -- appropriately named Artists' Row -- to The Connelly Gallery for the second of many stops.

"I love seeing the artwork, I love seeing the people in the area," Hannah Ward said.

As people gather around displays, eyes open to the source of the conversation, the talent of Binghamton artists.

"Each gallery has such a different aesthetic from the next and that's one of the best things," Ward said. "Each time you come, it's different, and each month it's different. So that is why it's so awesome, to be able to hit all of those galleries really close together."

Every First Friday, between 30 and 40 venues open their doors, rain or shine.

"A lot of people don't even know how many artists there are in this area, how many galleries," Garland Gallery Owner Sherry Eaton said. "Even the restaurants have art on display. It gets people to walk the streets and rediscover Binghamton."

There are new discoveries around every corner for both the die-hard fans and the newcomers.

"This is my first First Friday that I've been to," said Dillon Eggleston,16. "I haven't had that much exposure to art before and it's really interesting. There's a lot more art in the city than I was aware of and there's a lot of creative people."

Eggleston said he will definitely be back because on that Friday in February, he looked at Binghamton like it was his first.