Almost a decade later, Cynthia Wolf remembers the paltry crowd at the first First Friday Gallery Walk in the Paseo Arts District.
“We probably had 20 people come to the first gallery walk,” she recalled with a laugh. “Now, we have 800 to 1,000 people. … But it was hard, you know, people were saying ‘Nobody's gonna show up.' And I said, ‘You just have to keep doing it every first Friday.' So slowly it built up.”
The Dallas native was a relative newcomer to the historic neighborhood when she began urging fellow artists and gallery owners to open their doors en masse from 6 to 10 p.m. the first Friday of every month. She was inspired by art walks in other large cities, and the Paseo First Friday in turn has inspired other arts districts in the Oklahoma City area to plan their own monthly festivities.
“She really took up the mantle,” said Joy Reed Belt, president of the Paseo Arts Association board of directors and owner of JRB Art at the Elms. “Cynthia did a yeoman's job because during the day she actually would go around and individually try to persuade them (the gallery owners) to open. … Then, it became a wonderful thing, and the idea of it was to make art accessible.”
It's no coincidence that Wolf will launch the 10th anniversary celebration for her Adelante! Gallery during the December First Friday Gallery Walk.
“You just have to keep at it — just like my gallery. It's amazing how it's grown and evolved from the start.”
The anniversary celebration also will coincide with the gallery's fifth “A Cowgirl Christmas,” which this year will feature a few cowboys, too. Adelante! showcases Western, Southwestern and contemporary fine art, and Texan Donna Howell-Sickles will make her debut at the gallery as part of the festivities, which include Friday's artists reception, open houses and art demonstrations.
“She's a female Western artist of renown that's got some of her big work here … and I don't know where else they (art lovers) would see that in Oklahoma City, or in Oklahoma actually,” Wolf said.
The December exhibit also will include works by New Mexico landscape painter Leigh Gusterson, Colorado trout painter Nora Larimer, Oklahoma sculptor Patsy E. Lane, Oregon plein-air painter Nancy Smith, Oklahoma pastel painters Jan Hutchison and Becky Way, Arizona contemporary cowboy artist Michael Swearngin, New Mexico landscape artist Clive R. Tyler, Oklahoma saddlemaker John Rule and Oklahoma landscape painter Thomas Stotts.
“I love art. I love selling art. I love connecting people to the art that speaks to them,” Wolf said. “All these people show in these museum shows across the country, and I just feel blessed that I'm able to do this.”