Pember Library’s First Friday Solo Act

B y Lee Tugas

Midsummer merrymakers mingled Friday night both inside and outside of the Pember Library and Museum in a First Friday celebration that would have both surprised and pleased a long-absent Granville native with its hospitable mix of food, music, art, and, well, just down-home charm.

More than 50 current Granville residents, including children, mingled together inside or gathered outside on the library steps while music, both classical and jazz, floated in the night air. Art enthusiasts studied dynamic, colorful pieces of folk and abstract art in between bites of all-American food, especially pizza.

“There is nothing elitist or effete about First Friday,” Bo Young said. Young, who helped launch the monthly “community celebration” four years ago, said that both wine and beer are served at First Fridays. He pointed across the wide expanse of the Pember Library to a table, where Jim Paddock, of the newly opened American Pizza Pie and More, served pizza, mini-subs and meatballs covered in marinara sauce. Another vendor had unfortunately canceled, but no one seemed to notice as they nibbled on the delicious Italian-American fare.

Meanwhile, a musical quintet continued to mix Mozart and Vivaldi with Richard Rodgers and Irving Berlin. Former Granville resident Alice Callahan Woods on flute, and Hillary Port on bassoon, both members of North Carolina’s Camblatta Winds, returned to play classical music and many jazz standards from the American Songbook. They were joined by their four local friends and musicians: Laura Coldwell, flute; Arlene Coldwell, clarinet; Judy Flagg, saxaphone, and Sandy Adams, bass. The classical pieces were standards, too—standards by Handel and Bach. But perhaps the most memorable musical moment was a flute duet of Rogers and Hart’s “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered.” The piece was especially enjoyed by several First Friday goers lounging on the stairs of the Pember in the evening twilight.

One of three slated artists had canceled as well, but the vigor, dynamism and sheer color of the works of the two remaining artists dominated the spacious confines of the Pember. Troy Shirt Factory’s Kris Gregson Moss displayed her nationally and internationally exhibited fabric arts and weavings. She explained the principal element or idea behind her work in one word:

“Movement. Definitely. You can see movement in all of my pieces. And color,” she added. Asked if she was an abstract artist, Moss looked at her moving squares and lines and quipped, “Well, I’m definitely not a realist.”

Furniture Restorer Frank Newman spoke with similar good humor about his handmade chairs canned with men’s ties. (No. Men’s ties is not a newspaper misprint.)  Newman explained why he had switched from rush caning antique chairs to caning with colorful arrays of neck ware.

“I don’t like rush caning,” he said. “I had to come up with something. I had a bunch of neckties, and what you see around you is the result.” Just to show visitors that he still produced rush caned chairs, Newman had several such chairs displayed atop library book cases.

Usually First Friday is a joint effort of both Pember and Slate Valley Museums, but the latter museum had another commitment on Saturday. Pember officials were pleased with their first “solo flight,” and considered the two score and 10 turnout to be an excellent showing of local interest, considering it is mid-summer and there are so many other competing attractions.

Young summed up the upbeat mood when he said it was never about numbers at First Friday.

“It’s the buzz,” he said, gesturing to all of the people milling about, smiling and talking. “It’s always a good turn out. And that’s how you know. The buzz.”

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