Main Street Open Late For First Friday

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Patrons attending Payson's second First Friday Night Art and Antiques Walk on historic Main Street had the chance to enjoy live music, view classic cars and visit several art galleries and other shops that stayed open late into the evening.

Payson Regional Economic Development Corporation and the Main Street Merchants Guild sponsored the event, which will continue to be held the first Friday of each month from 5 to 8 p.m. through October.

"We missed First Friday in May but decided to take a look this time and join the festivities," said Sue Bernhardt, while browsing in the newly opened Integrity: An International Art Gallery. "It's wonderful. There are a lot of creative people here."

A short stroll away, Down the Street Art Gallery held a reception for its featured artists of the month, Teri Kennedy and Mariska Stoddard.

Kennedy's oil paintings hung next to "found object" metal wind chimes.

"They're made of metal and other found objects," said Kennedy, who also crafts glass beads and silver jewelry. "I put them all together to make something useful and pretty-sounding."

In the adjoining room, Stoddard's beaded jewelry and crochet purses hung beneath a wool picture of an African American woman done in punch-needle style.

"It's a real live lady who lives in Kenya and is the caretaker of a compound," Stoddard said. "It is a job of honor. A friend of mine painted her while living there and I asked if I could use the idea."

Other eye-catching art included classic cars stationed at Gasoline Alley and other businesses.

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The sun sets upon classic cars at Gasoline Alley, as First Friday nears to a close.

"The merchants thought if we put cars here, it might attract more people," said Boyd Miller, standing next to his yellow, ‘75 Dodge pickup truck parked in front of Bootleg Alley Antiques and Art. "It's working. People do stop and look."

Visitors were enticed not only by sights, but sounds, as Joe and Katherine Miracle performed classic tunes by Bob Dylan, Van Morrison and Jimmy Buffett outside Git a Rope! Trading Co.

But, while arts and entertainment were in abundance, a crowd was not.

"I hope more people come out because it's nice, especially when the weather is good," said resident Reed Cox. "It's cool to see all this artwork."

The event should be advertised more, said Charles "Chuz" Shillingburg and Phyllis "Philly" Haddon, who were promoting their country dance lessons and selling tickets for the Tonto Rim Search and Rescue fund-raiser.

"We've had quite a few people come by, but we need more signage to let additional people know about it," Haddon said.

Down the Street founder Minette Richardson said she thinks attendance will get better with time.

"I'd like to see it every Friday and then block the street once a month," Richardson said. "You've got to have big dreams."

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