Last weekend, public transportation made my Friday night.
For those who don’t know, the Kansas City Public Library’s Central Branch hosts an event called Art Starts at the Library on the First Friday of every month. The library re-opens from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. to provide “a perfect family-friendly starting point for your First Friday,” according to the library’s website.
On Friday, February 2, the festivities included arts and crafts for the little ones, soothing live jams from the saxophone-and-piano ensemble Trio Spiritus, and two art exhibits: on the second floor was Cattle, Cowboys and Culture: Kansas City and Amarillo, Building an Urban West; on the first-floor’s Genevieve Guldner Gallery was This is Really Happening, See?, an everyday-life photography exhibit featuring the work of Casey Lee Holden and Nelson Pereira. Holden highlights the less-than-glamorous reality of her family home life, while Pereira depicts the day-to-day life of his native El Salvador in a grounded celebration of its culture. The theme for the February’s event was Chinese New Year, which meant that a generous sampling of delectable Chinese dishes – as well as beer and wine (gratuities accepted!) – were available free of charge. The event drew a variety of attendees; plenty of families, sure, but also dozens of young adults undoubtedly seeking a jumping-off point for a night of artistic revelry, with First Friday festivities happening just a few blocks south in the Crossroads district.
All in all, the regularly occurring Art Starts in the Library event was a nice find. I awoke on the morning of Friday, February 2, and though the temperatures were still admittedly brisk, I lit off for the nearest bus stop to catch a ride into work. Later in the evening, I would take the 11 Northeast bus route from the front door of the Northeast News building to 9th and Main, less than a block from the Central Library branch. Though the library will actually validate parking for those who prefer to drive, I found that the mere $3 I spent for my RideKC trip to and from work (note: children under 5 years old receive free fare!) actually set me up nicely for an evening in the Crossroads district following the event.
Art Starts at the Library proved to be the perfect start to a nice evening. The event has something for everyone, including the aforementioned Chinese food, of which there was a surprisingly generous sampling of both quantity and quality. They even had fortune cookies; mine predicted that “Your persistence will pay off.” It already did, my friend. It already did.
This isn’t a one-time event, fortunately. The Central Branch runs it back every other First Friday. By my calculations, the Central Branch should host another incarnation on April 6. I would highly recommend taking your local RideKC bus route to the front door of the library – which it should be noted is one of the most beautiful structures in downtown Kansas City. For families, Art Starts at the Library could be the beginning and end of your evening. For the more adventurous, an entire night of art galleries and ambiance in the Crossroads district looms, just a few short KC Streetcar stops away from the 9th and Main stop. The world awaits.