This past Friday marked Tivoli’s first edition of their First-Est Friday art exhibition. The warehouse that houses the company is located on the upper side of King St, right under the bridge that merges Highway 17 with I-26, and next door to the Butcher and Bee. First-Est Friday is a singular event as far as Charleston goes, displaying whatever artwork artists choose to show in their individual studios, which line the inner walls of the building, while also providing a live DJ set for standard party frivolity. I did not notice any overarching artistic theme exhibited in the collective studios, but there were a couple of studios which featured objects that gave off an Americana vibe, such as a CB radio or a 1950s TV set, that were painted or artistically reconfigured. My favorite studio was one of the more spacious ones and had an older record player, seemingly unmarred by the artist, which was surrounded by cover sleeves of vinyl records with paint splattered on them a la Jackson Pollock. I don’t know if it’s fair to lump this brand of art into the broad category of “postmodern”, as that term has come to be limiting in my opinion, but I am a fan of art that is portrayed through unexpected canvases, so this exhibition was refreshing.
Everything seemed to be running smoothly for an art exhibition taking place in an environment that had the constructs of a house party, until around midnight when an incident outside the main entrance forced everybody to remain either indoors or in the patio area (for smokers). Several friends and I entered through the door on the other side of the building when first arriving at the event, not knowing about the five dollar admission fee being charged at the main entrance. Most of us were outside the alternate entrance when the aforementioned incident occurred, which is still a mystery to me, and when we were prompted to return inside we were finally informed of the fee. After I gladly payed admission and received the “Tivoli” logo on my right wrist, the staff member who collected it discussed how they had consistent issues with organizing. It seems like a fairly obvious plan to have an employee working each door to check wrists and collect admission, which indicates a manager not controlling his employees or events very effectively.
It was an interesting show, and the format of an art exhibition you could dance at is something I would like to see more of. I would recommend it to any artistically inclined individual who wants a change from the bar scene elsewhere on King St.