Oceanside has taken art to a new level, and you can take advantage of it by visiting their First Friday Art Walk. Every month on the first Friday, from 5 to 9 pm, the streets come alive with live music, artists, food, and lots of art displays…and it’s all free! Not just at the galleries, but on the street, in parking lots, alleys, restaurants, and inside several businesses. When my husband and I arrived at about 6:00 pm, the First Friday Art Walk was in full swing!
Where does the First Friday Art Walk take place?
I’d say the center of activities was the intersection of Pier View Way and N. Freeman Street in Oceanside. The Oceanside Public Library is right there, as well as Artist Alley and the Oceanside Museum of Art.
When we arrived, we found free parking easily on S. Coast Hwy, right next to the library. There are several locations where you can pick up a map to show you all the galleries and businesses that are participating. We picked ours up at Artist Alley.
What will I see at the First Friday Art Walk?
A little bit of everything. And it’s not just displayed art. Part of the fun was hearing the different bands playing as we walked along the streets. We saw paintings displayed, artists creating sculptures and various art media, street art on the sides of buildings, murals, carvings, photography, ceramics, and a reception for the FilAm Art Alive Festival. There was even an impromptu group of drummers playing. You can sit down and join in if you want to!
At the end of Artist Alley, we were welcomed into Century 21, 501 Mission Ave, for a meet and greet with local artists. I enjoyed meeting Kathleen Ossiander, an Oceanside artist who creates colorful ocean-themed art that really appealed to me. I was thrilled when she gave me a few of her notecards showcasing her work! It makes the art more meaningful when you can stand face-to-face with the person who created it.
Just down the street is the Oceanside Art Gallery, at 701 Mission Ave. It’s a family-owned community-supported art center. A band was playing there, and art was displayed inside and outside on the sidewalk.
When you visit First Friday Art Walk, several locations give out “VIP” bracelets that give you 10% off at participating restaurants and artists’ vendor booths. You can also ride on an Oceanside Pedi-Cab, although we were very comfortable walking to all the venues.
Oceanside’s Street Art is fantastic
In this small section of Oceanside, there is a high concentration of painted murals on building exteriors. You turn a corner and there’s more art! Walk down the street a block or so, and there’s some more! I do like being pleasantly surprised.
Oceanside Art Museum is the icing on the cake
We closed our art walk by visiting the Oceanside Art Museum. It’s a first-class art museum, and their exhibits really drew us in. The best part is that during First Friday Art Walk, admission is half-price. I highly recommend making a visit because there is art for everyone’s tastes — traditional, whimsical, thought-provoking, and even daring. You’ll find it all.
One particular exhibit, called “Scarred for Life” was intriguing not only for its art but also its emotional draw. Each piece of artwork was accompanied by a photograph of a subject who had suffered a life-altering injury, the scars of which were painted and embellished with symbols. I felt a connection with each of the victims as I read their stories, studied the art and thought about their experience. It is not often that art makes me feel something this strongly.
Another exhibit reminded me of Dr. Seuss illustrations, but even with the whimsy, there was the opportunity to think about moving parts and the way things work together.
I also really admired the VetArt exhibit of bronze-casted sculptures of the faces of men in the military. There are stories in those faces.
After leaving the art museum, my husband and I strolled down the street to the Oceanside Pier, which was lit for the evening. We stood for a few moments and enjoyed the sound of the waves and the cool breeze. It is not often that art makes me feel as educated and serene as it did this Friday evening. I like feeling and seeing and exploring new things and the associated emotions that go with those experiences. The Oceanside First Friday Art Walk did just that for me. I hope you’ll enjoy it too.
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