Brawley’s First Fridays and Local Artists Celebrate First Anniversary

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Local artist Robert “Rob” Wendell paints clouds Friday evening during Brawley First Fridays’ one year anniversary.

BRAWLEY – “Oh how time flies,” could be the perfect expression for Brawley First Fridays’ artwalk as the event celebrated its one year anniversary Friday evening, and hundreds gathered to join in the festivity.

“I am so proud of Brawley First Fridays for their one year anniversary,” said Rosemary Wood, NoCCA Executive Director. “I am happy to see the youth getting involved and organizing art walks. They are doing such a fabulous job.”

Founded by artists Anthony Alvarez and Randy Galvan, the Brawley First Fridays event was created March 6, 2015 with over 15 vendors, numerous artists and bands participating. One year later, the showcase is still going strong with increasing crowds.

“Brawley First Fridays was created specifically for local artist and small businesses to have an opportunity to showcase their talent and their items,” said Galvan. “Since we began, we have seen an increase in vendors and music bands interested in participating. It feels great to be celebrating one year from its initiation and welcome artists, vendors and businesses to participate.”

For the upcoming year, Galvan hopes to create a space for children of all ages, including toddlers, where they will have an opportunity to draw and leave their mark in addition to participating in interactive booths. The artwork created will then be displayed during future events.

“It’s so much fun coming out here and enjoying an evening of music and, of course, seeing the many artists painting out in the open,” said Karen Ayala. “This is an event I look forward to attending every month, especially after a long day of work.”

Local vendors Chris and Karen Sanchez, owners of “Early Girl Creations,” displayed their variety of handmade natural goods such as loofah soaps, face and body soaps, lip balms and oils.

“Participating in these art walks and displaying our product has helped us enormously,” said Chris Sanchez. “People have the opportunity to not only see what we sell, but they can also try it before they purchase it. They get to know our product and that is important to us. People have opened their doors to us and return to buy our products, this makes us very happy.”

The couple’s four-year-old son was born with eczema (a skin condition that causes scaly patches and red skin) and after consulting with numerous physicians who were unable to cure the disease, the couple began reading labels on the body products they purchased and decided to create their own.

“It was very concerning to see my son with that skin disorder and not being able to help him, until one day I decided to create my own soaps,” said Karen Sanchez. “My son no longer has eczema. As consumers we really don’t pay attention to the products we buy and what they contain. It is important that we know what we are using and that is why I decided to sell this product and share it with people who want to better their skin condition.”

Additionally, Chris Sanchez said participating in these events gives vendors the opportunity to meet other vendors and businesses, exchange information and shop local.

“We used to purchase our oils in other counties, and after meeting the owner of Desert Olive Farms during one of the art walks, we are now buying our oils from them. Our loofah is also grown local so we are local and shopping local helping the economy and other businesses.”

Sharing his talent painting clouds was Robert “Rob” Wendell, owner of the Black Lodge Tattoo Company in El Centro. Wendell has been tattooing for over 11 years and recently discovered his passion for painting.

“I like making people happy with art. I enjoy art in any way, shape or form,” said Wendell. “Brawley’s First Fridays has been very consistent and always make me feel welcomed. Compared to the first time the event took place, I have seen an increase in people assisting and that really makes me happy.”

First Fridays is held every first Friday of the month.

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