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Gallery Night Returned With Art And Music And A Long-Awaited Night Out

Bob Barrett
WUWF Public Media
Palafox Place on Gallery Night

Downtown Pensacola was the place to be last Friday as hundreds of people crowded Palafox Place to celebrate the return of Gallery Night. The air was filled with aromas from food vendors and the sounds of music from musicians playing in about every corner of the street. And there was art.

“I am so happy to see Gallery Night come back,” said artist Sharon Cope. She had a display of her work that highlighted African-American women and said the pandemic allowed her to dive deeper into her artwork. “We were able to really go in, and really pull out so much of what was lying dormant inside of us. Because that pandemic changed our lives! I’ll speak personally; it changed MY life as an artist. And it just really caused me to look back (and) be mindful of what I’m painting. I always was, but with so much going on right now, it was just a way for me to really go, hear from Him, and move forward.”

“Everybody’s just so happy to be here. To be out and to have life feel a lot (more) normal now” said Justin Dahlstrom, another artist set up along Palafox Place displaying colorful seascapes and sunsets. She had been to about a half dozen Gallery Nights in the past and was happy to see the event return. “I am so excited for Gallery Night. The excitement, a band just went by, this is wonderful.”

And there were bands everywhere. A band of high school students that called themselves Lot G was playing at the Stevenson/Klotz stage on the corner of Palafox and Government Street. That stage was booked all night Friday with some young people performing for an audience for the first time.

Bob Barrett
WUWF Public Media
Nancy Ball, an artist with the Visual Arts Association of Northwest Florida was set up with an easel and a painting of Seville Square in front of the Artel Gallery.

There were also artists performing on the street. Nancy Ball, an artist with the Visual Arts Association of Northwest Florida was set up with an easel and a painting of a local landmark in front of the Artel Gallery. “Well, this is (a painting of) Seville Square, a couple of blocks over from here,” said Ball. “And it’s a painting that I did on location, and right now I’m just fine-tuning it (and) bringing it together.”

The Visual Arts Association was also distributing information about their scholarship program for local artists. “The organization has to do with mentoring artists from all over northwest Florida,” said Pat Page, an artist and a past president of the association. “We (hope to) educate people here at Gallery Night, and then eventually they may be tempted to go to our website and apply for a grant or a scholarship. We are going to give away 75 hundred dollars this year. It will be in increments of $500, and (the grants) will go to art educators, they will go to art students, (and) they will go to working artists.”

People were taking that information, as well as walking around and browsing the artwork, enjoying a beverage, and just enjoying being out with their neighbors again. Bob Towson, an artist at Quayside Gallery in Pensacola summed it up like this. “I think people are ready to get out and do some shopping and mix and mingle. And schmooze, that’s what Gallery Night’s all about.”

The next chance to do a little schmoozing at Gallery Night will be Friday, August 20.

Bob Barrett has been a radio broadcaster since the mid 1970s and has worked at stations from northern New York to south Florida and, oddly, has been able to make a living that way. He began work in public radio in 2001. Over the years he has produced nationally syndicated programs such as The Environment Show and The Health Show for Northeast Public Radio's National Productions.