Asha Zero’s exhibition at Smac gallery in the Trumpet Building, Keyes Avenue, Rosebank
Asha Zero’s exhibition at Smac gallery in the Trumpet Building, Keyes Avenue, Rosebank
Image: Supplied

First Thursdays was an inspired idea. In a country where we spend far too much time in our cars and far too little on our feet in the streets, I loved the concept of encouraging an art crawl in downtown Cape Town on the first Thursday of every month.

The movement was also embraced by bars and eateries in Cape Town’s art district and First Thursdays soon became the go-to art event of the month with many galleries scheduling exhibition openings for the first Thursday of the month. I’m sure many were there for the wine, but by and large this was the culture crowd starting a movement to make art more fun and less inaccessible.

Naturally we Joburgers were delighted when First Thursdays moved up north and galleries from Braamfontein to Rosebank got in on the late night action on the first Thursday of every month.

Art gallery openings are something of a social comfort zone for art lovers: You could quite easily go to any exhibition opening, confident in the knowledge that you would bump into friends and or even new but like-minded acquaintances. First Thursdays was simply the exhibition opening party taken to the next level with mobile bars thrown in for good measure.

I hadn’t First Thursday-ed for a while, and last week arranged to meet some friends in Rosebank for an early evening dose of art, followed by dinner at one of the many lovely eating spots along Keyes Avenue.

Were we in for a surprise: First Thursdays – in Rosebank, at least – is now less of an art happening and more of a simply fabulous street party, complete with food trucks, mobile gin and ice-cream bars – and thousands of beautiful people, many of whom are possibly pushing their luck when it comes to the legal drinking age.

It’s a great night out, especially on a balmy late summer evening. We sipped gin and tonic on the pavement, listened to some great live music and popped into the cool boutiques along Keyes Avenue beneath the dramatic Trumpet building. Art? Well, not so much, to be honest. The Asha Zero collages at Smac were delightful, but the tight collection was all the art on offer at Keyes Avenue.

We learnt that, on the upper end of Rosebank, Everard Read and Circa galleries were no longer opening for First Thursdays because the crowd simply wasn’t their market. As we started to explore our dinner options and discovered hundreds of youngsters queuing at BGR, the Milk Bar and all the food trucks, it dawned upon us that First Thursdays as we knew it, might just have moved on. Upon closer examination, the crowd turned out to be a lot younger than us, and I recognised several children belonging to friends of mine.

Look, I know this is hardly devastating news, just worth a warning to those who’ve missed the evolution of First Thursdays as I clearly had. Do your homework if it’s art you’re after and perhaps we should have started at Krut and the Goodman Gallery.

Clearly out-numbered by the Keyes Avenue crowd, we took a moonlight walk down Jan Smuts Avenue to the Bolton Road Collection (when last did you do that?) and enjoyed a most delicious meal at a pavement table.

So at least First Thursdays is still getting us out of our cars, now we just need to find our way back into the art galleries.

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