BEST ART GALLERY - 2010
First Amendment Arts
There's a lot more to galleries than what hangs on their walls. Sure, art is important, especially in a metropolitan area where so many people make and buy it. But most of the area's outstanding spaces excel more because of things their proprietors do than the fruits of any given artist's labors. One of the most important is bringing people together. Ever since they started replacing the centuries-old patronage system in the late 19th century, galleries have functioned as face-to-face social-media sites, connecting to customers with the promise of free refreshments, a convivial atmosphere, engaging banter, a chance to get laid—the basic "ideal night out." Art of This, SooVac, Rogue Buddha, Gallery 13, and at least a dozen other local standouts regularly bait their hooks with music, too, which is where First Amendment truly rises above the crowd. As the basement-level retail presence of Northeast-based graphics and music powerhouse Burlesque of North America, the gallery has been hosting exemplary shows ever since P.O.S. headlined its grand opening in '07. First Amendment also stands head and shoulders above most galleries in giving people reasons to buy stuff. The graphics-intensive operation makes it easy to get an affordable, signed piece you really like for less than the price of bottle service at most downtown nightclubs. Even with the fine-artist likes of Jennifer Davis or Jake Keeler, the gallery makes a point of offering prints—often made on the premises. Get to the right opening early enough, and you might even see one getting finished.