Community Arts brings back First Thursday events


JASPER — Jasper Community Arts’ First Thursdays are back, and JCA staff hope it’s going to be better than ever before.

The First Thursday Community Showcase, which began in 2012, has been postponed since before the Thyen-Clark Cultural Center even opened due to COVID-19 concerns. The monthly event, which previously took place at the Krempp Gallery, is meant to give the public an opportunity to learn about the arts and support local businesses.

This month’s First Thursday is today from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Thyen-Clark Cultural Center. Each month, visitors will be able to browse the three art galleries, learn about the artists and grab some free food from a local restaurant. This Thursday will feature the Jasper Pub ‘N’ Grub. In future months, there will also be a cash bar for beer and wine.

Visual Arts Coordinator Emily Colucci Peak said she anticipates the monthly event bringing in even more visitors than before, now that it will take place at the Cultural Center.

“Since there’s three galleries now, it’s going to be more of a celebration,” Peak said. It’ll be something that you can look forward to at the same time every month, and there will always be something new to see. This month, we’re just kind of putting out feelers since there’s all the festivities going on with Strassenfest, but I expect to see it grow in future months just because of our location.”

The three exhibits on display today will be those of metalsmith and Jasper native Stacey Lee Webber, the Dubois County Art Guild and the Patoka Valley Quilters Guild.

“The local artists are always popular, and 2020 was definitely good to a lot of these artists, especially the quilters, because they have produced so much,” Peak said. “We have quilts hanging from the rafters, hanging from the walls, over the pedestals. We could have used a whole other gallery for their work.”

Webber, who now lives in Philadelphia, is displaying art such as pennies welded together to form different shapes. Featured artists will be invited to speak and answer questions at each event but will not be required.

Although JCA feels comfortable enough to start hosting First Thursday events again, social distancing will still be encouraged and any food served will be pre-plated.

“We’re not sharing the utensils, we’re not sharing the chip bowl or whatnot,” Peak said. “We still want to keep everybody safe, both the patrons and the artists.”

The Jasper Public Library will remain open during the event so visitors can roam the entire Cultural Center. Peak said she hopes keeping the rest of the building open will encourage visitors to explore and find another reason to visit again.

“Hopefully then they can come back for an activity or a workshop they see down the hall or something,” she said. “We really just want to get the traffic back in here so everyone can see everything we have to offer.”

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