December is the big cheese of First Thursdays. With roving gangs of holiday shoppers on the prowl, every shoe store and sandwich shop tries to lure folks in with discounts and thimbles-full of wine.
One particularly rad thing about First Thursday in December is the ample eye-candy distracting you as you wander from gallery to gallery. The fourth-annual Winter Window Gallery Stroll invites local artists to spruce up downtown storefronts with colorful window accoutrements. Rick "Paste Eater" Walter's fantastical cartoonish snow monster adorns the windows of Flying M Coffeehouse while Kerry Tullis, Amy O'Brien and Blaise Lawless' designs will be splattered over the windows at the Modern Hotel and Bar.
If you're a humansicle from all the outside window gazing, head into Art Source Gallery at 1015 Main St., and defrost with a dark brew from Deschutes Brewery. Each year, Deschutes commissions an Oregon artist to create the label for its holiday Jubelale beer. In addition to viewing the artwork and sampling this year's spicy concoction, beer-lovers can also cart home a free limited-edition retrospective poster.
Those who want to escape the downtown chaos can tie a ribbon around their First Thursday evening with a stop at painter Molly Hill's "String Theory" exhibit at J Crist Gallery. Though the space at 223 S. 17th St. has been closed for a while, owner Jacqueline Crist offered to let Hill rent the gallery for a show that runs through the weekend.
"My plan was to rent a downtown storefront space, and just in conversations, in chatting with Jacque ... she said, 'Well, why don't you rent the gallery?'" explained Hill.
For this exhibit, Hill decided to further explore a theme that has wound through her work for the past few years: strings.
"I started thinking about strings being active, wrapping and connecting and the term string theory popped into my head," said Hill. "Physicists are discovering that objects aren't as separated as we think; everything is connected in some way."
One of Hill's new pieces, Duet, features a somber-faced Asian acrobat character holding a red string attached to the leg of a zebra. Hill's underlying message? Everyone's connected. Even the zebras.