Story by Lynn Cook
Photo by Elyse Butler
“Hey, Mom, Dad! There’s a guy on the sidewalk with a stick on fire!” Chris and Sarah Bain’s 6-year-old son, Henry, has what they call an active imagination, but he wasn’t seeing things. “When we looked down Pauahi Street,” Chris says, “sure enough someone had a flaming baton.”
The man passed it to a white satin-clad dancer who began twirling the baton, which was longer than she was tall. Strains of acoustic guitar filled the street, ever faster as the dancer tossed the baton higher and higher.
It’s a Slow Art Friday, the third Friday of the month, in the twelve-block radius of Honolulu’s Arts District, home to dozens of art galleries, shops and restaurants. In a scene half Mexican plaza and half Italian piazza, strings of lights twinkle overhead as dusk rolls across Pauahi Street.
Rich Richardson, from the Arts at Marks Garage gallery, and Kimi Morton Chun of the Peggy Chun Gallery, started this “kicked-back, casual event” when the First Friday art night grew from a few hundred people browsing the galleries kept open late to thousands of revelers flooding the streets at Honolulu’s biggest outdoor monthly party. Richardson and Chun set out to create a second, family-friendly evening for gallery openings. “A chance,” says Richardson, “to hang out with the artists and have a place for relaxation and thoughtful discussions.” While Slow Art Fridays are mellower than the comparative bacchanale of First Fridays, they’re not that slow: Fire dancers, acrobats and slack rope walkers entertain the crowd.
A forty-foot-long candlelit Europeanstyle “share table” stretches out from the stanchions that close the street to cars. Tent canopies line the sidewalk, under which vendors offer organic wine, stuffed tomatoes from Brasserie du Vin, heritage foods from Soul de Cuba Cafe, Slow Food “froyo” (homemade frozen yogurt) and red velvet cheesecake from Otto Cake.
Young Henry gobbles his cake and beelines toward a row of parked bicycles. “Hey, Dad, can I go home and get my bike? Those guys will park it for me!” To encourage slowing down, Slow Art Friday offers free bike valet service. No charge for training wheels.