Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

April 6, 2013

Season’s first Friday big hit

Tim Preston
The Independent

ASHLAND — Winchester Avenue filled with classic and custom cars early Friday evening as throngs of art lovers made their way through galleries and visited new businesses in the downtown arts district during the first Downtown Live and First Friday ArtWalk of 2013.

“We’ve had a great crowd, the weather is perfect and the music is just fantastic. This is just a great way to start out Downtown Live 2013,” said on obviously jubilant Ashland Main Street Main Street executive director Danny Craig, as members of The Return served up classic rock selections including songs by Neil Young, Jimi Hendrix and Billy Squier from the main stage.

The crowd, made up largely of couples and families, often began their First Friday tour at Highlands Museum and Discovery Center, where an inflatable Starlab planetarium awaited curious visitors and the music of father-and-son team of Tom and Isaac Stephens welcomed an audience to the small theater inside the museum’s country music exhibit area.

Inflatables captured the attention of many younger First Friday guests, as adults and teens gravitated toward the staggering assembly of custom and antique cars, trucks and motorcycles, which seemed to have been waiting for the first good day of downtown cruise-in action. Among the crowd’s favorites were Mike Phelps’ 1967 Buick Sportwagon, Keith Watts’ highly modified 1998 Toyota truck with elaborate “Joker’s Wild” paint lowered to practically pavement level, an elegant but wicked looking 1948 Buick owned by Frank Mullins and a hot-rod rendition of the 1972 Ford Pinto.

Particularly notable to some roaming the streets and admiring vehicles was the 1968 Chevrolet truck owned by Kelly and Judy Yates of Flatwoods. The mint-condition pickup with 80,000 original miles was purchased new by Leonard Childers of the Johnson County community of Thelma and sold to the Yates by his son, Charles.

On the street at the bottom of the staircase leading to The Upstairs Gallery, musicians Brian Brown, Justin Grim and Josh Daniels performed as “Ancient Youth,” while featured artist Laura Moul took time to greet gallery guests and discuss aspects of her photography exhibit, which included images Moul captured between 1994 and the present. Moul said she is looking forward to a journey to Hawaii next week, explaining the journey will allow her to say she has photographed subjects in 50 states.

Inside the Pendleton Arts Center, visitors strolled through the open studio spaces and visited with resident artists, as well as browsing the juried art exhibit near the front windows. Guitarist/vocalist and keyboard player Dennis Watts, the husband of Pendleton artist Andrea Prince, performed a set of acoustic songs, sometimes with the assistance of his brother, Jeff, including songs by Hank Williams and Johnny Cash, while CCC Trail Cafe owner Jim Ross worked up a sweat delivering meals to his guests of the evening.

At the Camayo Arcade building, many First Friday visitors made a point of visiting the recently opened La-Tee-Da Boutique, which sponsored a fashion show as part of the evening’s festivities, as well as the custom hat and accessory designer at Haut Panache. Longtime business owner Jim Crum and staff also tended to a constant stream of guests who had an obvious appetite for his restaurant’s spaghetti, hot dogs and burgers.

The evening wrapped up with a continuation of the popular Ashland Main Street Songwriters Showcase. Singer/songwriters Shane Runion and Devon Hale.

TIM PRESTON can be reached at tpreston@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2651.