Flint, MI — Four years ago, Flint-based artist Pauly Everett saw a need for local creatives to have a space to share their work.

“I’m out in the streets just trying to get artists and musicians together. Whether I’m doing it voluntarily or getting paid . . . it just has to happen in Flint,” he said.

His efforts have since evolved into First Fridays, an event series highlighting local artists, DJs and musicians in downtown Flint’s Buckham Alley.

The first First Friday event of 2023 begins at 5 p.m. this Friday, June 2, and will feature light installations, original artwork, live painting, vendors and more. Due to the construction equipment in Buckham Alley, the first event on Friday will take place in Brush Alley.

“Going just from, like, a blank canvas of an alley, we definitely change it up and make it pretty bright and vibrant and just fun and safe for everybody to come down and enjoy,” he said. “And it’s a free event, so can’t really go wrong there.”

Everett, who is also the event organizer, said that the series started with a test run in 2020 in Brush Alley, another, smaller downtown space.

“[It was] just wherever we could fit in,” he recalled. “We actually had built a stage out of scrap and just started out with two DJs and a handful of artists.”

Then, as he and fellow organizers received more funding, the event began to grow. More artists and vendors joined, and the food community got involved.

“Every year we’re just more organized, the events are bigger, more artists hear about it,” he said. “So that just brings more creatives in, from younger folks to more established artists and everybody in between.”

By the series’ second year, it had multiple real stages, not just ones built from scraps. Everett and his fellow organizers moved to Buckham Alley, wanting a bigger space for their growing community.

Everett said he invited a lighting professional to come to the alley for 2023 and make the area brighter and complementary to the event’s art and the stages.

“It’s just really colorful and vibrant and helps being the space together,” he said.

The June 2 event will feature a variety of artists and vendors, including Totem Books the Tamale Spot.

Friday’s performers include Caleb Robinson + Reaching, DJ Thunder and Eduardo Scizzahandz. Other artists and vendors include Everett, Kens, Taylor Blossom, Ransom McCarty, Kelly Martin, J Woo, Chris Gibson, Holly Smith, Isiah Lattimore, Charlotte Art and Media Reload.

The event series will continue on the first Friday of each month until September, or October if it’s not too cold out, Everett said.

Sophia is Flint Beat's City Hall reporter. She joins the team after previously reporting for the Livingston Daily and the Lansing State Journal, along with some freelance work with The New York Times....