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Arts on9 Christens the New On 9 First Friday series Tonight, June 1

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Big doings in Ninth Square tonight (the first of June), and in fact on the first Friday of every month for the forseeable future. On 9 First Fridays celebrates what a press release dubs the “vibrant streetscape of Ninth Square in 2012” with special events, exhibits, performances, sales and consumer-consciousness-raising in general.

On 9 First Friday is  organized by a new organization of Ninth Square businesses owners, some of whom are new to the neighborhood themselves. The just-opened Green Well Organic Coffee and Tea at 44 Crown Street was the site of an On 9 press conference last week and is also hosting a kick-off event for the first On 9 First Friday tonight. Glenn Roth will play on the coffeehouse’s stage, landscape paintings by Bill Revill will decorate the walls, and an anagrammatic “ARTS juice” made of apple, rhubarb and tangerine will be served.

Green Well is just the starting place. This month’s First Friday theme is “Arts on9,” and features a pretty wild and diverse intro to the wild and woolly Ninth Square: celebrated local drag queen Robin Banks (who won a Dorothy Award from the New Haven Pride Center this year) leading a Bingo game at Café Nine (followed by WNHU’s “T in the Afternoon Presents” series); the grand opening of Neville Wisdom's NW Fashion Design Studio at 63 Orange St.; a slew of gallery exhibits at Project Storefronts, the Euphoria Salon, The Grove, Artspace and elsewhere; free film screenings on the walls of English Market and ACME Office Furniture; sales and ringcleaning specials at some of the neighborhood’s jewelry shops; plus stuff that would be happening anyway, like the much-hyped Allison Miller BOOM TIC BOOM jazz performances 8:30 & 10 p.m. at Firehouse 12.

At last week's press conference, Chris Ortwein of the tub-thumping Town Green Special Services District's Economic Prosperity Initiative crowed "It's art, it's food, it's life, and it's all happening here!"

Whether On 9 First Fridays will shape up to be as big a deal as, say, a similar First Thursday event was in Hartford a decade or two ago, remains to be seen. Whether this becomes a gathering thing folks throng to for one night a month is kind of beside the point. The point is to demonstrate the dynamism of an area that’s still stereotyped as a restaurant row—the part of town you go to BEFORE you go shop or see a show elsewhere. The On 9 aggregation proves that the Ninth Square can provide a full, well-rounded night of entertainment, enlightenment, shopping and eating within the space of a few dense, culture-packed blocks.

The full sched for tonight’s Arts on9 is here.

And remember, most of this stuff doesn’t fade away at the end of the night. The gallery shows will be up for weeks, the stores and salons will be open, Green Well will be serving coffee, and Ninth Square—already one of the great economic turnaround success stores in the history of New Haven—will enter a new phase of community awareness.

Onward, On 9!

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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