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You're free to enjoy the Art March
And all the other Independence Day weekend parties
Body paint artist Jen Salmon, a past Art March participant, will be on hand for the 4th of July block party festivities. - photo by Clinton Edminster

First Friday Art March Independence Day Festival

Where: DeSoto Avenue at 40th Street

When: 6-9 p.m. Friday, July 4

Admission: Free

The July edition of the First Friday Art March has strategically morphed into a full-out Fourth of July art festival and bock party.

The 27th consecutive edition of Art Rise’s monthly gallery crawl and all-around artistic celebration will focus squarely on a single slab of concrete—the foundation of a long-gone building—at the north end of DeSoto Avenue.

The first Friday in July happens to be Independence Day itself, and so the organizers of the Art March saw a golden opportunity to further broadcast their mission—bringing local focus to the creative hub that is the Starland District—by concentrating visual art, music, family crafts and cook-out goodies into three pseudo-patriotic hours.

Well, there was another, more practical reason, according to executive director Clinton Edminster. “For July we got two responses back, from businesses saying that they would participate in the Art March, and so we decided we couldn’t do it with only two,” he says.

“So instead of canceling it, we really focused down to turning it from an Art Walk into an art festival. We already had all the activities put together, and we had all the connections. We decided that if we took it one more step it could be really awesome.”

Spitfire Poetry Group’s Marquice Williams emcees the One West Victory stage, with performances by KidSyc, Shapes and Their Names, DJ Snakes, Spitfire and the eclectic funk duo Xulu Prophet.

As always, it’s a collaborative effort, not only between different community organizations and individuals, but between various artistic disciplines.

Art Rise’s Spin Art project takes old vinyl records (from Graveface Records & Curiosities, right across the street) and upcycles them into works of art. Switzon Wigfall III and Carolyn Hepler-Smith are providing projection mapping and video art to light up the entire street.

Body paint artist Jen Salmon will return, and an installation by Naimar Ramirez, recipient of Art Rise Savannah’s Exhibition Fellowship, will be on exhibit in the Fresh Exhibitions Gallery.

Waits & Co. (well, Jon and Markus) will play in the Foxy Loxy Café courtyard.

Add to this a local art market, Southbound Brewery’s craft beer “art bar,” and Casa Su Bistro-grilled dogs, burgers and veggies. And it’s all free.

The monthly Art March, says Edminster, “is a constant heartbeat, and that’s what I really dig about it. I’ve lived in the Starland district for the past four years now, and I really enjoy it. I enjoy the businesses that I go to, and all the little nooks, crannies and fun stuff around here.

“And by giving it a platform that allows it to be more accessible, and to shine a little bit brighter than it usually does, I think it radiates throughout the entire rest of the month. You can brighten an area quite a bit just by focusing on that one first Friday of every month.”

• The Savannah Waterfront Association does a massive fireworks show every Fourth of July, right there over the dark waters of the Savannah River. What changes every year is what they wrap around the pyrotechnics, to get everybody on River Street all greased up and celebratory. This time out, there are three nights of fireworks, July 4, 5 and 6, around 9 p.m. each time out. Friday’s bash includes the bands Those Cats (at 6 p.m.) and The Hypnotics (at 8). Radio Birds (formerly JK & the Lost Boys) play at 8 p.m. Saturday. (On Sunday, guess you got to make your own music for the fireworks.)

• Don’t forget that the Independence Day fireworks at the Tybee Island Pier and Pavilion are beautifully blown into the Atlantic sky on Thursday the 3rd of July, not Friday the 4th. You can see the show from anywhere on the beach, pretty much, but if you show up on the actual 4th of July, there won’t be much to see. Just sayin.’