TGIF: Indy’s own First Friday

Celebrate the first Friday of every month in downtown Indy. Photo by Katerina Anderson.


Last Friday night?

Bulldogs either danced on tabletops with Pitbull or hit the boulevard. 

With Butler’s campus not far from downtown Indianapolis, students are encouraged to seek new adventures outside of their university community and the “Butler bubble.” Local Indianapolis businesses and organizations open their doors for a collection of experiences on the First Friday of every month. 

Across downtown Indianapolis, Noblesville and Carmel, the arts are alive. Corporate companies sponsor this monthly event by hosting small-town musicians to perform at various venues: giving local performers a chance to promote their careers to a larger crowd. Multiple galleries participate in this event: from studios in Massachusetts Avenue to North Delaware Street. Even select artists hold special exhibitions only on First Friday.

Unfamiliar with the area? Massachusetts Avenue is a vibrant five-block area full of culture and community. Full of local restaurants, small businesses, independent boutiques, art galleries and top-rated breweries, there is something for everyone on Mass Ave.    

Yet, unique experiences like First Friday or hidden gems of Mass Ave remain unknown to Butler students. The Butler Collegian checked out the Sept. 2nd First Friday to explore the arts of Indianapolis.  

What is First Friday? 

For starters, Indianapolis is not the only city to hold a First Friday. Nationwide cities use the first Friday of every month to present a culmination of local arts, music and food. Indianapolis First Fridays are art-orientated, presenting a compilation of Indianapolis’ finest arts on this once-a-month occasion. 

The Sept. 2nd First Friday was jam-packed with various experiences from live music at the Irving Theater to local artists and musicians hosted by the F.C. Tucker Company on Massachusetts Avenue. Showcasing the talent of Indianapolis is the primary focus of this monthly event. 

For some artists, First Friday is the only night where their studio is open for free to the public. Circle City Industrial Complex was one of the galleries that celebrated the Indianapolis arts last Friday night.

The Circle City Industrial Complex houses the largest selection of artistic mediums, with over 100 artists’ studios to peruse. Newly reopened in 2020 with multiple galleries, an award-winning brewery, a cocktail bar and an ice cream shop; the Circle City Industrial Complex is one of the top-rated First Friday locations

Artists were eager to share their passion for their pieces with attendees, but also offer advice to intrigued students. Matt Hurdle, an atmospheric, abstract, contemporary landscape painter, whose artwork was featured during First Friday, stressed the importance of these events and why Butler students should attend future First Fridays.

“[First Friday] is the opportunity for artists to present their work,” Hurdle said. “There aren’t many places that will let anyone openly put out their work … it’s important that students take advantage of these events to explore [different artistic environments].” 

In the details

When touring the facility during First Friday, it was evident the passion, hard work and dedication these artists have for their careers. When speaking to various artists they all stressed the importance of First Fridays and the goal of promoting their work to a greater audience. 

Photographer Shaun Niles, whose studio was open for display during this event, also emphasized the significance of events like First Friday.

“There’s such a wide diversity of artists, media and genres,” Niles said. “I think it exposes people to learn and discover different opportunities.”

Painting and photographs were not the only mediums on display; recycled design, jewelry, clay work and more were all presented to the community. Most of the art was available for purchase as well. 

However, for those who do not seek interest in perusing galleries. Visitors were encouraged to check out the other sections of the Circle City Industrial Complex, such as their wood and metal shops. For those over 21, they could also enjoy beverages from Centerpoint Brewing or 8th Day Distillery. Regardless of age, various local restaurants are also housed inside the complex.

New experiences for Bulldogs

A few Bulldogs were in attendance at First Friday. Ella Tucker, a first-year history and political science major, was completely unaware of this event until it passed in conversation.

“I’m from Illinois, so [First Friday] was something new in Indianapolis I’d never heard of before,” Tucker said. “I was able to come with a group of friends, and it was a great time to wind down and appreciate some really awesome art from some local artists.” 

Yet, events like this are not regularly publicized, and students, like Tucker, are unaware of the local creativity occurring beyond the campus grounds.

“I did wish that this [event] was advertised more by Butler so that more students know about these really exciting events going on,” Tucker said. “Knowing events like this exist is really cool, and I look forward to the next First Friday in Indianapolis.”

Artists like Hurdle and Niles hope to see more Butler students next month exploring the community and appreciating the local innovative talent.

Interested in attending the next First Friday or curious to see what is occurring next? Check out for the full list of events occurring every night in Indianapolis. 

Photos by Katerina Anderson.


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