Arts and Entertainment

‘We’re really ready for it’: June brings return of First Friday and live events in Anchorage

After more than a year of canceled gatherings and shutdowns, Anchorage events and performances are returning in many forms this month.

“We are seeing an emergence of these great in-person events happening,” said Amanda Moser, executive director at Anchorage Downtown Partnership.

One downtown art venue, the International Gallery of Contemporary Art, this week is hosting its first in-person First Friday event since March 2020.

“There are other galleries in town that have been doing this for at least a few months now, but we’re just easing into it a little more,” IGCA gallery manager Karinna Gomez said.

“We’re really ready for it,” Gomez said.

The Anchorage Downtown Partnership, with the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts and the Anchorage Museum, is kicking off its summer concert series this Friday with Spenard Jazz Fest artists Ava Earl, Karrie Pavish Anderson, John Damberg and Kat Moore.

Events for Jazz Fest run through Sunday and feature in-person performances and live streams, with music from Phillip Blanchett from Pamyua and other Alaska artists.


The Town Square Park concert series is also back this month, with the RnR Band.

[Here are the Alaska fairs and festivals returning in summer 2021]

There are “tons of reasons for folks to come downtown and connect to arts in all the different forms,” Moser said.

From gallery exhibitions to outdoor dance parties, here are some First Friday events happening in Anchorage.

Happening around town Friday

Anchorage Museum — From “Black Lives in Alaska: Journey, Justice, Joy” to Charles Mason’s “Denali Through Collodion,” the Anchorage Museum has plenty of new exhibits worth exploring. $10-$20. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. (625 C St.)

Blush Boutique’s Sweet 16 — Enjoy goody bags and discounts across the board in celebration of Blush Boutique turning 16. Free. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. (720 D St., Suite C)

Denali Graphics and Frame Artist of the Month — Abstract painter Shelle Cover’s work will be up for the month of June. Free. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (700 W. International Airport Road)

East Coast Swing — No partner is needed to learn this versatile dance. All levels are welcome. $10. 7-8 p.m. at Open Space (630 E. 57th Place)

Ed Washington and Bethlehem Shalom live at Van’s Dive Bar — After exploring downtown Anchorage, stop by Van’s Dive Bar and hear R&B singer-songwriter Ed Washington and indie-pop artist Bethlehem Shalom. This event is part of Spenard Jazz Fest 2021. $20. 9:30 p.m. (1027 E. Fifth Ave.)

First Firkin Friday — Alaska oil painter Scott Clendaniel is Midnight Sun Brewing Co.’s June artist, and he’ll have pieces on display at this First Firkin Friday event. Free. 5-8 p.m. (8111 Dimond Hook Drive)

First Friday at Double Shovel Cider Co. — Sip on refreshing ciders and peruse local pieces from Art Seriously and 907 Sparkles. Free. 3-8 p.m. (502 W. 58th Ave., Unit C)

First Friday at Georgia Blue Gallery — Debra Dubac’s opening reception of “Saint Francis’ Backyard” will be at the Georgia Blue Gallery. Free. 5-7 p.m. (3555 Arctic Blvd.)

First Friday at Moose A’la Mode — View Jennafer Foreman’s work and talk to the photographer. Work is on display through the month of June. Free. 2-4 p.m. (360 K St.)

First Friday at Sevigny Studio — Wasilla-based artist Deb Lestenkof will be showing pieces at Sevigny Studio. Lestenkof uses rare tools to create her art. Free. 6 p.m. (312 G St.)

First Friday at Snow City Cafe — Iris Sutton and Nancy Hausle-Johnson’s work will be on display for this First Friday opening reception. Free. 5-7 p.m. (1034 W. Fourth Ave.)

First Friday at Tiny Gallery — Local business Rock Pile Designs will feature a variety of hats, cowls and scarves at this First Friday event. Free. 4 p.m. (706 W. Fourth Ave.)

First Friday Dance Party: Pride Kickoff Edition — Let freedom flags fly with live music from DJ Fan Service and food from the Alaska Burger Co. Free. 10 a.m.-2 a.m. (609 F St.)


First Friday with Great Land Trust — Watercolor painter Don Kolstad will have his work on display at Turnagain Brewing. Free. 4-8 p.m. (7920 King St.)

First Friday with Tent City Press — This First Friday art show at Resolution Brewing Co. features work from Tent City Press, a community print studio. Free. 6-8 p.m. (3024 Mountain View Drive #106)

Four Authors Book Signing — Side Street Espresso is hosting Alaska authors George Gee, Jim Gottstein, Doug Pope and Tom Layou at this book-signing event. 5-7 p.m. (412 G St.)

Friday Night Vibes in the Speakeasy — Swing by the Blues Central Speakeasy above Williwaw Social for drinks and tunes from DJ Covy. Happening every Friday for the month of June. Free. 9 p.m. (609 F St.)

June First Friday at Poppy Lane Mercantile — Customers have a chance of winning gift certificates and gift baskets at this local clothing boutique. Free. 5-8 p.m. (105 S. Valley Way, Palmer)

June First Friday at IGCA — The International Gallery of Contemporary Art is hosting its first in-person First Friday event since March 2020, featuring pieces from Mariano Gonzales and Jennifer Sonne. Free 5-8 p.m. (427 D St.)

Ken Peltier Live at Matanuska Brewing — Country musician Ken Peltier is back for an evening of live music. Free. 7-10 p.m. (11901 Old Glenn Highway, Eagle River)

Outdoor Dance Party with H3 at Williwaw Social — Kickstart the summer at this outdoor shindig, with reggae band H3 in their first in-person show since February 2020. $5. 7-11 p.m. (609 F St.)


The Powertop Girls in Spenard — Stop by Koot’s for an evening of entertainment from models and drag queens alike. $60. 8-11 p.m. (2435 Spenard Road)

RnR Band Live in Town Square Park — Alaska reggae band RnR will play at Town Square Park, part of the Summer Arts in the Park series. Free. 7-7:45 p.m. (544 W. Fifth Ave.)

Spenard Jazz Festival on the Anchorage Museum lawn — Stop by the Anchorage Museum’s lawn for live music from Ava Earl, Karrie Pavish Anderson, John Damberg and Kat Moore. Pull out the lawn chairs, grab some local grub and enjoy the show, part of the Summer Arts in the Park series. Free. 5:30-6:30 p.m. (625 C St.)

The Stack Live at Koot’s — The Stack, a local band playing modern country and Top 40 covers, will be at Koot’s for an evening of music. Free. 10 p.m.-2:45 a.m. (2435 Spenard Road)

Samantha Davenport

Samantha Davenport is a former ADN reporter.