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A New First Friday Tradition 

COBLA launches The Colors Store to showcase local creativity

First Friday is a local tradition that's just getting back on its feet in downtown Bend (and Redmond, too), inviting people to browse downtown shops and see local art on display. June brought the first First Friday of the year, with the next event scheduled for this week, on July 2.

At the June event, The Central Oregon Black Leaders Assembly set up the inaugural edition of The Colors Store, offering an outlet for local creatives of color to sell and display their works in downtown Bend. COBLA partnered with the Downtown Bend Business Association to launch the store.

  • Courtesy COBLA

The Source Weekly chatted with Riccardo Waites, CEO of COBLA and the diversity coordinator for DBBA about the advent of The Colors Store.

Source Weekly: Describe The Colors Store and what that entails.

Riccardo Waites: The Colors Store is a store for creatives of color to be able to sell their art, and creative products at the First Friday Art Walks. It is virtually impossible for people of color to afford actual brick and mortars downtown, so we wanted to have something that these creatives of color could be included in. And that's The Color Store. So, every First Friday of the month, we're downtown, and we're open until 9 at night.

SW: Besides the cost, are there other reasons you wanted to do this?

RW: Just to bring more diversity to the First Friday Art Walks. It's a wonderful event, lots of things to see, lots of people to meet, and we just wanted to bring more diversity and show people of colors' creativity.

SW: Who will be there this month, and what can people can expect from the art that'll be there?

RW: Last month we featured an Asian-American artist. This month, we haven't locked in our main featured artist, but we will have art there and other creative products from creatives in Central Oregon.

SW: So there's one main artist who has a display, and then you have other artisans selling things too?

RW: Correct. And as we grow, we will have more artists to feature, but for now we're trying to save artists for each walk.

SW: What was the response to the first one?

RW: It was amazing! Where we set up, we're right next to the stages, so there's a band that plays from 6 to 8, and we're 30 feet from the stage. People are always there, they're listening to music, dancing or just watching, and it was a good time. The band ended at 8 and The Colors Store actually DJ'd from 8 to 9 and played some old-school soul and people stayed around and walked through The Colors Store—it was an amazing time.

SW: We're just starting to get back to a time when we can do these things—interacting among each other in person. What does it feel like to be able to bring your organization out into the public in this way after so many pandemic restrictions?

RW: It's an amazing feeling and it also gives me anxiety. I want to see things succeed and I want to continue to grow, right? So as we bring events, with the restrictions being let down, I'm really excited for the public to get a chance to be—there's lots of education coming, lots of assistance for people of color who feel that racism and biases being put on them. I'm really excited for the future, and I'm really excited for The Colors Store. We're going to be at Oktoberfest, too.

The Colors Store will be set up in the Mirror Pond Plaza adjacent to The Commons on First Friday, July 2, from 5 to 9pm.

-Intern Isaac Akenson contributed to this report.

About The Author

Nicole Vulcan

Nicole Vulcan has been editor of the Source since 2016. (Blame her for everything since then.) Favorite car: A Trek commuter bike. Favorite cat: An adopted dog who looks like a Jedi master. Favorite things, besides responding to your comments: Downton Abbey re-runs, Aretha Franklin albums, and pink wine.
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