The business owners behind the First Friday Artwalk


The First Friday Artwalk is an event that arts connect puts on that takes place in the city of Topeka and is held the first Friday of the three months of March, April and May. This city-wide event gives local artists a chance to display their art in businesses all over the city. The day is filled with art, live music, food and drinks from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.  

The event takes place in downtown Topeka, Westboro, Brookwood and north Topeka, also known as NOTO. One of the most popular sections for first Friday takes place in the up-and-coming arts district of NOTO. In this district there are 18 different local businesses that participate in the artwalk. Each of those businesses work directly with different local artists and give them the opportunity to set up and display a gallery.

The event itself is substantial in stirring up business and foot traffic for the local business owners. DeAna Morrison, owner of aMUSEd Gallery, talked about how she gets in contact with local artists for her gallery.

“I’ll have an application process for anyone that wants to come in, and after that I’ll have a call for art and let people come in and be a part of certain themes.” Morrison said. 

Each month the theme for the art walk changes, for the month of April the theme was “Light it up blue”, however, most businesses follow the themes lightly.

“It’s just a matter of putting in an application. This month we have eight different featured artists.” Morrison said.

Jennifer Bohlander, owner of Matryoshka Tattoo, actually moved to NOTO because she initially started to show her artwork there. 

“I started showing work down here [NOTO], and I said to myself ‘I want to be a part of this’.” said Bohlander.

Once she decided to open up her tattoo shop in NOTO, she packed up all her things and moved there as well. Bohlander also explained how the first Friday artwalk can make or break a business in NOTO. 

“For some of these smaller businesses, first Friday is do or die for them. First Friday really helps these smaller businesses,” said Bohlander. 

Business for these local businesses really ramps up as a result of the artwalk, by helping and displaying local art, in turn the businesses gets more customers in their store. 

Bohlander also owns a restaurant across from her tattoo shop with her husband.  

It quickly became evident that the business owners that participated in the first Friday walk cared a lot about their community of NOTO and especially local art. Every business owner left me with the phrase “Enjoy your time here!” and a suggestion to which local business I should visit next. There was undeniable passion for the ever-growing area, the community and giving local artists an opportunity to be seen. 

You can visit these businesses and much more on the next First Friday artwalk on Friday, May 3 and help support local art and local businesses. For more information visit