March has arrived with just the faintest of believable spring weather gracing us and it is time to take advantage. If you’re looking to shake off that winter dust, what better way to do it than with a Final Fridays-turned-Weekend? It’s easy to burrow in during the winter months, stay inside where it’s warm, and forgo events and community time. Now that leaves are unfurling and you can actually feel the sun’s rays, it’s time to get out there. The last weekend of March offers, of course, a splendid display for Final Fridays, but reason to stay the weekend as well.
The University of Kansas oftens gets most of the attention (which, as an endlessly biased alum, I must say is well-deserved) when it comes to Lawrence attractions, but this weekend, consider what another university in town has to offer. Haskell Indian Nations University has a Cultural Center and Museum that is geared towards celebrating tribal culture. Both exhibits, Tribal Military and Honoring Our Children, delve into the history and evolution of Haskell. What began as an entity determined to stamp out tribal culture turned into the very opposite, but it took quite a few changes to get there. Immerse yourself in the history early Friday afternoon-the center closes at 4:00pm. The knowledge you gain from the museum just might get you in the spirit for Frank Waln, Sicangu Lakota performer, and prepare you to appreciate the cultural expression of the Powwow and Indigenous Culture Festival.
I have always loved walking down Massachusetts Street. I enjoy walking the block to work in the morning before the rest of Mass has woken up. I appreciate jaunting down to Luckyberry for an afternoon pick-me-up, or to Encore for some take-out pad thai. I don’t even mind when I have to park a block or two away, because it means I get to stroll. But what I love-really, really love-is walking down Mass St. on a busy, beautiful Friday night. The storefronts have their doors open and beckon you inside with their unique wares, the china and silverware clink raucously from restaurant patios, and the people. Oh, the people. They are out in droves in KU gear and their Friday finest. There are couples holding hands, packs of teenagers exploring, families with the night off. There are Lawrence locals and students and visitors and it is the most wonderful, energetic mashup. To walk down Massachusetts Street on a bustling spring evening is truly a treat.
To make it even better? An emphasis on art and fun. There really is something for everyone, whether you admire hand-blown glass or hand-poured candles or hand-stitched bags. There will also be exhibits at the Edward Jones gallery, Phoenix Gallery, the Percolator, the Fayman Gallery and more. And of course, as the self-designated arts district, East Lawrence is a hotbed of Final Friday’s activity. Stop by Bon Bon for drinks and snacks on their expansive patio or Lawrence Beer Co. for locally brewed beer. There are several galleries within walking distance, including Cider Gallery, Rural Pearl Gallery, and Lawrence Warehouse Arts District building. For a full list of the Final Friday’s line up and details about each, check here.
If you get your fill of quiet galleries and hand-crafted art, you can head to the Lied Center for a more vocal kind of artistic expression. Sicangu Lakota hip-hop artist Frank Waln is performing at 7:30pm. If you think the name sounds familiar, it may be because Waln has been featured on many popular channels and news feeds including Buzzfeed, NPR, ESPN, and MTV. What makes Waln special, though, is his reach beyond the stage. His accolades are not confined to music; he is an award-winning activist as well. Waln left the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota to attend Columbia College Chicago in 2010. While earning his degree in Audio Design and Music Production, he was an active voice in his community for youths and their creativity and self-expression. In the last month of his senior year at Columbia, he won the Chicago Mayor’s Award for Civic Engineering and the 3Arts Grant for Chicago Artists. The guy has got some good things to say on and off the stage. Tickets are $25 for adults and $14 for students/youth.
The KU Powwow and Indigenous Culture Festival will start at 12:00pm on Saturday thanks to a wide variety of hosts. With KU First Nations Student Association, the Lied Center, Haskell Cultural Center and Museum, Spencer Museum of Art, KU Office of Diversity and Equity and KU Office of Multicultural Affairs all having a hand in presenting this free event, it is sure to be a memorable afternoon. Kick off the afternoon with Powwow 101 at 12:00pm, and then watch the Grand Entry at 1:00pm. There are a range of performances from all ages throughout the afternoon, as well as native food and arts and crafts vendors. When I was maybe six or seven, my mom took my brother and I to a powwow. We were spending the summer in the mountains of northern Arizona and the powwow offered education and entertainment. To this day, I remember the music and the colors and the hoops swinging through the air. We still have a CD that we bought from a music performer there. Not that my fond childhood memories of such an event should sway you, but I have a feeling that this Saturday afternoon at the Lied Center might create some of your own.
Kate is a recent KU graduate and perpetual lover of words, details, and Jayhawk basketball. She is using her English degree to write both creatively and strategically. You can find more of her work on her blog, A Story By Me.