Last weekend marked the first weekend of October and that means one thing -- it was First Friday and downtown was going off. The city center was packed with people eating, drinking, and generally making merry while receiving a healthy sampling of art and music. It only made sense to take to the streets and enjoy the crisp atmosphere and fresh creativity that the changing season brings in.

First Friday art-heads could take their pick from the profusion of inspired activity among the galleries in and around the downtown Raleigh area, most of which were open until at least 9 o’clock. Many galleries hosted receptions in celebration of exhibition openings.

Works on display at The Mahler on Fayetteville Street included paintings by local artist Pete Sack, who layers paint over nostalgic imagery such as faces and classic Raleigh buildings to create unique expressions, which he calls “new narratives.” My interest in Sack’s work had been piqued earlier in the week after a trip to Beasley’s for a healthy dose of collards and biscuits, which everyone needs at least once every seven days. Sack has a chalk art masterpiece actually on the wall inside the restaurant, which celebrates one of the establishment’s staple ingredients -- honey.

A few new exhibitions were launched on Friday night at Artspace in City Market. I became a little bit obsessed with the funky renderings of artist Casey Porn, whose work will be on view in the Upfront Gallery inside Artspace until October 27th.  A dog enthusiast with an interest in, among other things, the secret lives of animals, space travel and coffee, Porn finds a unique way to fuse her intrigues into colorful, hip, animal portraits with an edge.

 Lump gallery on Blount Street, held a showing of Leah Bailis’s Ain’t Got No/I Got show, in which the artist employs different strategies to isolate moments from pop culture and film. Sarah Gamble’s riveting paintings were also on view during the rare showing Friday night. The gallery is usually only open on Saturdays and on weekdays by appointment, so First Friday provided a rare opportunity to get lost in Lump.

At Designbox, The Blue Hour, by Alberto Ortego Rodas opened Friday evening featuring paintings that depict scenes from around Raleigh at the twilight hour. Stop by before the show closes on October 26th and check out the familiar scenes, which may appear a bit more mysterious than you have previously experienced, and shop for crafty treats by local artisans in the Designbox shop.

For a comprehensive list of the Raleigh area’s galleries and locations, check here.