When I first entered the Heath Gallery on a Friday night, I wasn’t sure if I was in the right place. I entered a home in a quiet Harlem neighborhood, and stepped into a living room with walls covered in art, filled with people instead of furniture. I could tell I was in company with artists. The crowd was wearing fashionable street wear and showing off their own elaborate aesthetic. I was brought there by my friend, rapper and street wear designer Conscious, who like others at Hang Night designs many of the clothes and jewelry he wears.
The first room I entered was crowded, but I found a spot near the front of the group to observe the show. A small stage area with a DJ in the front corner of the room hosting the open mic. After a musician finished, another artist would casually pop out of the crowd and start performing themselves. Poetry and rap were the main act, along with singing and dancing. The immense talent was impressive.
I was able to talk with Mike McManus, artist and musician, about his work. In addition to his painting on exhibit, I watched him perform his spectacular poetry.
In the back room, the art continued, however without any performances. The exhibition continued there with many forms including pop art, abstract art, and photography. I spoke with Sarah Hoffman, Fashion Design student at Pratt, who made a series of drawings in both pen and pencil. Countless other artists and patrons were hanging out in the room, enjoying their night as I was.
There was an overwhelming feeling of acceptance in those rooms. There were talks ranging from belief in Christianity to spiritual connections to the third eye. There was a photo that looked like a beauty editorial, as well as sculptures of birds by Tiffany Adams made from pipe cleaners. I was inspired by the sharing of so many individual artistic expressions. Hang night is a raw intimate culture I feel lucky to have stumbled across, and is held every last Friday of the month.