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story.lead_photo.caption This 2018 file photo shows the Regional Arts Center in Texarkana, Texas. In 1911, the building on Texas Boulevard was built as a U.S. Courthouse, and it later was used as a Bowie County government building. Photo by Christena Dowsett

TEXARKANA, Texas — This week's inaugural 1st Friday at the Regional Arts Center brings the live music of piano player Bass Deese and a chance to unwind with drinks and socializing.

Organized by the Texarkana Regional Arts and Humanities Council, 1st Friday programs will run monthly with live music in Cabe Hall and provide a cash bar for refreshments every first Friday of the month from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

This Friday's event is free for all, while future 1st Fridays will be free for 2021-2022 TRAHC members with a drink ticket included. For non-members, the future general admission will be $10.

Beer, wine, punch and other beverages will be served.

TRAHC Board President Charles Fortenberry says TRAHC held Occasional Thursdays at the RAC years ago with the idea to bring the public into the art museum to see the galleries in a relaxing, post-work atmosphere. This will be similar but on Fridays.

"It's either a relaxing way to end your week, or it's a way to start your weekend," Fortenberry said. "I can imagine people just meeting their friends there and then heading out. It's early in the evening." Music will start around 6 p.m.

About Deese, Fortenberry said, "He's a keyboardist, and he's multiply talented, but mostly jazz music. That's kind of the format we're trying to develop." TRAHC has reached out to local groups to bring live jazz to the Regional Arts Center.

Jazz music, too, is an original American art form that hasn't received a lot of attention in Texarkana, and there's a link here in Texarkana to Scott Joplin, the ragtime composer and player, said TRAHC's board president.

The artistic backdrop in the galleries is the 28th annual Student Juried Exhibition, which runs through June 26.

"It's just meant to be a relaxing atmosphere for people downtown to unwind, take a look at some art in the gallery, maybe gather with their friends," Fortenberry said.

"That's the kind of culture we're trying to develop for 1st Friday," said Fortenberry, noting the student art show features outstanding art for the public to see. He encourages people to drop by and take a look.

"I think they'll be very, very impressed with the work that those students have come up with," Fortenberry said.

Memberships will be available at the event. Fortenberry points out that membership at the lowest level is $50, so if a person buys a membership and attends five events it will pay for itself.

"I guess you would call that the hack for 1st Friday," the board president said. TRAHC intends to hold the events through the rest of the year, apart from August when another event is scheduled for the space, he said.

(The Regional Arts Center is at 321 W. Fourth St. For more information, call 903-792-8681.)

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