First Fridays bring festivities to the Hill

by Rebecca Thornburgh
Posted 2/29/24

More than 30 galleries, shops and eateries will stay open late on the first Friday of each month in a new Chestnut Hill initiative.

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First Fridays bring festivities to the Hill


More than 30 galleries, shops and eateries will stay open late on the first Friday of each month in a new Chestnut Hill initiative to start off the weekend with fun, food and a feeling of community. 

The new “Arts and Eats” monthly event, scheduled to start Friday, March 1, will highlight businesses along the Germantown Avenue corridor and welcome visitors with specially curated experiences, along with refreshments that reflect the theme of the evening.

The First Friday event is largely due to the energy and vision of Jonene Lee, owner of the NoName Gallery at 8127 Germantown Ave., who enthusiastically affirms that Chestnut Hill is a super friendly place, a community that’s especially welcoming. 

“I started my business here in Chestnut Hill because this is a place where people are really friendly, where people actually say ‘hello’ to each other,” Lee said. “Chestnut Hill is the place that truly can say ‘We are the ‘City of Brotherly Love.’“

Lee traces the beginnings of her NoName Gallery to when, just after the pandemic shutdown, she jumped at the chance through Bowman Properties to open a pop-up art exhibit on the Avenue for two months. Lee says that people really connected with the way she used the space; her fusion of compelling art with cool music just made for a great vibe. 

The success of that temporary exhibit gave her the confidence to establish a permanent space here. Nearly two years later, Lee’s NoName Gallery specializes in urban contemporary art and home furnishings, an eclectic collection presented in six light-filled rooms featuring honey-colored wood floors and sleek fixtures, where expanses of the building’s original stonework accentuate displays on the gallery walls. A photographer herself, Lee is dedicated to representing “color and culture” in the works she showcases. 

Lee is committed to making a difference in the community of Chestnut Hill. Soon after her gallery opened, she reached out to the Jenks School to offer arts programming. “Of course, I wanted my gallery to be a partner in arts experiences for the kids at our neighborhood school. That’s just what you do when you’re in a community,” she said. 

Lee is currently spending time in Jenks classrooms to help kids create decorative paving stones to embellish the school’s sidewalk area.

Lee’s buoyant energy – along with the effervescent First Friday events she’s been hosting ever since NoName Gallery opened its doors – attracted the attention of the owners of the Gravers Lane Gallery, among others, and an idea took off. Inspired by NoName’s popular monthly events, the conversation began with a question. What if some of our local galleries, restaurants and shops joined together to be part of a big, shared community event that would bring people out for an evening of cool experiences?

Lee’s model is simple. It’s all about giving her guests a great time. She conjures a compelling atmosphere with candles, great music, complimentary wine and goodies, where visitors can enjoy a wide range of the distinctive art she curates, changing up the offerings monthly. She was inspired to make the experience into a community-wide event when she noted that “people come out to the First Fridays event at my gallery, and they have a great time, then they want to know where else can they go after my event, now that they’re here in Chestnut Hill?” Lee believes that people want to go to a place where they know they’ll have a great time, and Chestnut Hill is that perfect “experience destination,” a place for a community connection, where people can expect to find great art, music and food.

The Goldenberg Group backed the idea in a big way and partnered with the Chestnut Hill Business Association to develop a community-wide event. With many businesses jumping on board to participate, the collaborators hit on “Arts & Eats” as the perfect name for the experience and put together a message for participants and attendees to share on social media. A handy QR code gives all Friday night visitors a key to all Hill locations featuring “Arts & Eats” specialties.

Now Chestnut Hill has an answer to the ageless question: What are you gonna do on a Friday night? If it’s the first Friday of the month, the answer is simple - “Arts & Eats,” with fascinating works of art to peruse, eclectic shops to explore, specialty treats to eat and drink, and excellent music to keep the beat. 

To join “Arts & Eats” contact the Chestnut Hill Business Association or David Mercuris at