First Friday in the Far West End, January 4, is far from freezing, although by South Carolina standards it is cold...in the 40s. I am refraining a chuckle, having just relocated to Greenville from Rochester, New York, where a 40-degree day midwinter would be considered balmy. But enough about the weather. Other than a racial shout from a passing car, the experience is pleasant, and downright encouraging about the art scene in the Upstate. First and foremost, the artists I visit are welcoming and engaging, and professional. I did not make it to every studio, but I'll mention a few that struck a chord with me: Crave, Knack, Patricia Kilburg, Glen Miller (his building is for sale), Julie Hughes Shabkie, and Dabney Mahanes. The caliber of work - from encaustics, oils, acrylics, graphite, clay - is first rate. The range of work - from realism to abstract to conceptual - is broad enough to capture most viewers. In addition to working studios, there are venues that offer an eclectic array of furniture, interior and personal accessories, displayed in settings that are intimate as well as spacious. To a degree, this is similar to the home base I just left. Artists are the harbingers of cultural change in transitional neighborhoods, whether it is the Neighborhood of the Arts in Rochester or the Arts District in the west end of Greenville. There is a duality of emotion that accompanies growth however: let it continue but not overwhelm us. As one artist commented, he used to have a studio in the West End but can no longer afford to park there. With the number of available storefronts in the Far West End, I don't believe parking will be an issue for awhile. I envision a coffee shop or a music venue (is busking allowed here?) to provide a greater draw to the area. It is enlivening to have the Asada food truck stationed at the hub, with its resultant enticing aromas wafting through many a studio. But I just arrived, following an 8-year hiatus in the part of New York that is also called the Upstate, so it is easy for me to offer "helpful" suggestions. What I do remember about this section of the city from almost a decade ago is that the ArtBomb was much more a solitary entity. It is, to be redundant, a welcoming sight to see the artistic family grow. And yes, there are many additional locales throughout Greenville and its suburbs that offer a slice of art on First Friday - and at other times - but the Far West End has that vibe of "happening."