How can Artwalk Gainesville promote even more local artists and businesses and raise funds for schools?
Longtime local artist Frank Curtis has been asking questions like this one since becoming the coordinator of Artwalk Gainesville, a self-guided tour which focuses on the abundance of creativity in the Gainesville community. The event takes place the last Friday of every month from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
With this being Curtis’ first Artwalk as coordinator, he hopes to work toward leaving his mark on the already popular event.
“We’re looking for new ideas (too),” Curtis said, “and new ways to showcase everyone.”
Curtis coordinates Artwalk Gainesville as a volunteer — something he sought out. As the third coordinator, Curtis wants to reach more parts of the community. The goal is to showcase various forms of art while getting more downtown businesses to become venues for the monthly event.
Through his participation in Artwalk, he told former coordinator Nancy Hyer if she ever had to move on, he would be interested in taking over. Eventually, she recommended Curtis to the Arts Association of Alachua County, which helps fund the event. After interviewing with the association, he earned his current position.
“In addition to Arts Association of Alachua County, we are partnered with Visit Florida, the City of Gainesville and Culture Builds Florida to bring Artwalk Gainesville to The Gator Nation,” Curtis said.
Artwalk features a map of participating venues, making it easy for tour-takers to find every participating venue and exhibit. The event map can be found at artwalkgainesville.com.
The monthly event is an inexpensive way for businesses to get publicity and people coming through their doors, Curtis said. It cost businesses $30 to be featured on the map or $240 for an annual subscription.
The Hippodrome State Theatre is one of the recent downtown spots to become an annual subscriber, and Curtis is looking to make the subscriptions even more desirable.
“Artwalk presents so many things for the artists in town,” Curtis said, “but it really also helps out so many businesses.”
Friday’s Artwalk features the usual bars, restaurants and traditional galleries, but also more unusual locations like yoga studios and tattoo parlors.
“We have just so much participation,” Curtis said. “Without that participation, it really wouldn’t happen.”
One new participant to Artwalk is Art Attack, a High Dive event founded and coordinated by local artist Sarah White.
While it’s the first time Art Attack has paired with Artwalk, it’s not the first time High Dive has participated in Artwalk. High Dive has partnered with Artwalk many times, according to Pat Lavery, owner of Glory Days Presents and the exclusive promoter for High Dive. He hopes pairing Art Attack with Artwalk will be beneficial for everyone involved.
“Sarah does a great job with Art Attack,” Lavery wrote in an email. “We couldn’t do it without her, and we are so happy that High Dive is the home for this wonderful community event.”
Art Attack has even featured Curtis’ own art. The show includes a variety of mediums.
“It’s pretty much an explosion of different types of artists,” White said.
White encourages people of all skill levels to be vendors. She wants both professionals and people who have never shown their work before to be able to showcase their art in a comfortable and fun environment.
Friday’s Art Attack will even feature an artist who will be showing her artwork while dressed as a mermaid.
“I just want to help support (and) increase the art culture,” White said, “but at the same time make it really hip and interesting and a fun place to hang out.”
White feels strongly about keeping Art Attack free for her vendors — something she said is virtually unheard of. The public will also benefit from no entrance fee, but a donation jar will be set up by the door for those who want to support the scene. All donations will go to keeping art alive, White said, so Art Attack can remain free of charge for the patrons and vendors.
For White, the goal is to help a budding art community in Gainesville continue to grow and to encourage people to buy local art.
With diverse venues and participation from Gainesville’s creative community, the new coordinator believes there’s something for everyone.
“Artwalk is not so unique,” Curtis said. “I think Gainesville is unique with all the startups, businesses and creative people that are willing to invest in their community and make Artwalk Gainesville its own event.”