I’ve always dabbled in illustration and painting, and have casually taken freelance assignments through the years. As an “artsy” type, ArtWalk has always appealed to me. This year, I was feeling especially inspired and signed up to be a featured artist for the spring’s ArtWalk. If you’ve never attended ArtWalk events in the past, you don’t know what you’re missing. I’ve been a guest at ArtWalk for years, and for as much as I liked it as a casual attendee, I absolutely love it now as a featured artist. Being featured gave me an entirely new perspective on the role this event plays in our community. For example…
4. ArtWalk perfectly blends local commerce and local art
Anyone can put a bunch of art on easels and call it an “experience.” I was in San Francisco earlier this year where they were promoting a “bubble gum art experience,” which was exactly what it sounds like. It was an entire art gallery dedicated to the unintended artistic expression of disposed bubble gum. Translation: a bunch of chewed gum was on display. That’s what passes for an experience these days.
In Findlay, Ohio, we extrapolate the artistic experience. Just like a hipster making coffee, we put extra effort into crafting something that’s greater than the sum of its parts. ArtWalk exists as a showcase of local art and the artists that create it. Taking it one step further, ArtWalk is also a showcase of local businesses that appreciate and support local art. That means, in addition to gallery open houses, local businesses play host to local artists and their work.
I was stationed in Flag City Clothing. ArtWalk guests making the stop to see me also got to experience one of Findlay’s most unique shops. As a creative, custom-printed clothing store, Flag City Clothing is a business that exudes artistic expression. Guests could stand there and watch me complete an illustration, or they could literally turn around to watch t-shirts getting printed.
All across town, guests get this same experience. You can use ArtWalk as an excuse to experience local art, but you also get a new appreciation for retail locations and restaurants that keep our town’s lifeblood pumping.
3. ArtWalk can provide the ultimate home conversation piece
There was a time when people displayed artwork at home as a conversation starter. It’s easy to see why that worked – 60 years ago, art was unique and one-of-a-kind. We now live in the age of IKEA and Shutterfly. If you have artwork hanging up, it’s probably mass produced and also in hundreds of other homes in your community. And if it’s not artwork, it’s probably a big canvas print of your family wearing matching red sweaters posed underneath a tree. There’s not much conversation there except for “Oh, you’re wearing red. Cute.”
At ArtWalk, you can shop local art while also getting to know the artists that created it. If you see a piece of art that matches your décor, you can also hear the story behind it. You can learn what the artist was thinking, the process used to create it, and also a bit about how hard it will be for the artist to part with it. These are all fascinating stories to share with friends when they visit your home.
I bought a painting from Kan Du Studios. It’s a really eye-catching, interesting painting with expressive strokes and vibrant colors. I hung it in my office and I get at least one comment about it every day. And for each comment, I have the opportunity to tell Kan Du’s story and share some inspiration from the artist, who also happens to have a developmental disability. And for each time I share that story, I make a new friend.
Am I saying that buying local art makes you popular? Well no. But it certainly won’t hurt your chances.
2. You can learn techniques to inspire your own artistic endeavors
The stapedius is the smallest muscle in the body. It’s just over one millimeter in length (equal to the width of a credit card), and its purpose is to stabilize the smallest bone in your body, the stapes, deep inside your inner ear. If any part of you is artistic – if even just your stapedius is your most creative muscle – it will get flexed during ArtWalk. Everytime I visit ArtWalk, I come away with a flurry of new ideas and a drive to execute on those ideas
ArtWalk is all about sharing ideas. If you enjoy painting, use this time to talk to painters. If you like tiny art, you can talk to artists who make tiny art. Or you can talk to tiny artists. From collages, to sculptures, to woodworking…all of it has representation at ArtWalk. And if the visual arts aren’t your thing, musical arts are well represented too. Bands and individual performers are sprinkled throughout the ArtWalk locations. You’ll be back home rocking Freebird on your clarinet before you can say yee-haw.
Inspiration abounds at ArtWalk, so proceed with caution. Don’t come unless you’re fully prepared to have every creative impulse validated. The creative bug bit me hard. So much so that after first participating in the spring, l’ll again be featured at ArtWalk on November 1.
1. You can make connections that go well beyond this one evening
Artists are participating in ArtWalk for a combination of three reasons: 1) they want to showcase their art; 2) they want to demonstrate their art; or 3) they want to connect with people who appreciate art. ArtWalk artists exist because they want to share and broadcast what they love. If you like what they have, you can buy it. If you like their style, you can work with them on new projects.
As I mentioned, I was stationed at Flag City Clothing, which opened up a relationship I didn’t anticipate (but should have). They have a persistent need for artwork on their shirts and I have a persistent need to create artwork. Together, we’ve been able to collaborate on a bunch of great projects. Most recently, I did the illustration for their Halloween shirt. It even glows in the dark!
This shirt was possible thanks to the relationship I formed with Flag City Clothing during ArtWalk. Aside from that, the entire evening was filled with new connections. Thanks to conversations with attendees, for the past several months I’ve drawn pictures for t-shirts, album covers, magazine ads, auction items, and social media promotions. ArtWalk was made for these types of connections.
Art is alive and thriving in Findlay, Ohio, and ArtWalk is the event that celebrates it. I encourage anyone who appreciates art (or who thinks shiny, colorful things are pretty) to spend the evening perusing downtown on November 1.