Every last Friday of the month since January the crowds on the sidewalks in search of local art has grown as the Last Friday Art Walk has become more popular. While only about 250 braved the cold in January, more than 650 showed up at the April event. Event coordinator Katie Gamble wants the number of art patrons to keep growing.
“I’m still shooting for 1,000 by July. We’ve worked really hard. I couldn’t have gone on without the support of the (Maryville Arts Coalition) board, and people embracing it,” she said.
People have started buying the art displayed during the event at different venues throughout downtown Maryville, Gamble said. “We had many art sales at almost every venue,” she said of the April Art Walk.
Word is spreading among the art community about the new monthly venue. “We’re going to have a lot of new artists coming in for the Art Walk,” Gamble predicted.
The event has become popular with businesses as well, but the Maryville Arts Coalition board wants to make sure the focus stays on the artists and that the defined area of Last Friday Art Walk is in a contained area, with participating businesses being near each other and downtown, Gamble said.
“We’ve had such a huge response that we’ve had to set a perimeter as far as businesses who participate because we’ve had an overwhelming number of businesses wanting to participate,” she said. “We have to make sure the focus is on the artists and art. We had to go over that and keep the focus on art. I even had a Knoxville business ask about participating. When this started, we had no concept of that being an issue.”
Having more businesses wanting to host artists is an “excellent” problem to have, said Gamble. “I’d much rather have that problem than not have enough businesses to host artists or not have enough artists,” she said.
The board of directors has discussed different options for how to grow and develop. “This month we’ll introduce horse-drawn trolleys, and we’re hoping, at some point, to get this to where it’s a free service for the Art Walk,” Gamble said.
Gamble said the board is also trying to come up with a concept of having a monthly focus or theme to all the artists once a quarter. In August, for example, the theme could be music, Gamble said, with all the art focused or geared toward music. “It could be really exciting,” she said.
Gamble said the board is working to get the Maryville Arts Coalition built up and working to get the artists’ registry established so businesses can contact artists directly. “That way the arts coalition can screen and make sure the quality of artists is of high quality,” she said. “We’re trying to keep the integrity of the art walk at a high level.”
Gamble said she’s looking forward to the Last Friday Art Walks in the coming months.
“I’m excited by horse-drawn trollies. The Art Walk has traditionally been for adults, but Leann Moe is organizing a focus for kids in July and August. They’ll have a Kids Corner with drawing on the sidewalk and creating instruments.
“Maryville has made it unique to Maryville, and we’re including kids and we’re trying to come up with ways to include kids and have it be a fun event for them,” she said.
Gamble said there were a lot of performers on the list for May 30. “Hollowtree is going to play in an open venue so it will be like a block party in the Copy Shop parking lot. Circle Modern Dance will be performing at Clear’s Silat. Foothills Community Players will be at the Capital Theater, and they will be doing improv, she said.
Last Friday Art Walk, on May 30, begins at 5:30 and ends at 8:30 p.m., although many venues have after- hours music.
Last Friday Art Walk: 5:30-8:30 May 30
• FAB ArtSpace Gallery - “3D/ Mixed Media Exhibit” group show by members of FAB
• All Natural Health Shoppe - (painter) Karen Brackett
• Boyd Thomas Clothing - (painter) Raquel Roy
• Brackins Blues Club - (photographer) A. Marc Shamblin and live music by Joe Moss ($5; 9 p.m.)
• Canvas Hair Design - (photographer) Wendy Tittsworth
• Capital Coffee/Heath Claiborne Gallery - (performance) Foothills Community Players and live music by members of MHS Band
• Clear’s Silat and Street Kung Fu - (performance) Circle Modern Dance
• Dandy Lions - (painter) Amy Campbell
• Davis Lofts - (painter) Ben McKamey and live music by “Centralia Massacre”
• The Knitting Nest - (painter) Suzanna Terrill
• Preservation Plaza - (multiple medias) Group Exhibit by members of the Townsend Artisan Guild
• Professional Hair Designs and More - (painter) Hallah John Paul Boltik
• Southland Books/Southern Studios Stained Glass/Detour Coffee - (photographers) Leslie Karnowski and Sylvia E. McLain and live music by Brian Campbell and Shane Beaux
• Studio 212: Ceramic Arts - (metal sculpture) Zophia Kniess and live music by “HollowTree”
• Swank’s Jazz Restaurant and Bar - (painter) MB Pope and live music by “Marc Meyer and Friends”
(Celebrating their Grand Opening)
• Razberries Boutique - (mixed media) Becky Fielden
• 2 Doors Down - (painter and musician) Doug Harris
• The Tomato Head - (painter) Jason Amos Oaks and live music by “Robinella” ( $5; 10 p.m.)