1st Friday Art Walk: Portland, Maine
Whenever I am traveling and visiting other cities, I always wonder about the impact of a vibrant art community in a city. I wonder about how that affects the quality of life and the economy of its citizens. I was recently in Portland, Maine, and I found it to be as artsy and fascinating as it Northwest counterpart. There are plenty of coffee shops, galleries, restaurants of all types, and great beer all around. Over 50 art venues compliment a vibrant downtown.
Their first Friday art walk was thriving with people of all ages, with artists displaying their work in venues ranging from established galleries, libraries, stores, sidewalks, and even the inside of a moving truck.
It was fascinating to see the volume and variety of artwork being displayed. It ranged from artwork created by kids selling art in the sidewalk, street musicians, and dancers entertaining the audience, to high-end galleries displaying works of prominent artists. Amongst the different galleries in the area, there were graphic design exhibits, photography exhibits, and a venue showing the work of a group of artists with mental disabilities. It was very refreshing to see the positive response of the community to the work created by the many artists involved.
All in all, it was a great evening that encompassed art, a supporting audience, and a city that fosters the growth of over fifty artistic spaces.
I couldn’t help and think about my initial question, and the impact of art in a community. Based on personal observations of the many cities that I’ve visited and have vibrant art communities, not only does it produce a positive economic impact, but it fosters a cultural space for artists to thrive. It also provides the community with alternatives in entertainment options, and it encourages other business to develop along these creative venues. There’s plenty of documented research that addresses the benefits of a thriving art community and its impact in the community. I feel like El Paso would benefit greatly from continuing to invest in the arts. But most importantly, it is the El Paso community that needs to continue to support the arts in the city. I do believe we can eventually have a thriving art community with galleries, and venues around town.