Gearing up for ArtWalk

Alex Doty • Jul 21, 2015 at 1:08 PM

“Four years later, we are still chugging along,” ArtWalk organizer Steve Loftis said of the annual event.

Loftis said ArtWalk was formed several years ago after he and others saw the success of the ArtPrize event in Grand Rapids.

“We saw 500,000 people come to Grand Rapids,” Loftis said. “We got together and said, ‘Let’s get a float in this parade.’”

Loftis noted that it only makes sense to tie into the Grand Rapids event and try to tap into the interest of the arts in the community. He also noted that Grand Haven has struggled to embrace the arts for a long time.

“Grand Rapids was an inspiration and Holland was an inspiration," Loftis said.

ArtWalk 2013 is set to begin Sept. 18. It will feature art ranging from sculptures, paintings and photography from local artists displayed in businesses and community buildings throughout the downtown, Centertown and waterfront areas.

Along with public judging and juried voting, the event features public events that highlight artists and venues of ArtWalk. This includes street parties with free food and live music, a community-based art project, school trips, and a youth competition for ages 8-17.

A variety of ArtWalk events near the downtown happen Saturday, Sept. 21, including a new bike parade.

“That is going to be exciting,” ArtWalk volunteer Randy Smith said.

Smith said the parade will feature artistically modified bicycles ranging from tricycles to more elaborate creations. The public is encouraged to join the parade with their decorated bikes, which begins at 10 a.m. Art activities will follow immediately after the parade.

“Saturday is going to be a hoot with the bike parade,” Loftis said. “And I am hosting the Grand Burger Cookout (afterward).”

Organizers are trying to secure live music to lead the parade of bicycles down Washington Avenue.

Smith hopes for a good turnout for the first-ever event.

“Right now, I am guessing between 50 and 60 bikes, but we don’t know what to expect,” he said.

Other events slated for ArtWalk 2013 include:

• ArtWalk Kickoff Party: Wednesday, Sept. 18, noon to 2 p.m., featuring the mayor and City Council members at Waterfront Stadium.

• Centertown ArtWalk Experience and Centertown Block Party:  Wednesday, Sept. 25, with a self-guided walking tour of the district from 4-6 p.m. and a block party from 6-8 p.m.

• Grand Wavin’ Voting and Art Market on Saturday, Sept. 28, from noon to 5 p.m. Grand Wavin’ is the 2013 community art project in which individuals and businesses are able to purchase wood sculptures carved into the shape of a lighthouse/wave montage, decorate them, and bring them back to display in the downtown area for a public vote. The Art Market will be on Washington Avenue off Harbor Drive, and allows attendees to purchase pieces created by ArtWalk artists.

• Indie Rock Fest on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 27-28, from 6 p.m. to midnight. Presented by Second Avenue Arts, the concert features bands of the indie rock genre.

• Youth Competition Awards Ceremony and Reception on Tuesday, Oct. 1, at 6 p.m. The winners of the ArtWalk youth competition will be announced at Loutit District Library.

• Closing Awards Ceremony on Wednesday, Oct. 2, at 5:30 p.m.: Public voting on ArtWalk pieces ends at noon, with an awards ceremony at the Fire Barn Gallery that evening.

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