Art Walk attracts a diverse crowd to downtown


Published: Friday, January 29, 2010 at 9:39 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 29, 2010 at 9:39 p.m.

South Main Street may be the best place to people-watch in Gainesville on the final Friday of the month.

That's the day of Gainesville's monthly Art Walk, when the area between Main, University and Depot brings in both the well-coiffed professionals pushing baby carriages around the Sun Center to folks with face tattoos and spandex shorts.

Outside the Civic Media Center and the Main Arts Center are buskers entertaining for money, trying to make it to the West coast, men with epic beards and coozie-wrapped bottles of Tecate, and kids playing two-chord songs on barely functional guitars.

The Art Walk has been going on for over a decade under a variety of names, said Natalie Richardson, coordinator of the event. Beginning in and around the Sun Center, the group of galleries began to include more non-traditional venues, such as the Kickstand, in the past couple of years, she said.

Inside the Civic Media Center, young people walk around, looking at images of the Virgin Mary while clutching tiny glasses of wine and handfuls of pretzels. University of Florida junior Henry Taskier, a volunteer at the CMC, hands out a flier for a free post-Walk concert.

Gaggles of art lovers hover around the recently erected "Grilled Cheese Wagon" -- a makeshift restaurant with signs boasting the availability of tempeh and guitar strings.

Out of the many taking part in Art Walk, few seemed to admit to having enough money to make art purchases. But Richardson insists that the importance of the event is to increase the awareness of art activity in Gainesville, not necessarily to serve as a marketplace of mantelpieces.

"It's more of an opportunity to have a fun and good night checking out art than anything," she said. "Plus, we don't have as many galleries as a big city would, so this is a way for the artists to express themselves to the general public."

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