Art Walk De Pere celebrates its third birthday this summer and Allyson Watson, executive director of Definitely De Pere was on hand to tell us what we can expect from the program’s latest outing.
Allyson: This is the third year of the downtown Art Walk series. And we’ve got some big expansions of it this year. First of all, we squeezed them all into the nicest window of weather. We experimented a little with the dates in the first two years and we found that no matter what we do, anything before Memorial Day does not seem to cooperate with us from a temperature standpoint. So we have consolidated all the dates between Memorial Day and Labor Day, which is what a lot of people identify as the summer in Wisconsin.
And we’ve expanded the dates. It was three the first year, four the last year, and now we’re at six. So It’s actually going to be every other weekend throughout that window with the exception of the week of the Fourth of July.
What we’re doing on the nights we don’t have art walk, is that we’ve actually launched a collaboration with the Mile of Music. It’s a new music event called EastWest Music Fest, where we’ll feature original musicians from the Midwest and nationally that will play in downtown De Pere Venues.
Anyways, back to Art Walk, not to totally sidetrack you. It’s on those Friday nights, those six of them. The Fridays are going to be May 29th, June 12th, June 26th, July 17, July 31, and August 14. And those all run from 5-8 in the evening on Fridays.
The Scene: How many artists do you have right now?
Allyson: This is a number that changes throughout the summer. My impact and my relations are with the artists I recruit. At the moment we’ve got about 50 artists that we’re featuring, and it’s a wide range of mediums.
Another change that we’ve made is that it is going to be exclusively on the east side of downtown De Pere. It just seemed to work better from a walkability standpoint. We tried doing it on both sides of the community the last two years and we never really had the traffic, walking-wise, that we needed on the west side. So we’ve decided to consolidate the event in a smaller geographic area.
With that we think that it makes that a little bit more walkable and easier to see more venues in that three-hour timespan.
The Scene: That makes a lot of sense. It definitely was a little hard to get over to both sides on foot. It also felt like there was a bit of a low density on the west side last year.
Allyson: Yeah, exactly, exactly. And unfortunately, there is very little we could do. We obviously encourage our businesses to participate. But if it’s not a good fit for their business- or one of the challenges we face on the West side is obviously we’re very resteraunt heavy. And that’s dinner-time on a Friday. So it’s a little hard to ask resteraunts, “hey can you give up table space and expect all these people who aren’t buying dinner to come in and look at art really quick?” It works a lot better for retailers we’ve found, and also cafe-style things where it’s also a less of a sit-down location. So just based on the business mix on the east side, we think that this event is a good fit.
But the opposite is the music event which is more sit-down restaurant, bar oriented. We think it’s going to perform very well for the West side. So it’s just recognizing what works, what doesn’t work and adapting the event over the years.
The Scene: Are there any other changes we should know about?
Allyson: Well we are really excited. This is our first year selling major sponsorship on the event. So our presenting sponsor is Starry Realty. And we’re really excited about the businesses that chose to come on as sponsors. Some of them have really cool rehabbed spaces. Especially the Starry’s: they actually bought and rehabbed a historic building on North Broadway over the last year. It used to be A’s Restaurant. And I think personally their building in and of itself is a work of art and obviously a real estate office. I guess it’s open to the public and you could poke into the office at any time, but it’s kind of a unique twist on the art walk, that we have historic businesses participating where people actually get to go in and experience these historic and architecturally artistic spaces that they might not have got to experience otherwise.
And with the bringing on of our major sponsorship level it also gives us the chance to market more heavily throughout the area. Not only in the De Pere Market, but also through the businesses that have a Green Bay presence too.
The Scene: Will the Artists actually be stationed within the buildings like Starry Realty in addition to out on the streets?
Allyson: They will, they will. They are one of the participating venues so they will have an artist on hand. I don’t think offhand that they’re doing all six of the evenings, and that’s something we encourage all our attendees to check online. And night-of we have banners out at the places that are participating. So obviously with six nights not everybody does all six of them. So there are some businesses that are doing three of them. Some are doing four. It’s just whatever works with their availability.
But on any given night there will be at least 20 venues participating. I think on the max night we have 25 participating. It fluctuates a little bit, but that is a smaller number than past years. That’s another change that we are experimenting with this year. We had a lot of people get back to us with feedback that they felt that they weren’t able to get to a lot of venues because of how big the number was and how short the time window is. We feel like if we push the event back to 9 p.m. participation would go down. That’s asking a lot of small businesses to stay open significantly later than their business hours. But by reducing the number of venues, what we’ve actually done is we’ll have a lot of spots that have more than one artist. So you might go into a shop and they’ll have two artists instead of one this year. That not only makes it more convenient for attendees because they can see two artists in one place: it also means that those artists and participating businesses will probably get more traffic within that window of time.
Fellow artist Terry Stanley and I are excited to be a part of this fantastic event and will have an abundance of artwork for visitors to enjoy.
Q: How many years have you been participating at Art Walk? I am thrilled that is my first year participating in Art Walk.
Q: Could you tell us some of your favorite emotions to play around with on paper? Adoration for my subject matter compels me to invoke inquisition within the viewer, prompting them to further explore the human connection to and influence on the natural world.
Q: What are some of your favorite media to work in? What’s you’re favorite part about working in them? As a sculptor I work with a plethora of mediums, including ceramic, wood, and glass. Due to the organic nature of these materials, I am drawn to the reductive process I use to transform them into a piece of art. A sculptor’s greatest tools are his or hands and the ability to manipulate these mediums with your hands grants you a connection to the piece that other mediums do not offer.
Q: Do you have any artists that particularly inspired you? What is it about their art that really drew you in? Glass blower Mark Petrovic and sculptor Bruno Lucchesi are contemporary artists I have looked to for inspiration. Both of these exemplary artists approach their work with such dedication to detail and truly are the masters of their mediums.
Find me: I will be at 100 S Broadway in the Riverside Studio Painters building with fellow artist Terry Stanley.