Jax Art Walk Celebrates 10 Years of Culture Downtown
Thousands of First Coast residents look forward to the first Wednesday of every month for Jacksonville's Art Walk, a collaborative art market that spans 15 blocks of the downtown area and includes more than 50 venues and hundreds of local artists.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the signature event, which attracts more than 6,000 guests every month to Hemming Plaza to see artists, businesses and entrepreneurs present their work to the community.
The event is a self-guided tour held each month from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., rain or shine, with participation from the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Jacksonville Public Library, as well as many local restaurants, bars and businesses.
Art Walk began in 2003, and each event takes on a different theme.
This month's theme: "Cheers to 10 Years."
Event coordinators have organized a block party on Laura Street, between Hemming Plaza and the main branch of the Jacksonville Public Library.
Highlights include more than 19 live bands and musical performances and plenty of eclectic art and street performers.
"There's always something fresh," said Tony Allegretti, Art Walk co-creator and Director of Downtown Engagement for the JAX Chamber. "The diversity of the art is really the main course."
As a consultant to Downtown Vision, Inc. in 2002, Allegretti said he did a project called "100 Windows of Art" where empty downtown storefronts were filled with local art.
After a visit to Seattle's First Thursday Art Walk, Allegretti said the idea for a similar event was pitched to Downtown Vision. They accepted and, the next year, Jacksonville held its first Art Walk event with eight supporting venues and 500 attendees.
Now, there are 53 associated venues, and between 6,000 - 10,000 attendees each month.
Liz Grebe, Art Walk manager, said October's event saw a record 12,000 attendees.
"It has helped to define an interest in cultural activity," Allegretti said. "It really shows that people want to be downtown, have fun and celebrate our cultural pool — which is very deep."