Hundreds of vendors, artists, musicians and admirers converged on Pullman’s downtown corridor Saturday to celebrate the city’s 9th Annual ArtWalk – themed after Pullman’s recent 130-year anniversary.
Oil paintings, handmade instruments and scrap metal sculptures are just a small sample of the works that were on display Saturday throughout downtown.
Joanna Bailey, chair of the Pullman Arts Commission, said this year’s event featured more than 37 artists with 27 local merchant locations hosting displays.
Bailey said ArtWalk saw a 56 percent increase in artist and merchant participation from 2017, noting the first annual ArtWalk, put on in 2009, had only 15 merchant locations participate.
“It was started by the Pullman Chamber, and they recognized a need to spotlight local art and, of course, the Chamber being the Chamber, they also want to pair that with commerce,” Bailey said. “It was never originally intended to be carried by the Chamber, and so the Arts Commission took it over five years later.”
Bailey said the Pullman ArtWalk is a “mutually beneficial” arrangement between local artists and the city. She said the event helps bring unknown artists some small acclaim, but also has huge commercial implications for the city.
Bailey said 54 percent of participating artists make at least one sale during ArtWalk, some even sell out.
“We’re bringing people downtown and all around the town they’re buying, they’re shopping local. We’ve got merchants on site and then you’ve got food vendors – that’s, again, local sales,” Bailey said. “If the Arts Commission can help bring customers to businesses, that’s a beautiful thing, and if some of those customers are willing to buy art from artists, that’s fantastic.”
Bailey said this was the first year the event has included a street fair, located on a closed section of Northeast Olsen Street, directly in front of Neill Public Library.
She said the commission will look over the numbers later this week, but if the street fair is a provable success, it could be back next year.
One facet of the 2018 ArtWalk that stood out to Bailey was the level of youth participation.
An exhibit located in the parking garage below Pullman City Hall featured works by student artists of all ages, spanning a wide range of techniques and mediums, including water color, ceramics and paper mache.
“It’s great that the community has the opportunity to come down and see what they’re doing in school,” said parent Amanda Tanner.
She said both of her children – first-grader Hudson and 3-year-old Emersyn – participated in this year’s event.
Emersyn performed in a dance recital, while Hudson had a piece of art – a depiction of clouds and mountains in purple and gray marker – displayed alongside the work of others in his class.
“It’s cool to give them something to be proud to show to the town,” Amanda said.
Volunteer Meghna Dutta, 15, and a freshman at Pullman High School, helped run a children’s craft workshop inside the library.
Dutta, secretary of the PHS Key Club, said her organization volunteers to help with the event every year.
She said one of the great things about ArtWalk is it brings children into contact with the arts.
“We chose this (event) because we get to help kids make projects and get interested and involved in arts,” Dutta said. “The community obviously gives a lot to everybody and so it’s nice to give back once in a while.”
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