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ArtWalk: Two Decades

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Each year on the first weekend in October, the Riverwest Artists Association (RAA) organizes ArtWalk, an event that introduces people to tons of artists, art spaces, artwork, and art activities. Whether you live in Riverwest and want to see what’s new this year or are new to the neighborhood and want to find out some of what’s going on, ArtWalk is the way to do it. RAA has been around forever — it’s one of the oldest artist member organizations in the city. This year’s ArtWalk is the 20th, a remarkable accomplishment considering how many small arts organizations bite the dust from lack of money and lack of people to do the work. RAA suffers no such lack of help — dedicated artists work hard to make really good events happen and opportunities available to artists and art lovers. One of the best by far is ArtWalk, which serves to expose an eager public to the myriad and multitude of arts in Riverwest. RAA members open their homes, studios and businesses to people during the walking tour, showing not only the end product of their work, but often how and where they work, willingly talking with anyone about why they work. It’s a great opportunity to experience some of the excitement of the Riverwest arts community. Because this is their 20th ArtWalk, Riverwest Artists Association has arranged some celebratory events in conjunction with the walking tour. RAA has been nurturing the next generation of artists by teaching art to children through their program, Art From the Heart. From 1-3 p.m., each day of ArtWalk, those great artist teachers will be at Gordon Park Pavilion to make art with kids. Kids might do self-portraits or make funky wearable art or do printmaking — the possibilities are endless, but it will certainly be big fun. Art from the Heart will also be showcased at the Pavilion in an exhibit of photographs, drawings and other images showing a residency led by Melissa Dorn Richards at La Escuela Fratney School and Community Learning Center. The Fratney School kids are creating a mural celebrating 20 years of ArtWalk and the Riverwest community. The mural will be up for all ArtWalk participants to see on the side of the Feed Shop at 918 East Center St. Inside, ArtWalk-ers can enjoy RAA’s annual members show. While traversing Riverwest, enjoying good art here, grabbing a bite to eat and quaffing beer there, ArtWalk participants need to stop at a couple of other spots. The Art*Bar at 722 E. Burleigh St., will have an exhibition of 20 photographs by John Ruebartsch, which capture the history of events in Riverwest. The photographs have a remarkable ability to make strange things seem familiar and they are amazing — gritty, poignant, hilarious, definitely worth seeing. Another not-to-be-missed exhibition will be at Flux Design’s gallery, toward the north end of Riverwest at 811 E. Burleigh St. Flux is showing a 20th anniversary celebratory portfolio of prints by 21 RAA artists, which includes pieces by such notable long-term members as Ron Bitticks and Jill Sebastian. One complete portfolio will be donated to the West Bend Art Museum, but another set will be for sale at Flux. With ArtWalk, RAA opens the doors of the neighborhood so that residents and visitors alike get to see what Riverwest artists have been doing this year. It is (as any 13-year-old would say) so worth the three bucks. Saturday, October 2 & Sunday, October 3 noon to 5 p.m. Tickets $3 for adults / $2 for students & seniors For sale at Gordon Park Pavilion (2828 N. Humboldt Blvd.), Riverwest Food Coop (733 E. Clarke), and Beginning Dreams Forever (833 E. Burleigh), and other locations on the days of the event.
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