If you want to learn about a community, its passion and vision, many times the answer lies within its art. That's why many Broward County communities come together each month to offer Art Walk events complete with food, drink and music to share and celebrate their creativity. The walks are as different as the artists who inspire them.
Here is a listing of some of what's offered throughout Broward County.
Wilton Manors Art & Entertainment Expo - formerly the Island City Art Walk - is an event that is held on the third Saturday of the month, January-March, presented by WMEG & the City of Wilton Manors.
“Island City Art Walk is a collaboration between local artists and merchants. Each merchant sponsors an artist,” says Tony LoGrande, who runs the Art Walk with Krishan Manners. An array of galleries, eclectic stores, cafes, boutiques and upscale restaurants come together to host more than 40 local artists working in painting, sculpture, mixed media, installation art, crafts, jewelry and more.
LoGrande says what makes their show unique is the curated shows they often host. "I don’t think a lot of art walks do that," LoGrande said. "We had a show centered on sustainability for Earth Day and we had a show that corresponded with MOD Weekend in Fort Lauderdale. We are also thinking about doing a show with a Latin American artist focus."
Art walks like Island City provide a chance to connect with artists, LoGrande says. “I think people are looking for things to do that are engaging. People want to connect with other people. Everything these days can be bought on the internet, including art. But there is nothing that can beat that experience of talking with an artist and understanding what their inspiration is or their technique,” he adds.
Once a year, the artists in the Third Avenue Art District in downtown Fort Lauderdale open their galleries in a grand celebration of their work. For the past 18 years, they have hosted an annual art walk on the first Saturday of February to let the public engage in the creative experience of each artist's studio setting.
"We just want to open ourselves to the community, so they know of the existence of this passion," explains Madeline Denaro, one of the artists in the district. The area got its start in 1995, when four visual artists decided to group their studios just north of Broward Blvd. on N.E. Third Avenue. Since then, at least six others have joined them.
The 2014 Annual Art Walk was set for Saturday, Feb. 1 from 6 to 10 p.m. In addition to the galleries, the event also includes stops at the NSU Museum of Art | Fort Lauderdale. Also featured in this year's Art Walk is an exhibition presented by Girls' Club, a nonprofit alternative space exhibiting contemporary art by women. A free trolley service helps guests move between each stop and learn more about the artists.
"We have what we call a ‘Trolley-meister,’ who is on the trolley and explains as you approach each studio what the artist does, their latest endeavors and backgrounds," says Denaro.
There is free street parking along N.E. Third Avenue and throughout the area. Guests can walk or hop on the free trolley service that will circulate among the venues. For more information, visit www.thirdavenueartdistrict.com.
The Third Avenue Art District's annual Art Walk is not the only place to catch the art of Girls' Club, a nonprofit alternative space exhibiting contemporary art by women. Each year, the artists also host their own art celebration known as Art Fallout, which is traditionally held on the first Saturday in October.
Art Fallout celebrates National Arts and Humanities Month by bringing together the contemporary art spaces in downtown Fort Lauderdale for an interactive night of exhibitions, presentations, live-mural painting and open studios. The event reaches from the heart of downtown to the streets of Sailboat Bend to the warehouses of FAT Village. The most recent event brought in the biggest crowd to date proof positive that the area is becoming a true hub of creative expression.
"Our aim is really to bring together all of these spaces that usually operate very much on their own and really showcase that contemporary art is happening in downtown Fort Lauderdale," says Sarah Michelle Rupert, gallery director of Girls' Club.
Rupert said the most unique part of Art Fallout is the interactive element, which encourages guests to leave color-coded sticky notes for the artists or toss a paint-filled balloon at a wall.
"That interactivity really goes from the venue to the visitor, as well as between the venues itself," says Rupert. "It really pushes us to not only collaborate, but get to know each other a little better and hopefully foster relations for future collaborations."
One of the cornerstones of the Downtown Hollywood Art District's art emergence is its monthly celebration of art and music known as ArtWalk. Held on the third Saturday of each month, ArtWalk encourages visitors to stroll the tree-lined sidewalks of Downtown Hollywood visiting art galleries, checking out new exhibits or maybe peering over the shoulder of an artist at work. Over the past few years, it's become a favorite of visitors who can enjoy a drink or great meal and then immerse themselves in art, live music from street performers and great ambiance.
"We try to embrace the interesting cultural talents that really make up our community," says Lisa Liotta, the economic development manager with Hollywood's Community Redevelopment Agency.
The event began nine years ago as a grassroots effort by local gallery owners on Harrison Street. They combined their efforts with the Community Redevelopment Agency for a unique public-private partnership that encourages not only galleries, but local retailers and businesses to participate, too.
"That's what makes us unique. It has evolved organically. It has been going on for years and it has literally just grown within the community. It involves not only visual arts, but all forms of expression," Liotta says.
The Downtown Hollywood ArtWalk is held on the third Saturday of each month, from 7 to 10 p.m. Maps of the event are available at the Visitor Information Center at Hollywood Boulevard and 20th Avenue. For more information, call 954-924-2980.
Each month, as many as 1,000 people descend on the vibrant and ever-growing arts community known as FAT Village for their monthly art walk. FAT Village (Flagler Arts and Technology Village) is a four-block area, branching out from the intersection of N.W. Fifth Street and First Ave. in Fort Lauderdale, that is an "arts creative" district.
"Every single business is either involved in the arts or does art-related things,” says FAT Village Founder Doug McCraw. “We have artist studios, graphic arts, photography, film, graphics design, advertising, social network management, a recording studio on the way."
Many of those businesses open for the art walk to provide behind-the-scenes opportunities in art galleries and studios or a prop warehouse, and even to enjoy a play in one of two theaters, including one black box theater. McCraw says the FAT Village Arts District Art Walk is a fun look at high-quality art that includes works that have been on museum exhibit and large art installations. "We take a very serious look at the quality and level of the artists’ artwork that we have here," McGraw says.
In addition to the varied collection of art, guests also can enjoy great food and music at the FAT Village art walk, which McCraw says aims to connect residents to an emerging culture of young artisans in a variety of creative fields.
The FAT Village Arts District ArtWalk is held the last Saturday of the month (except December) from 7 to 11 p.m. at corner of N.W. First Ave. and N.W. Fifth St. one block in each direction.