With maps in hand, people will traverse the brick sidewalks of downtown Bangor on Friday evening for the final —and quite possibly largest — art walk of the year.
The self-guided tour, open 5-9 p.m., visits artwork in numerous businesses, galleries and studios throughout downtown; and it’s expected to be the largest Bangor Artwalk yet.
“We always strive to make each one better than the last one,” said Liz Grandmaison, chairwoman of the Downtown Bangor Arts Collaborative, which organizes the event. “Generally, the November art walk is the largest one because people get excited for the holidays.”
Artists often are tied up participating in festivals and shows throughout the summer, but in the fall, many settle into their studios for a winter of work. This Friday, people can visit 21 locations showing artwork of 75-80 artists.
In fall 2008, the Bangor Artwalk entered the Bangor arts scene. It started small, hosted by Central Street Studios, Central Street Yoga and Metropolitan Soul, and grew over the past two years until the Downtown Bangor Arts Collaborative achieved official status in June 2010 as a nonprofit cultural organization in Maine.
“At the first art walk, 400 people showed up and we kind of looked at each other and said, ‘Wow, I guess people are really hungry for this kind of thing,’” Grandmaison said.
For many people, it’s a night to eat out, shop downtown and view art.
“We’d like to see people get together with as many friends as possible and just get downtown and feel that sort of life that we don’t often see downtown after dark,” Grandmaison said. “It’s such a treat for me to see dozens and hundreds of people on the sidewalks going from place to place.”
Randy Colbath of Bangor has been participating in the art walk since summer 2009. He sculpts a variety of Maine woods into abstract art. His three most recent sculptures were made from the wood of a large apple tree that blew down in Brewer.
“There are not a lot of galleries in Bangor, which is really unusual for a city this size,” Colbath said. “So that in itself means people in the area aren’t used to going to galleries, and [the art walk] is a really good substitute.”
Colbath noticed that the turnout for the last art walk was low, and he’s hoping more artists and visitors participate this Friday. At WBRC Architects-Engineers at 44 Central St., he has one of the most accessible locations to display his sculptures. Like many artists, he plans to be present at his exhibition to talk with people about his work.
“It gives local artists a chance to show their work and get some appreciation for it outside of what might be seen in a gallery,” Colbath said. “It gives the average person on the street a chance to get out and see some art.”
Two must-see exhibitions, according to Grandmaison, are the Bangor and Brewer high school exhibition at the Maine Discovery Museum and Orono High School exhibition at 170 Park St.
“I think it’s really important for us to connect to our youth and let them know they have audiences here,” Grandmaison said.
Main Street Music Studios will host readings of poetry and short stories, along with music by Erika Olver, Craig Lodis and The Park Street Pickers. On display at the studio will be art by Brian Monahan and Lisa Pease, and film projections of multimedia poetry projects by Clinton Spaulding and others at Transient Vanity Press.
A few downtown cafes will stay open late to display artwork, and several restaurants will feature art walk specials based on their interpretation of the “Art of Food.” L’Aperitif has announced its art walk specials will be house-made squash ravioli with locally sourced, red wine-braised boneless short-ribs.
“People can look forward to us working with restaurants again and encouraging people to buy local,” Grandmaison said. “Even though we’re an arts group, we understand what every downtown needs to really be lively and vibrant is a mix of business and artists and restaurants.”
While surfing Facebook, Grandmaison came across the 3/50 Project. The organization’s message: Pick three local businesses; spend $50 a month on each and save your local economy. The Downtown Bangor Arts Collaborative now passes on the idea as they work with artists and businesses.
“It’s something we really want to encourage people throughout the Bangor area to do throughout the year,” Grandmaison said.
The collaborative is completing its application for federal nonprofit, 501(c)3 status, and it predicts to have an answer by the end of the year or the first quarter of next year. The status will enable it to seek grant money and partner with other nonprofits for cultural projects.
The next art walk is scheduled for March.
For information and maps of the Bangor Artwalk, call 947-2894 or visit www.downtownartscollaborative.org or www.facebook.com/DowntownBangorArtsCollaborative. Art walk maps are available at several downtown Bangor businesses. For information on the 3/50 project, visit www.the350project.net/home.html.