On Friday night in Nashua, there will be people prancing about in evening gowns, high-heeled shoes, tuxedos and tiaras. They’ll wear fancy wrist bracelets, and they’ll likely eat much more than one normally would during a night out. Saturday and Sunday will bring masses of people, likely between 1,000 and 1,500, who will be buzzing about downtown, wandering up and down streets as though lost, all the while looking up and down from maps clutched in their hands.
City Arts Nashua holds its 10th annual Art Walk this weekend, Friday, Oct. 17, through Sunday, Oct. 19, and if all goes as planned, it will not disappoint.
Organizers say it will be bigger than ever. In addition to the 100 local artist displays within the self-led downtown art tour — which, for the first time ever, includes participation by the Nashua Area Artists Association and the Hollis Arts Society — there will be presentations of music, poetry and theater all weekend long.
This year, Art Walk coincides with the first ever Gate City Fall Festival, which involves a Saturday Main Street parade that starts at 10 a.m. and a festival at Holman Stadium from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., which includes a meet-and-greet with 2013 World Punkin Chunker champions, Team American Chunker and a demonstration by chainsaw sculpture Michael Martineau from Timber Art.
Two trolleys will transport visitors between Holman Stadium and the downtown Art Walk venues — 30 Temple St., the Nashua Public Library, the Picker Building studios and 24 businesses along Main Street — and food stops will be scattered about downtown to refresh visitors between viewings.
The event has come a long way since its modest beginnings.
“Before, it was pretty much just an open studios,” said Marjorie Hogan, past president of City Arts Nashua.
Art Walk originated in the Picker Building; it was a quarterly event with moderate crowds, sort of like the holiday open studios annually held there the weekend after Thanksgiving. Eventually, organizers decided to direct that energy to one spectacular a year.
“Now we have special events that go on in the galleries. We have musical entertainment, and this year, we’re having a poetry open mike. We’ve got stuff going on for kids, and we’ve got more participation from performing organizations in town, like the Peacock Players and the Community Music School,” Hogan said.
The result takes a great deal of effort, not only from organizers, but also from artists, who will have been scrambling to finish their items before the crowds rush in.
“Since January, I’ve been making new art to show people who come to the Art Walk,” mixed-media artist Bonnie Guercio said in a phone interview.
She’s got regulars who visit her Picker Building studio every year, some of whom she knows by name, and she put careful effort to ensure everything on her walls is brand-spanking new.
“This year I’ve been trying to be a little proactive about it. … But you know when you’re having people over for dinner and you wait till the last minute to get everything ready? It’s kind of ends up being like that,” Guercio said.
The weekend festivities begin with a Fancy Friday fundraiser. Participants are invited to dress up, purchase a discount wrist band and enjoy food specials and raffles throughout town from 5:30 p.m. to 1 a.m., with proceeds benefitting City Arts Nashua.
The opening ceremony happens at noon Saturday at the 30 Temple Street Plaza, the biggest new location to the weekend event.
After that, the opportunities are endless — you will need that map to decide whether to check out the NAAA exhibition or the emerging artists’ display, complete with a gigantic chalk wall manned by Alyssa Jameson; Alene Sirott-Cope’s alcohol ink art class at the League of NH Craftsmen Gallery or the artists and B Street Blues music in the Picker Building; the Marie Mendelow drum circle at the Persian Rug Gallery, or the art by J. Jorge Paris at the Nashua Public Library.
For kids, Positive Street Art’s “Views from a Cell” contest will decorate 96 Main St. all weekend long, and on Sunday, Anita Wolcott will present a children’s paint class at Glorious Possibilities — no brushes allowed.
These are just a fraction of the weekend’s offerings; the rest can be seen at cityartsnashua.org and in brochures available at participating venues.
“At the end of the day, we have two goals,” Guercio said. “One is to introduce or remind the Greater Nashua community what a great resource this area is for the arts. The other is to help promote the artists in our community. … Because what brings people in town is the creative economy. … The people support the artist, the artist supports the economy and the economy supports the people. Our goal is to link all parts of that circle. … That’s why City Arts Nashua exists.”
As seen in the October 16, 2014 issue of the Hippo.