“Art and creativity are really the forerunners for any type of development in a city. If you want to see a thriving community and a city that’s forward thinking then you have to nurture your creative people.”
Name: Joy G. Myers
Occupation: Director of Birmingham Artwalk
Creative Industry: Visual Arts & Crafts
1. What can you tell us about Artwalk for those who may not have attended in prior years?
Well, the event takes place in Birmingham’s loft district. We have over 100 visual artists; some located in existing business and some in parking lots scattered throughout the area. We also have three stages for local music. The area restaurants and bars will be involved as well as a few food trucks. It’s a free event great for the whole family.
Friday night is kind of like a big gallery opening and street party. Saturday we add a kid’s zone area. Kids are welcome all weekend, but we will have some special things for them on Saturday.
2. What was your inspiration when putting together the first Artwalk?
The group that put the first Artwalk together back in 2002 was Naked Art Gallery and Operation New Birmingham, which is now RevBirmingham. The idea was to bring people downtown and show them the possibilities. Fourteen years later, the neighborhood has become a place anyone can visit not just during Artwalk.
3. Why do you think it’s important to have a place to showcase local artists?
Art and creativity are really the forerunners for any type of development in a city. If you want to see a thriving community and a city that’s forward thinking then you have to nurture your creative people. Typically a loft district, especially before development takes place, were homes and studios for artists that wanted less expensive but large, open spaces to do their work. Artwalk has always been really two sided; one is the economic development side showing people the potential of downtown and the other is to nurture the artists and give them an opportunity to show their work.
One of the interesting things about Artwalk is that we are very friendly towards young artists. I don’t mean young in age, but young in showing their work to people. For many artists this is their first real show and their first opportunity for the public to look at their art and possibly purchase their art. It’s also a great festival for new art collectors. Naked Art is well known for affordable art. While there’s a mix of everything available at the festival; you will find original pieces of art that anyone can afford.
We do bring in artists from around the region, but at least 50% are local Birmingham artists.
4. How would you like to see Artwalk grow over the next few years?
One of the things about Artwalk that we try to improve upon each year is the experience for the artists and patrons. I don’t see us necessarily growing our footprint or trying to be something bigger than we are. We want to maintain that grassroots feeling and a relaxed atmosphere. Every year we just want to improve on that experience and make set up easier for the artists.
We’d love to see more artists apply and have more people attend.
5. How have you seen the Birmingham art community evolve since the inception of Artwalk?
I think you see a lot more activity whether its smaller individual shows or existing galleries continuing to foster creativity.
One of the big things I’ve seen is the young group that has started Art Crawl. It’s been a wonderful opportunity for artists to do something a little bit smaller in nature. It’s also great to have people out and about Downtown every month. They’ve been great friends in promoting Artwalk and we’ve tried to do everything we can to help them get off the ground.
For more information visit: http://www.birminghamartwalk.org/