33 years and going strong
At this year's Riverwest ArtWalk, more than 30 galleries, studios, businesses and homes participated and displayed works by more than 80 artists.
There’s something about the Riverwest neighborhood that inherently attracts and produces artists. It is perhaps the strong sense of community among residents who have built on the passion for art and an outside-of-the-box sensibility for years. Much of the art you see in Riverwest, either in galleries, bars, or back alley walls, are expressive, dynamic and often daring.
This past weekend, the Riverwest Artists Association held its annual ArtWalk. More than 30 galleries, studios, businesses, homes and a church participated and displayed artworks by more than 80 artists. The 33-year tradition brings out neighborhood residents and out-of-towners to gather in appreciation of art and community. The Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra performed an impressive set on Saturday at the Jazz Gallery, and students from La Escuela Fratney displayed their artwork at Cafe Corazon.
Artwalk coordinator Susan Buss said the event not only is a great way for accomplished artists to show their new work, but also gives up-and-coming artists a chance to gain experience and have their work seen. One art walker described the event and neighborhood as being “like a mini Soho or Greenwich Village,” and said it was great to feel a sense of community through a common appreciation of art.
Artist Amy Schmutte, who has shown her abstract glass photography at numerous art festivals and events throughout Wisconsin, including Lakefront Festival of the Arts, said that Riverwest Artwalk is by far her favorite.
“There’s no denying the support for artists in this neighborhood” she said. This was Schmutte’s fifth year exhibiting her work at the Feedshop on Center Street and has gathered a following. Many who’ve purchased her work in previous years were happy to find her there once again and were eager to see her new pieces.
The First year participant celebrating its first anniversary this fall, Dominion Gallery at 804 E. Wright Street won “Best in Show” and “Best Hidden Gem.” Visitors were intrigued by fanciful pastel portraitures by artist Carol Curley. There was also a quadtych portrait of her taken by celebrated photographer Francis Ford with fake mustaches stuck over the photograph. Bins of artwork lined the foot of the walls, featuring pieces by Diana Rivera, Ingrid Awan, Raven Dimitri, and many more. Gallery owner Stonie Rivera and her crew of artists were there to engage visitors with charm and hospitality.
Just as Riverwest will never be without artists, the Artwalk will never be without supporters. Year after year, the community’s desire for artistic expression have been fulfilled while providing an opportunity for those outside the community to be a part of it.