Rebecca Cross: First Friday ArtWalk marks third anniversary

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Happy Birthday First Friday ArtWalk!

This Friday marks the third anniversary since the ArtWalk made its debut in downtown Elizabeth City.

ArtWalk was born in February 2011, and continues to grow in popularity as a downtown stroll of galleries, studios, restaurants and local businesses. It all began with the idea to get people downtown to enjoy the rich artistic culture our local community has to offer. It’s grown to celebrate art and artists within the downtown culture of our unique businesses.

“Elizabeth City is so fortunate to have the First Friday ArtWalk,” says Charlotte Underwood, Director, EC Convention & Visitors Bureau. “I’ve watched it grow over the past three years from a small community event to a destination for visitors who make a weekend of it. The number of participants continues to grow as does the diversity of the artists. Happy Birthday on your 3rd successful year!”

Three years ago, Natalie Peel (then at AoA) called Dru Thompson of Red Rabbit Art Gallery and Debbie Malenfant at City Wine Sellar and said, “Let’s have a First Friday ArtWalk.” Together the three collaborated to form the very first ArtWalk, branding the event by placing each other’s logos on marketing material.

It was the beginning of something great, and from the start, Elizabeth City was hooked. Restaurants, shops, coffee shops and more local studios were ready to participate. Each month new locations and new artists were added to the event.

Elizabeth City Downtown, Inc. (ECDI) was asked to take responsibility for the event that Spring, and ECCVB (Elizabeth City Convention and Visitors Bureau) came alongside with financial support to help build the event to greater prominence. Dylan Wreggelsworth played an important role by setting up a website, ecncart.com (an abbreviation for “Elizabeth City NC art”), as the place to go to find out who participates, and where they’re located.

Many people worked together to help make this a successful event for our downtown and our entire community. Shortly after starting the ArtWalk, Port Discover and Serenity Studio Arts added kids’ Art Friday nights where children can participate, too.

The First Friday ArtWalk now happens every first Friday of each month. Studios, galleries, businesses and restaurants downtown open their doors from about 5:30 to 7:30ish that night to host local artists who display their works and offer them for sale. Also, several locations provide free refreshments. The ArtWalk brings excellent exposure to both the artist and the business in a fun social outing.

Tina Clancy, owner of Two and A Half Women noted, “ArtWalk has been a huge catalyst for (us) to help bring attention to our local artists. Our shop features the art of over 130 artists from Virginia and North Carolina, in addition to our home-grown ones.”

Another wonderfully successful ArtWalk is expected this coming Friday, Feb. 7. Look for the rack cards available to pick up at each ArtWalk location. It will show a list of all participants and their locations for Friday. We will even have a “Fire breather” from OBX performing near Moth Boat Park to celebrate our third birthday!

We enjoy getting calls and emails from new businesses and artists wanting to participate each month. We are hoping to bring more street art and involvement of our local school and college students by getting more involved with their art and music departments.

We would love to add you to our partcipants’ list for this popular event if you’re a budding artist (or a seasoned one) or a downtown business. For more information please contact ECDI at 338-4104 or email to: firstfridayartwalk@ecdowntown.com.

See you downtown!