OCEANSIDE — A number of events marked the one-year anniversary of the monthly Oceanside Art Walk. A cake-cutting ceremony was held Aug. 4, and an ARTiversary walk took place on Aug. 7 to celebrate a successful first year.
Key organizers gathered on Aug. 4 to look back on the year.
“For me the highlight was the very first Art Walk,” Rick Wright, MainStreet Oceanside executive director, said. “Seeing people moving around in the downtown, all different types of people, strollers, dogs, older people, people you know. It was a signal to me downtown was moving up.”
On Aug. 7 the monthly Art Walk took on the name “ARTiversary” to recognize the date and artists and business participants.
The Art Walk brings together Oceanside Museum of Art, The Hill Street Country Club and other art galleries, MainStreet Oceanside, Civic Center Library, theaters, artists and businesses. Doors are open to the public free of charge, and past regular business hours for some shops, to allow people to visit downtown and experience art.
Shops display paintings and sculptures. Musicians play outside. There are video displays, author booths and unexpected fun.
The Art Walk drew some well-known artists its first year, including Charles Bibbs, an internationally known, highly stylized technical figurative painter.
There were also pop-up shows in non-art spaces within businesses and along the sidewalk, and community art projects.
Maps are made for each walk, which have a unique overall theme. Snacks and drinks invite visitors to stay, enjoy the art and get to know the businesses.
“It’s good for businesses to put artwork in their storefronts,” Wright said. “They’re
seeing traffic they wouldn’t normally see.”
The Art Walk was launched by the Oceanside Cultural Consortium, a think tank of city arts interests, businesses and government leaders.
“We were looking for one direction, one project that had something in it for everyone,” Daniel Foster, former executive director of Oceanside Museum of Art, said. “The Art Walk event is a true community-wide event that benefits all, art interests and the business community.”
The Hill Street Country Club held several pop-up art shows. Then the downtown Art Walk began.
“It was a monumentally hard effort,” Foster said.
Foster said planning, advertising and holding the event takes hours of work, and then repeats in 30 days. He added the crowd the event draws makes monthly efforts worthwhile.
“I heard over and over again, ‘I’ve been waiting 30 years to see this kind of thing happen,’” Foster said. “There is power for an art work to transform a community. The first year was a good solid step in this direction.”
The decision was made to hold the Art Walk the first Friday of each month year round to established regularity and increase the draw.
Foster said the museum saw more than 3,000 visitors on a peak Art Walk night, and 300 to 500 during lower turnouts in winter, or due to bad weather.
“They were 300 people who usually don’t come to the museum, I was pleased with that,” Foster said.
“We had a very successful first year,” Foster said. “We proved the event.”
Foster said a solid partnership between the business and arts community was formed through the event. He added the next step is to demand funding for arts leadership in order to brand the city as an arts destination.
“In my opinion business and livability only improved through arts, culture, music, dance, performing arts — a wide array of offerings,” Foster said.
Foster said he sees an untapped potential in the 800,000-plus North County residents who hunger for arts and entertainment.
“Arts, culture, entertainment are flourishing downtown,” Foster said. “It’s a transformative formula for Main Street.”
Plans are to continue the Art Walk the first Friday of each month year round.