Last artwalk sets optimism for next year

Downtown merchant Mallory Jackson prepares for Friday’s Art Walk. - Charlie Bermant
Downtown merchant Mallory Jackson prepares for Friday’s Art Walk.
— image credit: Charlie Bermant

Port Orchard will hold its final Waterfront Artwalk of the year today, fulfilling a six-month commitment meant to generate public interest in local artists and downtown merchants.

“This has been a wonderful event,” said former Port Orchard Mayor Kim Abel, who has worked as an artwalk organizer. “It has emphasized a part of Port Orchard that was not explored before.”

The Port Orchard Artwalk follows a different model than other local events. Instead of concentrating on galleries, organizers paired artists with different merchants that may not have an artistic orientation to begin with. The artists then display or create their work as the public interacts with them.

“It has been interesting to watch the artists develop a relationship with the community,” Abel said. “The public has been able to watch the artists work and see how they change over time.”

Manchester Gallery owner Paul Nuchims, who recruited the artists and paired them with local merchants, said few artists of the initial group have dropped out.

“The artists really like it,” Nuchims said. “They come here whether it rains or not.”

Custom Picture Framing owner Mallory Jackson can’t say whether the artwalk has increased her bottom line, but feels that it generally helps her business.

“In the long run it benefits all the merchants because more people come downtown to shop,” Jackson said.

Added Abel “I have come downtown and bought more things from local stores because of the artwalk.”

Abel and Jackson polled downtown merchants during the September artwalk and found an almost universal support for its continuation next year.

It will most likely start up again in the spring, with at least two events occurring during the hiatus — a one-time artwalk coinciding with Chimes and Lights and a February fundraiser.

The Port Orchard Waterfront Artwalk takes place from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Oct. 16 in 32 locations in downtown Port Orchard.

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