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VOL. 127 | NO. 46 | Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Groups Seeking Regional Work For Artwalk

By Andy Meek

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Downtown businesses have the space. Now all they need are the artists to fill what will essentially be pop-up galleries around the city’s core.

The Downtown Memphis Commission and Downtown Neighborhood Association are preparing to launch “Unveil Downtown,” a 20-day so-called “artwalk” Downtown that will showcase the work of 20 artists from across the region.

That work will be displayed in exhibit spaces in 20 Downtown restaurants and retail businesses. Each artist will be allowed to exhibit and sell eight to 10 pieces of artwork and get to keep 100 percent of the proceeds of any sales.

Selected artists will be required to donate one piece of their work for an online auction that will raise money for the Downtown Neighborhood Association.

Leslie Gower, vice president of marketing and communications for the Downtown Memphis Commission, said artists chosen for the inaugural artwalk will be offered exhibit space in businesses all within a walkable distance of each other. She got the idea from a similar program done in Thomasville, Ga.

“This is a program done by the Thomasville Center for the Arts,” she said. “It’s been incredibly successful for their businesses. Their donations go back to the art center, but ours are going to the DNA, because we’re trying to make the DNA stronger. They are our loudest voice for Downtown, so we need to help them get as strong as they can, so that when we have legislation and other things coming up, we can rely on them to help be that voice.

“The Thomasville group was so gracious. They pretty much gave us a guide book and said, ‘This is how we did it.’ And they raised tens of thousands of dollars for their art program through this.”

Artist applications and event details are available at www.unveildowntown.com. Submissions are due by March 23, and after the entries are judged, selected artists will be notified on March 30.

The event launch will happen June 1 with a cocktail party for the artists, gallery owners, sponsors, volunteers, DNA members, DMC board members and members of the media. Also that day, artists will host opening receptions at designated gallery spaces.

Once artists are chosen, they’ll be assigned to specific gallery spaces in the participating businesses, a full run-down of which is available at the Unveil Downtown website.

“It’s a real easy process to apply,” Gower said. “We just need to see images of your current work, and then it’s a really brief application. The judges will get together at the end of the month and look through all the pieces. And we hope to get all kinds of media, from weavings to sculptures to paintings and illustrations.

“We’re just getting our feet wet with this project this year, and then we’ll tweak it for the next year. And hopefully, it’ll just keep growing.”

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