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First Friday Artwalk goes virtual

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — April’s First Friday Artwalk will feature plenty of art but not much walk — except perhaps between the couch and the kitchen for a cheese plate restock or a wine refill. For the first time ever, in light of Colorado’s stay-at-home order, Steamboat Springs’ Artwalk tradition will exist not in downtown galleries, shops and restaurants, but as a virtual experience on the world wide web. 

Artwalk’s new format is the brainchild of Steamboat artist Jill Bergman. 

“Artists and creatives are often in the first group who are hurt financially during a recession, and this time, what we are living through isn’t just about the economy — it’s a strange and frightening new experience for all of us,” Bergman said. “So, I wanted to have a way for our art community to still promote ourselves for business but also have a way to simply bring the new art we are creating to our friends who are hurting and might get some pleasure from it.”

Steamboat Creates Development Coordinator Dagny McKinley reworked the Steamboat Creates website to host the virtual event. Visual Arts Coordinator Barb King contacted Artwalk’s usual participating businesses; she estimates that about three-quarters of them were interested in taking part.

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The virtual artwalk begins at 5 p.m. Friday, April 3, at steamboatcreates.org/first-friday-artwalk. From there, viewers can click their way through different galleries and studios at their own pace, experiencing one featured work of art per artist in each “space.” Viewers can also delve into several videos, including a gallery tour of Pine Moon Fine Art and book reviews by Off the Beaten Path staff.

Art pricing and information about purchasing is available, as well as paths to explore more of each artist’s work. 

Spaces participating in April’s Artwalk include Gallery 89, Imagine Studios, Jace Romick Gallery, Off the Beaten Path, Pine Moon Fine Art, Riverwalk Collective, Solar Flare Glasswork & Design, Squire Studios, Tread of Pioneers, Wildhorse Gallery and Windfall Fine Art Gallery. A total of about 50 local artists will be featured, including photographers, painters, printmakers, jewelry makers, textile artists, and sculptors of glass, bronze and paper.

“I’m looking forward to seeing artwork and connecting with other artists in the community,” Bergman said. “I think this is an opportunity for us all to appreciate the creativity and talent in Steamboat Springs.”

“Enjoy it; treat it as a special night in,” Barb King, visual arts coordinator for Steamboat Creates, said. “So many people in town look forward to Artwalk, to getting out there, to talking with people, to having a glass of wine. We want people to do all this in the safety of their homes.”

Also recommended to accompany a virtual art walk are a cozy blanket, a snuggly pet and a steady supply of snacks to power the journey. 

Organizers are also looking ahead to future Artwalks — both during the duration of the stay-at-home order and past it. 

“Having local artwork online in one place makes it possible for us to share our art with people in Steamboat who aren’t able to physically walk downtown and with those people who love Steamboat but live in different communities,” Bergman said. 

If you go

What: April’s First Friday Artwalk
When: 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, April 3
Where: steamboatcreates.org/first-friday-artwalk
Participants:
• Gallery 89
• Imagine Studios
• Jace Romick Gallery
• Off the Beaten Path
• Pine Moon Fine Art
• Riverwalk Collective
• Solar Flare Glasswork & Design
• Squire Studios
• Tread of Pioneers Museum
• Wildhorse Gallery
• Windfall Fine Art Gallery

King notes that brainstorms for future virtual artwalks include bringing in artists new to the Artwalk scene, as well as local musicians, who have long played at participating galleries and shops during downtown Artwalks. 

Julia Ben-Asher is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today.


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