Struggling Third Friday Art Walk in downtown Wilkes-Barre changes to Art Block with new approach
From a press release:
Art walk events are creative and economic catalysts in communities across the United States, including Scranton with its long-running First Friday program. Not only do they encourage a wider appreciation of the arts in the community, they also foster patronage in neighboring restaurants and businesses. In many areas, the arts have been a driving force for a better quality of living while also reflecting the unique culture of the town it represents.
The Third Friday Art Walk of Wilkes-Barre has struggled in recent years. While keystone organizations such as the Wyoming Valley Art League and the Second Floor Gallery of Marquis Art & Frame have seen wide support, other stops on the 12-venue walk have struggled. In recognizing the “silo effect” of the walk and with the re-location of the Sordoni Art Gallery at Wilkes University, the Third Friday Art Walk has revisited its approach, starting with a name change.
With what has now become three keystone organizations of the art walk, it seemed fitting to develop an arts district on the second block of South Main Street, now referred to as Art Block. Art Block maintains the third Friday evening of gallery openings, but the important difference is a holistic experience of the arts outside of the gallery as a way to counteract “silo-ed events” occurring on the same night.
Art Block is the creative location of Wilkes-Barre where people can not only view art, but experience art. While patrons can take in the work of artists of regional, national, and international acclaim at any one of the Art Block locations, they might also participate in creating the art work themselves. Visitors can contribute to a community mural, an art installation, witness a performance piece, or watch a live art demonstration.
Art Block encourages traditional viewing inside the gallery as well as experiential viewing out on the street and in the district. During the September 2017 Art Walk, the Sordoni Art Gallery experimented by offering a live demonstration of the artists of the Keystone College Mobile Glass Studio. This was met with wild success. Using that example, the Sordoni Art Gallery has commissioned the Tape Artists to create a temporary mural out of painters tape while also conducting leadership workshops
with community organizations during the third week of July 2018.
While Art Block activities will be focused on the second block of South Main Street, they welcome participation by all local artists. Non-resident participants will be accommodated at the Art Block venues. In addition, they also plan to include an Art Block stage during each event to accommodate local performing artists.
Future Art Block event goals include a showing of art cars, a large scale puppet pageant, pieces of public art, yarn bombing, and various other public interventions.
Closing this announcement with a mission statement of sorts, organizers wrote: “The Art Block experience is not just about fostering respect for culture. Participating in the arts allows a deeper understanding of oneself and nurtures an investment in our community’s vitality. The future of Art Block relies on the audience experience of the arts in a way that is unique to the region – fully engaged and thoughtfully Wilkes-Barre.”