It only takes a quick stroll through Petoskeys quaint downtown area to see that theres a strong art presence, especially where landscape art (a big draw for visitors) is concerned; if youve ever wanted your walls to capture every single mood of the bay and the surrounding area, you could certainly do that by acquiring art from Petoskeys extensive selection of galleries.
THE START OF ART
Carlin Smith, Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce president, and Liz Ahrens, Crooked Tree Arts Centers executive director, put their heads together with the intent of coming up with an event that would promote the growing number of art galleries in downtown, and that would further enhance Petoskeys downtown image, Downtown Director Becky Goodman explains.
Goodman is enthused about the numbers, which grow each year, right along with the event itself as more and more people find out about it.
We have had people from around the country, she says. Many resorters have even begun their summer stays based on the date of the Gallery Walk. We also draw a strong Northern Michigan group.
As far as gallery participants, theres a strong group of those, too - this years roster includes over a dozen locales, among them Ciao Bella! Garden and Home Gallery, Northern Art Wildlife Art Gallery, Valerie Fine Art, Cold Nose Productions, and of course The Crooked Tree Art Centers Art Tree Gallery.
MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE
The event is unique in that, as much as its an artistic exhibition, its also quite the social event and something akin to a scavenger hunt, complete with prizes. Special Gallery Walk maps are the key to it all - attendees can pick up free maps at the Petoskey Chamber of Commerce downtown, or at any of the participating galleries, starting about a week before the event and the night of. As people visit the galleries, each gallery will give them a dot sticker to put on their map, and by the end of the Gallery Walk, participants turn in their maps and receive a numbered ticket for each sticker; extra stickers can also be earned by purchasing items during the event.
Once the Gallery Walk is over, a whole new level of fun begins; the more dots you collect, the more chances you have to win when the numbers are drawn later that night, with winners receiving original works of art donated by the galleries.
And thats not all - theres also an afterglow party held in the Rose Garden of Staffords Perry Hotel, with the Jim Owen Trio providing entertainment.
But even with all of these diversions, its still the art thats the focus.
My opinion, from a downtown professionals point of view, is that the galleries we have in Petoskey are lovely additions to the business mix that creates a shopping experience that is on a par with some of the best shopping districts in the country, Goodman says. The galleries draw people who love beautiful things, and there are many beautiful things to be shopped for in all of our downtown.
Goodman, who is responsible for downtown revitalization projects, is also a fan of landscapes, but likes historic poster and commercial art as well; so for her, the more galleries and the more diverse they are, the better.
I would love to see more galleries in downtown, she continues. I also coordinate Petoskeys Art in the Park, and I am very proud of that prestigious and fine event. I think there is room for new artists, and I would welcome talking to anyone who is interested in finding gallery space.
GROWING ARTISTIC COMMUNITY
Petoskey appears to be quickly catching up to Traverse City in the range and amount of art that is becoming available to the public. Goodman thinks that Petoskeys art is premiere, of course! - but she also believes theres room for everyone. Shes quick to give credit where credit is due, as well; Goodman turned over her Express photo op for this article to the very deserving and quirkily-named T. Jones, the volunteer chair of Gallery Walk, who has chaired the event since its inception.
Its all about downtown Petoskey, and all about the art for Goodman, who just wants to see a good turnout and more support of the arts throughout the region.
I actually tend to not be so territorial when it comes to art in Northern Michigan, she explains. Im proud to live in an area where there is such an emphasis on art, and where there are so many people earning their livings in such a fulfilling way. It spills over into everything else. Im sure it relates to the fact that we live in such a beautiful place; we attract people who appreciate beautiful things.
Petoskeys Annual Gallery Walk is set to take place June 19 from 5:30 p.m.
to 9 p.m., while The 23rd Annual Art in the Park is set for Saturday, July
19. For more information, check out