Art Appreciation with ArtHop in Downtown FresnoOct 24, 2016 11:00AM ● By Kimberly Horg
By Kimberly Horg
Hop, skip and jump away to ArtHop in downtown Fresno and the Tower District. The 20–year-old art appreciation night was started by local artists who modeled it after the First Thursday in Seattle and Portland as well as Downtown Saturday Night in Tucson.
Artists talked to people in the Tucson Art District about the event and with the help of city council members, the event took off.
“The community response has been phenomenal. We receive weekly calls about ArtHop, either new venues or artists looking to participate. The best thing about it is that each month is a little different and it is family friendly,” says Lilia Gonzáles Chávez, executive director of the Fresno Arts Council.
Artist studios, galleries, museums and other venues exhibit art and host an artists’ reception during ArtHop. Each of the 65 venues and artists who participate is unique. Although the arts council often seeks out local artists to participate, artists present themselves looking for a venue to show art, as well, and all artists are welcome.
The main goal of ArtHop is to bring attention and sales to artists in the community. “It also serves as a community building opportunity as the arts traditionally have. Participating in viewing art is a social opportunity where people come together to share ideas and a common experience,” she says.
Bruce Kalkowski, owner of 1821 Gallery and Studios, opened four years ago during ArtHop. Located in Fresno’s Cultural Arts District, the gallery features a range of original work, from painting and sculpture to works on paper and photography. The Fresno art gallery is the studio space for artists Bibi Bielat, Elaine Callahan and Daniel VanGerpen.
The gallery is in the heart of a part of town called the Mural Arts District due to the abundance of urban art on downtown buildings, including the roll-up door of the gallery. The 1821 Gallery has become a must-see on ArtHop night, as it cultivates an atmosphere of excellence and provides an art collecting experience for its clients.
“We were nervous and not sure if anybody would find us. Fortunately, the public did find us, and we’ve been successful ever since,” Kalkowski says. “We have participated enthusiastically in each ArtHop.”
He promotes other artists’ work, too. His gallery always has the Fresno Art Council ArtHop maps on hand to advertise other galleries and studios nearby.
“ArtHop has steadily grown over the years. It has brought people downtown who may have been reluctant to do so for various reasons, and made them believers in the downtown transformation that is occurring. Not only do they see a vibrant art scene but also new housing and businesses that have recently invested in the area,” he says.
According to Kalkowski, ArtHop is valuable to artists because they are able to reach a greater cross section of the Central Valley and promote art.
His goal is to entice the public to visit more than just one night a month. His gallery is committed to providing exposure and representation for its artists by opening Wednesday through Friday from 11 am to 5 pm and Saturday from noon until 4 pm.
“In the future, we hope to strengthen opportunities for local artists to get greater recognition and for Fresno to be recognized statewide as a destination for visitors interested in purchasing high-quality art,” Chávez says.
The free ArtHop is the first and third Thursday of each month. Art enthusiasts of all ages stroll through downtown Fresno and the Tower District on the first Thursday, and the rest of the ArtHop venues in the Fresno metro areas take place on the third Thursday. Guests meet and greet the artists and are treated to a reception and music. Museums, studios, galleries and other venues open exhibitions to the public from 5 to 8 pm.
For more information or to download a map of ArtHop, visit www.fresnoartscouncil.org/arthop.
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