Art Walk will soon turn downtown into Keene’s largest art gallery, open 24/7.
The 28th annual Keene Art Walk — also holding the distinction of being the longest-running event in town — begins May 31 and continues for 10 days, showcasing fine arts in downtown merchants’ shop windows. This year’s juried event, a program of the Keene Downtown Group, will feature the work of 80 artists in 50 street-level downtown businesses and will close Sunday, June 9.
It gives pedestrians the chance to take a break from their busy day, stroll down the sidewalks and enjoy some nice art any time that suits them. Media represented includes painting (oil, watercolor, acrylic, colored pencil), photography, sculpture, pottery, fabric and digital art and mixed media.
There are professional artists participating as well as novices, including students from Keene High School, The Monadnock Waldorf High School and Monadnock Regional High School. Many artists have participated in the art walk since its inception, and several are new to the event this year.
First-time locations in Keene Art Walk include Toadstool Bookshop on Emerald Street, the new League of New Hampshire Craftsmen gallery on Central Square and 17 Rox Artist Studios on Roxbury Street. Other locations with art on display in their windows are on Washington and West streets. A list of locations will be posted in several windows downtown, at the Greater Keene Chamber of Commerce and at most coffee shops.
“The hope is that visitors will honor artists by taking a few minutes to walk down the side streets,” said Madeline Ullrich, in her fifth year as Keene Art Walk coordinator. Ullrich is also a painter.
“It’s a good opportunity for artists, not only as exposure for their work but to sell it,” she said. “Plus, it’s a good opportunity for people to purchase original artwork.”
She added anyone interested in purchasing artwork can obtain a price list inside each business where the art is displayed.
It all opens Friday, May 31, with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. featuring live music provided by Kyle Trombley at Mon Amie Fine Jewelry at 87 Main St. Live music will continue that evening with a performance by Six Feet Above from 6 to 8 p.m. at Railroad Square.
Among other festivities during the art walk are a meet-the-artists at their windows day and downtown reception on Saturday, June 1, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. with face painting at Creative Encounters from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; a block party June 1, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., at Good Fortune (rain date June 8); and a Keene on Canvas outdoor community event June 1 and June 8 (bring your own materials and paint downtown), from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. both days.
A first-time event at Keene Art Walk will be Morris dancing Saturday, June 1, from 3:15 to 4 p.m., at Railroad Square. Morris dance is a form of English folk dance usually accompanied by music. It is based on rhythmic stepping and the execution of choreographed figures by a group of dancers, usually wearing bell pads on their shins. Implements such as sticks, swords and handkerchiefs may also be wielded by the dancers.
In addition to enjoying artwork and events, Ullrich encourages pedestrians to do more than window shop by taking a further look inside the participating businesses.
“These businesses are giving up their prime real estate (in their front windows) for an entire week.” she said.