VALLEJO - For more than seven years, on the second Friday of each month, local artists and crafters have displayed their wares on Vallejo's downtown sidewalks as restaurants, shops and galleries stay open late.
Launched on Valentine's Day in 2014, the Art Walk has become a fixture of Vallejo’s downtown. It grew out of a downtown arts renaissance when two arts establishments, The Hub and Artiszen Cultural Art Center – which have both closed in the years since – faced each other across Georgia Street.
Artists wanted to find ways to bring more business downtown and came up with the idea for the Art Walk. “When we started The Hub, we planted a seed,” Hub founder Chris Vardijian said. “Though The Hub is gone, the Vallejo Art Walk was born there. It's one of the best things Vallejo has going.”
In the years since, the Art Walk has been held each second Friday, rain or shine. “Consistency is the key to gathering a crowd,” Hub volunteer Sean Murdock said.
Vallejo's Art Walk has cycled through a number of different volunteers during its seven years in existence. The current administrator is Solano County Arts Council Executive Director Carmen Slack. “Every storefront represents the potential for growth, community connections and shared economic prosperity,” Slack said. “Every Artist represents our culture and free community expression.”
The Art Walk extends along Georgia Street between Sonoma Boulevard and Santa Clara Street, and Marin Street between Georgia and Capitol streets. The hub of activity is centered around Marin and Virginia streets, which currently sports the highest density of open businesses downtown.
There is no fee charged for sidewalk vendors to participate. The only requirement is that all items offered for sale are made, produced or grown by the artist. No resale, imported, mass produced or multi-level marketing products are allowed. All food vendors must be licensed by Solano County.
Live amplified music is permitted, but bands must be approved and scheduled to prevent a cacophony of conflicting sounds from overwhelming the event.
The artwork spans a huge range of styles, from the cute to the macabre.
Artist Larrian-Marie Taylor came to Vallejo from New Orleans about six months ago. Bright mixed media paintings and T-shirts adorn her table at the corner of Marin and Virginia. She says she’s been excited to come out to Art Walk and get a feel for the local art scene. “It’s been giving me more creative ideas,” she said.
Probably the youngest vendor at Art Walk is Myla J., who turns 13 this month. Smiling beside her table in front of her mother’s hairdressing shop, she described her “Yummie Collection” earrings in the shape of cookies, radishes and pizza slices as “weird and elegant at the same time.”
A darker aspect of Art Walk is found in prints by illustrator Nicholas Delgado. The gloomy fantasies evoke the mood of H.R.Giger and are described on his Facebook page as “creepily eye opening creatures".
Vendors' wares are not limited to arts, crafts and jewelry. Several specialize in herbal teas, handcrafted soaps, candles and bath oils. Riane Washington has brought her Empowerment Kulture herbal tea blends to every Art Walk since April. She started making tea blends after she weaned herself off coffee.
Gourmet food ingredients can be found at Anchor Pantry’s new and expanded site, with gourmet guest vendors like "Organically Delicious" Sole' Pickles and Sarah Cain’s “handmade booze-infused” Spirited Sweets on the sidewalk outside.
The Anchor Pantry and its neighbor, The Joint, were closed by a fire on May 17. The Joint is expected to reopen in November.
Three separate ceramics shops are open during Art Walk: Hagen Clay and Whitney Smith Pottery at opposite corners of Marin and Virginia, and TreeBed Design on Virginia.
Other notable brick and mortar participants are Alibi Bookshop on Marin, and Green Hive Spaces on Virginia, which houses a handful of interesting young artists in a small indoor gallery.
Temple Arts Lofts gallery at the corner of Marin and Virginia streets has displayed art in the storefront windows since late 2013 and has been open during most past Art Walks as a gallery featuring resident artists.
A few venues on the outskirts of downtown also join in the festivities. Boutique Classique on Sonoma, which sells new retro-styled women’s clothing, features live window models.
In October, the entertainment will feature the debut of Bay Area Cinema, which will screen a variety of family friendly films by local filmmakers and digital artists. Special guests will include Caroline “Mills” Miller of the Flaming Lotus Girls and V. Vale from RE/Search publishing. Bay Area Cinema will be hosted by Morningstar Delights at 401 Georgia St. from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Suggested donation $10.
The Vintage Vagabond, a new artist complex at 310 Georgia St., will provide a preview of Halloween with their Cursed Objects Tour & Sale, a collaboration with the Sacramento Zombie Club. Each tour will be a “mellow creepy experience” expected to last 15-20 minutes. Admission is $5 and kids are free.
The McCune room in the basement of the John F. Kennedy Library will host the artwork of Priscila Soares in October. The show features her large sculpture “The Spider and the Fly”, and paintings that depict her struggles with hearing loss.
Stan Clark’s giant glowing Astro Botanical sculptures will serve as illuminated signposts for the open venues after dark.
As light fades the local musicians emerge. Art Walk guests can groove to a jam session at Snap U Clear photography, or dance at IntegriTea’s afterparty with Air Lift Underground. If you're still in a festive mood as the activity on the street dies down after 9 p.m., you can wander over to the TownHouse Cocktail Lounge for more live music with Stolen Moments.
The dining options during Art Walk have greatly improved since the early days, when hungry patrons depended on food trucks. Several new restaurants that opened or expanded around the time of the pandemic will be open until 8 p.m. or later: Bambino's pizza and pasta, Elvia’s Sazon Mexican Street Food, Provisions gourmet café, and the most recent addition, Urban Cocina on Virginia Street, which offers "Cali Mexican Caribbean Fusion." The old standbys China Wok and Gracie's BBQ will be open during Art Walk as well.
Tymn Urban, a member of the Art Walk Committee and the musical group Everything Nowadays, said that the Art Walk helps foster a “peaceful, cooperative and supportive community.”
“If these ideals appeal to you as an artist or as an art lover, come out and find a way to be a part of the experience,” he said. “We are strengthening our commitment to creating a more harmonious city from the inside out."
Visit the website at vallejoartwalk.org for more information.
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THE VALLEJO SUN NEWSLETTER
Investigative reporting, regular updates, events and more
- Art Walk
- Chris Vardijian
- Solano County Arts Council
- Carmen Slack
- Larrian-Marie Taylor
- Nicholas Delgado
- Riane Washington
- Empowerment Kulture
- Anchor Pantry
- The Joint
- Hagen Clay
- Whitney Smith Pottery
- TreeBed Designs
- Alibi Bookshop
- Green Hive Spaces
- Temple Arts Lofts
- Boutique Classique
- Bay Area Cinema
- Flaming Lotus Girls
- V. Vale
- Caroline "Mills" Miller
- Morningstar Delights
- Vintage Vagabond
- Cursed Objects Tour & Sale
- Sacramento Zombie Club
- McCune Collection Commission
- John F. Kennedy library
- Stan Clark
- Snap U Clear
- Air Lift Underground
- TownHouse Cocktail Lounge
- Stolen Moments
- Elvia's Sazon Mexican Street Food
- Urban Cocina
- China Wok
- Everything Nowadays
- Tymn Urban
Gretchen Zimmermann started volunteering with Vallejo Open Studios in 2010, launched the Vallejo Arts and Entertainment website in 2014 and creates mixed media sculpture at Mare Island Art Studios.
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