EASTHAMPTON – After a 25-month hiatus, the monthly Art Walk is returning to the city this Friday.
The Art Walk was due to return originally last September and then in February, but with surges in COVID-19 variants delta and omicron the once-monthly event was put on hold out of concern for the safety of both artists and the public, according to Pasqualina Azzarello of Easthampton City Arts, the organizer of the event.
“This is a very special occasion – and we have been counting,” Azzarello said. “We miss our beloved celebration of artists and the work they created.”
The last event took place in March 2020. Before the pandemic, the Art Walk was a longstanding tradition in Easthampton, with the free event featuring exhibits in a number of the city’s galleries, restaurants and storefronts held the first Friday of each month for more than a decade.
As part of the April 1 relaunch, City Arts is introducing QR codes on its posters. While out in the city, passersby can use the camera on their smartphone to hover over the QR code, which will redirect them to the City Arts website featuring all the listings along the self-guided Art Walk. Listings are also available via easthamptoncityarts.com or in the bio of the group’s Instagram @easthamptoncityarts.
The revived Art Walk has more than 15 venues with visual art on display. Among those is the Oxbow Gallery, which moved last year from Northampton to 40 Cottage St. in Easthampton. From 5 to 8 pm, the Oxbow will host two artist receptions for Frances Kidder’s “Sacred Encounters” work and Doreen LaScola’s “Breakthrough” work.
Kidder’s paintings were inspired by some of Rembrandt’s lesser known drawings and etchings of Bible subjects. LaScola’s paintings feature the artist’s recent discoveries unifying the energy and spontaneity of her plein air work with the abstraction and concept of her studio work, as well as the meditations she began during the isolation period of the pandemic, according to an exhibit description.
City Arts has also partnered with Galaxy to offer a menu with items that have been designed for patrons to be able to “grab and go” to the simultaneous art events taking place in the city.
Local cartoonist Connor O’Rourke will have some “quality weirdo art” from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at Daily Operation, which reopened its eatery in the Eastworks building in February.
From 6 to 9 pm, painting and visual artist Malaika Ross will have an open studio at 43 Main St. to show her current work in progress, which is being created during her Easthampton City Arts’ workspace residency and her microbial drawings and paintings from 2021. Also on display will be her winter 2022 collection.
Azzarello said the ECA Gallery is currently booking through next March, as all of the artists that were originally booked to show before the pandemic shuttered the ongoing event have shifted to the slots throughout the next year.
“Artists have been as flexible and patient as we’ve been navigating these uncharted waters together,” she said.
The Art Walk also kicks off the start of National Poetry Month, which will be recognized throughout the month in the city through several soon-to-be-announced events. Updates will be available at easthamptoncityarts.com. On Friday, Easthampton-based artist and ceremonialist Amber Tina Bartosz will showcase visual and written artwork at the ECA Gallery from 6 to 9 pm
New to the Art Walk is home decor store Olivia Pearl Interiors, which opened at 106 Cottage St. last April. Easthampton embroidery artist Emily Porter’s work will be on display among the store’s farmhouse-style home furnishings. Porter uses a sewing machine, thread and ink to create bold and surreal illustrations with themes including power, nature and mental health awareness.
“It’s been really encouraging to see how so many local artists and businesses have navigated this pandemic. Artists and businesses have come together in many ways – Easthampton really kept working and bettering, “Azzarello said.” There is a real pervasive community spirit here where businesses and organizations want to engage through service. “
Emily Thurlow can be reached at email@example.com.