Crowds stroll to Little Italy for ArtWalk
by Sebastian Ruiz
Apr 26, 2007 | 1141 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The 23rd annual ArtWalk Festival will fill historic Little Italy with works by acclaimed artists Saturday, April 28, and Sunday, April 29, from noon to 6 p.m. both days. Visitors can spend the weekend with approximately 400 artists in what promises to be an eclectic mix of diverse displays, said Sandi Cottrell, managing director of ArtWalk.

India Street and Kettner Boulevard will serve as the main thoroughfares, with five music stages, a stage for group performance and more than 340 artist canopies from Fir Street south to Beech Street. Although there are plenty of parking lots, Cottrell suggested taking the trolley to the Little Italy stop right in the heart of the event to avoid traffic.

ArtWalk has grown in reputation and quality over the last several years, she said. An estimated 80,000 people are expected to attend San Diego's premiere spring art event.

"What originally started out as a small group of artists that got together to show their work many years ago has definitely taken on an importance in San Diego. It's been growing each year," Cottrell said.

The ArtWalk Festival features performers, artists and activities throughout the weekend. Live musical performances along India Steet include Alfred Howard and the K23 Orchestra, The Grams, Peter Hall and Israel Maldonado and others.

Dance and performance groups will also join the fun. Groups such as Ballet Folklorico Tapatio and Eveoke Dance Theatre will bring multicultural performance art and dance to Amici Park.

KidsWalk, also at Amici Park, will feature local arts organizations and local schools will have interactive activities and performances for children, Cottrell said.

ArtWalk also features the latest development of the Art Miles Mural Project. The international project promotes world peace through joining artists from all over the world to create 12 miles of murals, each with a different theme. This year's ArtWalk theme is "The Fairy Tale Mile." Participating artists or group will paint a "storybook cover" piece on a 5-by-6-foot canvas. The completed mural will eventually join other murals from around the world to create a mural that will wrap around the Great Pyramids of Egypt by 2010, according to the ArtWalk's Web site.

But what would ArtWalk be without its featured artists?

Among the hundreds of artists displaying their work under canopies, ArtWalk will host 12 feature artists who specialize in various media. The featured artists' work range from oil paintings of San Diego landscapes, to digital software used to create mathematical, abstract surreal images.

Award-winning artist Jeff Yeomans has participated in the ArtWalk Festival since the early 1990s. He will display about a dozen of his paintings as a featured artist. His art can range in price from $300 for some of his smaller paintings to $4,000 for the larger ones.

Yeomans has won some local awards, including Best of Show in the La Jolla Art Association's plein air exhibition, he said. He specializes in painting San Diego landscapes and beach culture.

For Yeomans, ArtWalk acts as strong conduit between the people who live here and the people who work here as artists. He has developed an audience and enjoys getting new people to see his work, he said.

"It's fun making that connection with someone who appreciates what you're doing," he said.

La Jolla artist Michael Sussna will participate. Sussna, who is also a published poet, creates fractal art using digital computer graphics. He received a Ph.D. in computer science and cognitive science from the University of California, San Diego, and began developing computer software in 1973. Twelve years later, he turned to fractal art. Sussna, who calls his geometric artworks "photoreal abstracts," has also explored theoretical work in number theory, multivalued logic, physical chemistry, statistical analysis of baseball and semantics-based information retrieval.

The success of ArtWalk depends largely on a volunteer work force that helps guide the event along. The volunteers are essential because they provide information to guests, help set up the canopies and act as a first line of defense in case of an emergency, said Carmen DeBello, director of the ArtWalk volunteer program. Last year, 141 volunteers contributed more than 1,000 hours. The effort helped save approximately $7,000, DeBello said.

However, volunteers don't go home completely empty-handed. They get to participate in exclusive raffles with chances to win donated original artwork, greeting cards and other assorted prizes, DeBello said.

"It's very satisfying; yeah, it's work "¦ but it's fun and you get to meet people," supervising volunteer Ira Hecht said. "It's really a great way for someone who is new in town to get to meet people in the art scene in San Diego."

DeBello said she needs to staff more volunteer positions with enthusiastic people willing to help out.

ArtWalk is San Diego's largest urban arts festival. Founded 23 years ago by local artists and art lovers, the event comes together every year to give individuals a chance to own, buy or sell original artwork by local and international artists.

For detailed information on artists and show listings, visit www.artwalkinfo.org. To volunteer, e-mail DeBello at cdebello@artwalkinfo.com or call (619) 615-1090.
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