Art Walk aims to revitalize Amherst’s art culture

By Patrick MacCormack

(Collegian file photo)
(Collegian file photo)

In downtown Amherst, 11 venues displayed local artists’ work as they do the first Thursday of every month in the Amherst Art Walk. Mari Anne Connelly, longtime A3 Art Gallery member, said the Art Walk is as popular as it’s ever been among locals.

Typically, the first stop for those participating in the walk is the A3 Art Gallery, located next to Amherst Cinema. On this day, Connelly was promoting the artwork of one of the gallery’s 16 members.

The flow of patrons to the gallery was noticeable, and reminded Connelly that her gallery was contributing to the revitalization of the art culture in Amherst. “It’s lively again,” she said.

The Amherst Art Walk Committee has organized the event since 2002. Those who attend can choose between walking or taking a trolley to each venue.

Other towns in the area, such as Northampton, have similar walks to display the artwork of professional and semiprofessional community artists.

Connelly, who moved to Amherst from Boston, said the success of the Amherst Art Walk was not always guaranteed.

These artists used to show their work in the former location of the A3 Gallery, where Amherst Coffee is currently located. The studio was connected to Amherst Cinema until the building was condemned in the early 2000s.

“We had a dip when the theater closed,” Connelly said.

Connelly said local artists stuck around, which allowed them to strike a deal with the building owner who was re-building the theater. The A3 gallery was relocated to its current location today.

Sue Katz was one of those artists who remained. According to Katz, after the complex was renovated and the new art studio was ready, a new feeling was in the air. In 2002, the Amherst Art Walk opened for its first night. Katz recalled that night was so full they could not open the door.

“It elevates the whole cultural scene,” Katz said.
Other noteworthy locations on the Art Walk include Hope and Feathers Framing and Gallery on Main Street, the Amherst Historical Society and Jones Library.

At the Burnett Gallery Jones Library location, the theme of the night was “Barns of New England.” It also celebrated the agricultural background of much of the area, and also showed artistic representations of Western Massachusetts scenery.

According to the Amherst Art Walk Committee website, the objective of the coalition of artists is to offer new and exciting ways for people to create and display their art.

At the Amherst Historical Society, an Amherst High School student displayed one of his photographs and sold it for $30. The photographer noted how he became familiar with the Art Walk, saying he would go when he was younger with his mother.

The next Art Walk will take place Dec. 4.

Patrick MacCormack can be reached at [email protected]