Artists, Merchants Prep For 1st Castro Art Walk

This week, ten businesses will participate in the first Castro Art Walk—an event that organizers plan to host regularly from 6–9pm on the first Thursday of each month.  

During the inaugural walk, neighbors can visit participating merchants who are showcasing local artwork and offering free workshops.

Angie Sticher of Spark Arts and Alycia Piazza of Art Attack SF are two of the art walk’s organizers.

Piazza said she participated in a regularly scheduled neighborhood art walk when Art Attack was located in North Beach.

“After a year and a half,” Piazza said, “we had a steady group of visitors and locals that were excited to see what we’re doing. When we moved to the Castro, we couldn’t wait for the neighborhood art walk—until we learned there wasn’t one.”

Art Attack will host a printmaking workshop this week. | Photo: Art Attack/Facebook

According to Sticher, a neighborhood art walk was on her wish list for a while, but it wasn’t until Art Attack moved to the Castro that the event saw traction.

“We’ve been looking for ways to to bring artists in touch with Castro merchants,” Sticher said. In June, the two gallery owners began to coordinate a neighborhood art walk with a September launch as their goal.

For the past two years, Sticher worked on the Windows for Harvey celebratory art walk. She said that she’s learned a lot that can be applied to keep an ongoing event up and running.

“The whole ‘if you build it, they will come’ isn’t true,” Sticher said. “Small business owners just don’t always have the time [to participate]. That’s why we’re taking a much more metered approach with the Castro Art Walk.”

Ten local businesses will participate in September's art walk.

Part of that step-by-step approach was to host a “practice” art walk in August to gauge community interest and identify any issues. Six local businesses participated in the trial run, as did a number of perceptive passersby.

“The energy was really good,” Sticher said. “We thought it was aggressive to pull all of this together so soon, but we knew [the art walk] isn’t going to be everything we want it to be right out of the gate.”

Jason Mecier is a local artist who makes celebrity portraits. In his 25 years in the neighborhood, he's never seen a Castro art walk like the one planned for Thursday evening.

Image via Jason Mercier.

“It’s important to have events like this where people just see the art walking by on the sidewalk,” Mecier said.

He and his partner, Adam Ansell, will host a show called Grumpy Guncles at Spark Arts during the walk where more than 50 pieces of their work will be on display and for sale.

“We didn’t know what 'guncles' were until our nephew introduced as them,” Mecier said. “This collection of both of our art will be meaner and uglier pieces, both new and old stuff, that hasn’t been seen before.”

Jenn Meyer, the owner of Local Take, a business that's showcased local artists for the past five years, is also participating in Thursday's art walk.

“[We’re always] looking for new ways to serve our neighborhood and support as many artists as possible,” Meyer said via email, “so we jumped at the chance to participate in an art walk.”

For the art walk, Local Take will host a free event where chocolate from Michael’s Chocolates is paired with wines from Canela Bistro & Wine Bar.

Sabeen Minns, of Swirl On Castro, will also participate in the first Castro Art Walk. Since Minns took over the business last December, the wine shop has partnered with Spark Arts for a monthly art series to display pieces from local artists.

“What better way to enjoy art than with a glass of wine and great company,” Minns wrote us.

On Thursday, Swirl will offer a special flight called “The Art of Wine,” which will feature wines with beautifully-designed wine labels. The tasting will be priced at $15, and Minns will also have pieces from the "Grumpy Guncles" show on display.

As of press time, October’s walk will boast 13 local businesses. Future events may include live performances and drink specials, and may be themed to coincide with such things as Transgender Awareness Week and LGBT Pride Month.

“It’s a really positive project,” Piazza said, “and the Castro is the perfect neighborhood for it. We hope it grows."

“There’s no reason why it can’t go on indefinitely and continue to grow,” said Sticher. “If interested artists and businesses keep coming to us and it continues to be very grassroots, I don’t see a reason why it would stop.”

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