Stroll the Avenue

Art and Commerce Collide on Piedmont Art Walk


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     The Piedmont Art Walk is not another Art Murmur, where the sidewalks are packed and the crush of visitors jockeys to get through the doors.
    Erica Skone-Rees, the walk’s organizer and owner of Rare Bird (3883 Piedmont Ave., 510-653-2473, www.therarebird.com), says it’s not trying to be. “A big thing is just about creating an event people want to be at,” Skone-Rees says. “There’s a lot of galleries there, whereas here it’s a lot of different types of businesses. And so my goal was really to get everybody to stay open later and host a community event. To try to get camaraderie, not just among the merchants, but amongst the residents who live here. And, of course, to support local artists.”
    Rare Bird is the art walk’s social hub, with Skone-Rees presiding over a festive reception for two artists every month, something she’d done even before the walk’s inception. Other highlights are Rooz Café, featuring fine art and a DJ spinning actual vinyl; Lireille Gallery, a jewelry store that has long been a supporter of local artists; and Montano Velo, displaying cycling-oriented art from Japanese Keirin racing bikes to cycling photos.
    At other venues the focus is on the artistry of what the artists do. “When we say ‘art,’ it’s not just wall art,” Skone-Rees says. “It could be a designer. It could be a musician. We’re trying to expand the concept of what art is.” This may translate into Tessier Winery’s Pinot Noir at Wine on Piedmont, a primer on stitches at Sew Images or the art of movement at Capoeira Mandinga.
    Still in its first year, the Piedmont Art Walk is not growing as much as it is evolving, alternately expanding to be inclusive, then pulling back to improve the quality of its offerings. “We’re trying to get more businesses involved,” Skone-Rees says. “There’s 250 businesses on the avenue, and we only have 26 on this map. So this is just the beginning.”
    Don’t go to the Piedmont Art Walk expecting an extension of Art Murmur. But do go, nonetheless. You’ll even find a parking spot.
    The Piedmont Art Walk is held the third Thursday of every month from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.   

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