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Six Things You Need for an Art Walk

Six must-have items to help make the most of attending an art walk or art crawl.

By Kaitlyn Chow on July 22, 2014

Art walks enable artists to show their work to a larger audience while making art easily accessible to the community.
Staff Photo

An art walk can be a mysterious and magical thing, starting with what to bring if you’ve never attended one. We’ve put together a list of six things you need to make the most of your art crawl or art walk experience below, considering that should be the least of your concerns when there’s so much to see, learn and connect with during one of these events.

Making art accessible to more people is one of many reasons art walks and art crawls have grown more popular in recent years. For art lovers and art students, an art walk can educate, facilitate new connections, and foster new relationships and opportunities. For the artists themselves, it is not just about showcasing recent work, but also building community and mutual artist support.

One of the oldest and most recognized art crawls in the country happens every year in St. Paul, Minn., the Saint Paul Art Crawl, an event founded in 1977 when a group of artists sought to transform old warehouses into creative spaces. Since then, the event has grown into a semi-annual, three-day event with more than 300 artists participating throughout 17 buildings and drawing about 20,000 people into the Lowertown and downtown neighborhoods primarily, as well as a few others that began participating in the past decade. It’s become a model for other art crawls and art walks throughout the country, and if you are attending one, here’s what you should bring with you:

6 Must-Haves for an Art Walk or Art Crawl

Cash: While many artists who sell their art or crafts are now coming equipped with mobile transactions apps like Square, be sure to bring cash just in case. As an extra measure, carrying a handful of smaller bills will help to make more accurate change. 

Map: You need to determine three things before going, and a map can help (even at the smallest art walks). These things are where to park, walk and where to find specific exhibits. Most art crawls will have a website with a gallery map, which you can download to get a sense of how the exhibits are laid out. Many art walks or art crawls will be located in the downtown area, so be aware of district street parking laws for weekends and weekdays.

Comfortable Clothes: Art crawls usually involve a lot of walking. Be sure to check the weather before heading outdoors, and wear appropriate clothing. Some galleries may be sheltered indoors, but oftentimes you have to walk outside, so bring a safety sweater during warm weather, a poncho if rain clouds are looming, and always pack comfortable shoes. 

Notepad: Whether you prefer a smartphone app for taking notes or you need to invest in a $1 notepad, you need some way to keep track of favorite artists and specific works for future reference or purchase. Some great note-taking apps for your smartphone are Evernote, SomNote and SuperNote, but be prepared to collect business cards, too.

Water & Snacks: If you’re art crawling in the heat of summer and want to bring snacks, prepare your beverages in sealable containers that can easily be tucked away and free of spills. Some art walks involve concession stands and food trucks, too (see that first item about bringing along cash).

Your Wits: An art walk can be sensory overload, making it easy to forget typical behaviors in busy public places, such as keeping up with your personal items and being mindful of other people in attendance. Be respectful of the artists’ work, as most displays are “please do not touch,”  a request you should also ensure your children obey.

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