October 14, 2013

Letters to the editor: Art Walk, a beloved tradition, turns 13

This month marks the First Friday Art Walk’s 13th birthday, and Oct. 4 was Portland’s 158th Art Walk.

A small crowd watches Rafael Alvarez, a Maine College of Art student, dance to his boom box outside the school during the First Friday Art Walk last Dec. 7. The monthly event draws as many as 3,000 people, a reader says.

2012 File Photo/Gabe Souza

In October 2000, the Art Walk was incubated by dozens of artists, organizations, businesses and community members who built it month by month, cultivating an ethos of inclusivity and free access.

The goal was to open the doors of Portland’s visual arts community to a wider audience, promoting the unique spirit of the city’s artists, galleries, cultural institutions and art-loving venues and strengthening the arts and our community through diversity and celebration.

What a success! Every month, more than 60 venues participate in the Art Walk, and as many as 3,000 people from Maine, New England and beyond experience the state’s largest monthly free cultural event.

Inspired by the popularity of the early Art Walks, the First Friday Art Walk has expanded well beyond the Arts District and blossomed organically to include a variety of artistic expression – street artists, artisans, fire jugglers, dancers, musicians and more.

A 2011 survey by Creative Portland and Americans for the Arts concluded that cultural events attendees in Portland spend an average of $30 in shops and restaurants, not including the ticket price. That means Art Walkers contribute close to $1 million to Portland’s economy each year.

More importantly, the First Friday Art Walk has become a beloved Portland tradition that truly reflects the independent, creative spirit of our art-inspired community – one that makes people from all over the world fall in love with Longfellow’s “City by the Sea,” and residents proud to call Portland our home.

Thanks to all the people who originated Portland’s Art Walk, and to everyone who supports, celebrates and participates in the arts in our community.

Alice Kornhauser

Board of directors, Creative Portland


McAuley loses with dignity, Marshwood wins with class

As the parent of a member of the Catherine McAuley High School field hockey team, I enjoyed your story Sept. 24 titled “Field hockey notebook: McAuley isn’t losing sight of long-term goal.”

My daughter Sophie first played as a freshman and is now a senior. The last two years have certainly been a struggle for those in high school sports who are in to win, win, win.

As a parent, it is hard to watch your daughter’s team fall behind in a game 1-0, then 2-0, then soon 5-0, then 8-0, etc., etc. When it gets to 10-0, that is what one fellow McAuley parent refers to as the “Groan Point.”

The great highlight of the season for me was at a recent game. McAuley traveled to Marshwood High School to play a very talented team.

Sure enough, Marshwood jumped out to a lead, and it got bigger. We all, on the sidelines, said, “Oh, boy, here we go again.”

Suddenly, the downpour stopped. It appeared clear the Marshwood coach told her players, “Let’s back off,” “Let’s practice passing,” etc.

The final margin of victory for them was convincing, though not humiliating for the teenage girls of McAuley.

As we walked away from the field, chatting with our daughters, a player from Marshwood sprinted by us and exclaimed, “Hey, you guys played great!”

A McAuley player looked at me as if to say, “Is she talking to us?” I said, “Yes, she is talking to you.”

The McAuley girl then looked at the Marshwood girl, running, now 50 feet away, and screamed, “Thanks!”

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