"We've asked, over and over again, for information about how to participate," artist and Deus Ex Machina gallery co-owner Annie Lopez told me. "We've ended up having meetings by ourselves, with no Artlink representation present. I don't even know that any gallery on Grand Avenue has signed up, or what we would get for our money if we did." (In fact, the Grand Avenue Arts and Small Business District this week announced its own Art Detour map and directory of Grand Avenue participants, available here.)

What do galleries get for those hundred bones? "We have ads dropping all over the place," Burwell assured me. "We're doing a guerrilla marketing campaign, with signs, and lots of social media. We're tweeting our brains out."

Signage must cost something. But Twitter and other social media are free. So what's to keep galleries from doing their own Facebook campaign and throwing up their own signs this weekend?

Chuck Dragon by Iggy + The YMCA and Lincoln Family at Bragg's Pie Factory.
Sara Dalton
Chuck Dragon by Iggy + The YMCA and Lincoln Family at Bragg's Pie Factory.

"It's always been the case that some galleries have participated in an unofficial capacity," Burwell admits. "I'm not sure we can do anything about it. We're not a protection racket."

They're not much of anything these days, if you ask me. While the Tempe Festival of the Arts draws upwards of 250,000 people over a three-day weekend, and the Scottsdale Arts Festival averages 40,000 attendees at its annual weekend event, Art Detour's numbers are, in its 23rd year, declining. "We think we're doing great with 7,500 people," Burwell acknowledges. "We have to grow and change and kick it up a notch. I'd like to see Art Detour become a huge festival, with bands and performances and a whole big deal going on."

She means like it used to be.

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Pete Petrisko
Pete Petrisko

If Artlink is to survive as an organization, several options might have to be considered to restore public confidence, including:

Those in charge, and therefore responsible, when the "ship ran aground" rudderless despite the public warnings, should resign - effective immediately.

Refocusing & redefining its purpose to fit the needs of the community.

Stop talking to the mainstream press til it gets its shit together & and can communicate proactively.

That'd be a good start right there.

Kathy
Kathy

I'd add the suggestion that Artlink change its bylaws so that members of other established Art Organizations and or Stake-holder Organizations that have direct conflicts of interest are not allowed to be on the board of Artlink! They can be member, just not board members.

Kathy
Kathy

I meant to say change the bylaws to restrict 'Board' members of other Art Organizations and or 'Board' members of Stake Holder Organizations from being 'Board' members of Artlink.

CSC
CSC

Forgot to say, thanks Robrt for your articles which are often one of the few places to go anymore to get current gallery news around here!!!

CSC
CSC

I'm an artist and remember years ago there were more ways to find out about what was going on than there are now. You'd think things would've gotten better, not worse. I know some of this can be blamed on the economy but not all of it. My husband and I moved back to Phoenix after an absence of several years. We thought we might be returning to more of an art community than we'd had while living in the midwest for his job. But it's disappointing that there is really no really good place to go, to get info on galleries, events, etc. And what about someplace to find out about calls for entries for upcoming shows? I often find out about shows and events long after it's too late to have entered them, and sometimes even too late to make plans to attend them. In some ways I know I just haven't gotten back in my groove yet, but the more I read and hear about the arts community here, the more I'm convinced it's not just me being out of the loop...there just isn't much of a loop and that's sad.

Dain Quentin Gore
Dain Quentin Gore

This is only the first year in my recollection they haven't been distributing maps earlier, or buses at all. There used to be seasonal maps full of destinations but I haven't seen them lately.

But Grand and Roosevelt have been destinations for gallery openings every First Friday for years now.

Up and down Grand, and all along Roosevelt, you will see many places open 6-10pm during First Friday and all weekend both night (Friday) and day (Sat/Sun) this Detour.

But maps, info etc. or even visiting galleries won't matter if you don't make contacts with the gallerists and artists you are interested in working with. In addition, you could have all of that info and still not find a good fit for your work. The best test is, if they seem too busy for you, it's probably not a good fit.

The Trunk Space on Grand has been around since '04. They are very friendly and always open to showing new acts and artists. That may be a good place to start, as they do lots of group or themed shows, and are up for ideas. It helps to not want to jump in right away with a solo show as taking up all the walls is always a risk--all around-- first time out..

Calls for artists can be offered through contacts at SMoCA, Mesa Arts Center or the Phoenix Art Museum. The Burton Barr Library and Phoenix Arts Commission offers Calls quite often, as well.

There definitely is a loop. There are many many ways to get info but it's become more fragmented in a sense. Part of it is due to growing pains of the city: like/admit it or not, it's becoming a big city, and many can't agree on what to do next, not least of which is the city itself.

You have to get out there and make friends and ask them a lot of questions--especially to the owners. It's definitely a process. Third Fridays in Phoenix and First Thursdays in Scottsdale are good nights for that.

As for coverage, don't rely on the papers...after all, you read this online.

CSC
CSC

Dain,

Thanks for your reply and tips. "Fragmented" is an excellent word to describe arts info here!

Yup, I've been doing as you suggest, slowly getting back into it, meeting gallery owners and networking, and am happy to say things are falling into place as a result. Was in a show last year, and have several pieces in a gallery right now. Joined one of the local artists' guilds. I work in miniatures a lot so I could not really fill a gallery at this point on my own. My work is of a genre that doesn't fit a lot of galleries so I've been seeking out those that are, and will submit portfolios to them.

Seems like, for a reasonable subscription fee, (and/or paid advertisers), it'd be possible to publish a newsletter that really did a good job of condensing that kind of info. Of course, starting any business endeavor in this economy is a lot riskier and I'm sure that'd be the reason given for no one being willing or able to start something like that.

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SDRick
SDRick

The lack of organization from the Artlink people is just astounding. I have been to every ArtDetour for years, that is where I buy my art. I hate buying on First Friday and walking around with a big piece of art or walking around with enough cash to buy art, but with Art Detour I could see a piece and come back the next day to buy it. It is sad that Artlink has given up, for whatever reason, on promoting art downtown and given that power to the neighborhoods.

Connor
Connor

I completely agree with you. I look forward to Art Detour all year, but only through feverish Internet searches, being friends with the right people on Facebook and (formerly) Myspace, being on mailing lists, and reading the New Times do I find out about all the happenings around town. This is simply ridiculous. I'm so tired of reading Artlink's never-updated website, hoping for news or a map or ANYTHING! For what is billed as the biggest art event of the year, everything seems so haphazard. Roosevelt Row CDC and Grand Avenue Arts and Small Business District are doing great for their immediate areas, but what about the outliers? In the past, the Warehouse District and Uptown were where the unforgettable shows would always be found. Now, who's going to promote their existence?I'll be downtown again all day this Saturday for Detour, but blazing my own trail.And as a side note, 'tweeting and promoting like crazy?' Now that is a bold-faced lie if I've ever heard one. Artlink just put up a wordpress blog today, and has updated its Facebook and Twitter no more than a handful of times. In a world of endless opportunities for free promotion, this sort of lackluster effort is ridiculous.

 
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