Art Walk Gardiner is back for the first time since 2019

Karen Adrien inks Wednesdays at Circling the Square Fine Art Press in Gardiner. The owner and director have been preparing the Water Street location for the first community art walk since 2019, which will begin at 5pm on Friday. Dozens of businesses will host artists, while several studios will be open to the public during the Water Street Tour. Adrienne, who helped start ArtWalk Gardiner more than 15 years ago, said the enthusiasm of both merchants and artists is palpable. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

GARDINER — Local artists and businesses will be highlighted again for the first time since 2019 as ArtWalk Gardiner returns Friday from 5 to 8:30 p.m.

More than 30 artists and 15 companies are expected to participate. The event’s founder and chief organizer, Karen Adrien, said over time the art walk has evolved to include local businesses.

“We still basically invite the public into artist studios,” she said, “and what’s unique is that we invite artists who don’t have studios downtown and create business for them. It’s a collaborative way for our artists and shops in town to connect together for a community event.”

Adrienne is a local artist who works as the owner and director of Artdogs Studios and Circling the Square Fine Art Press. She was also a professor of art at the University of Maine at Augusta for 30 years.

She has owned a building in downtown Gardiner since 2004, and in 2005 she and other local artists began organizing annual art walks.

Except for a hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic, the event has been going strong for nearly two decades.

Adrienne said it felt “great” to be back for the first time since 2019.

“It’s such a wonderful community event,” she said. “It also speaks to the need for artists in communities and what they offer to the community, and connects artists in the community. All sorts of important things, especially for a small town like Gardiner.

She said the art walk plays an important role in helping local artists connect and gain exposure.

In all, Adrienne said it takes about three to four months to plan the art walk, a process that includes the help of event coordinator Danae Lagoy and a six-member advisory committee.

“We’ve done it in the past with all volunteers and it always fails, so hiring an event coordinator was a great idea,” she said.

Lagoi, who is also a local artist, said this was her first time working as an event coordinator and that it was an exciting opportunity. Much of her work involves talking to local businesses and connecting them with artists.

“The artists will work inside the business and I try to organize a good flow of that,” Lagoy said, “and then I do advertising and PR, so a lot of different things. And I’ll be a featured artist, so I’m excited to show my studio to the world.”

Both Adrienne and Lagoi said there has been a lot of positive feedback from the community leading up to the event.

“People are really excited,” Lagoi said. “I think there’s a lot of energy around the event. Also, there’s been a lot of new businesses and new people in Gardiner since the pandemic happened, so I think it’s going to be a really great way to foster that creative environment, introduce people to each other, and get artists and businesses to collaborate with each other you are “

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