The concept of the arts as an economic defibrillator is not a new one. In the fall of 2008, the economy was in a state of cardiac arrest and the Merchants onÂ Divisadero Street needed some fast resuscitation. Thus was born theÂ Divisadero Art Walk. What started as a group of a few dedicated merchants who really wanted to bring the local folks out to Divisadero past sundown has blossomed into a thriving, highly anticipated neighborhood event.
In the past year, I have worked with the merchants to grow this event from 15 participating businesses to almost 40!Â Every first Thursday quarterly, I have watched the streets fill up with people from every walk of life, striking up conversations with neighbors they have never had the chance to talk to before, and checking out businesses that they have never set foot in. Art has a funny way of pushing people to interact, whether you might love or hate a painting is sometimes the best catalyst for conversation.
On Divisadero, some of our merchants do not have art up, but run fantastically cheap dining, drinking and shopping specials, which makes for a great way to pop in and out of lots of places, without feeling obligated to empty your wallet to do so. The whole idea was to bring people out at night, and art seemed liked a natural binder to unify a moonlit event.
I love the fact that our merchants report back that it is a financially one of their best nights. What I love more is hearing the stories of neighbors discovering a local business that they will come back to time and time again and the sense of community that permeates the air on Art Walk night.
Sometimes the small things that connect us as a community slip by in the day to day of commuting, family life, and work. We walk fast to get to work, rush home to get dinner on, and we do not take the time to smile and nod at the people that we pass everyday. Divisaderoâ€™s Art Walk pushes us all as neighbors to pause for a moment and reflect on something beautiful, in both the paintings that decorate the walls, and the people that may live next door that we might have never found the right moment to strike up some witty banter with.
Whether you are a dedicated art fan, or just curious about all those businesses on Divisadero, March 4 will be a great night to get out of your house, DVR your standard diet of television programming, and hit the streets. I will see you there!