Art for sale! Art Walk takes over Whyte Avenue this weekend

I need another piece of art like I need a hole in the head – so why am I still looking forward to spending some serious sidewalk time at the Whyte Avenue Art Walk? I’m addicted.

The 16th edition of Edmonton’s largest art show and studio visit opens today (Friday, July 15) in Old Strathcona and runs through Sunday.

If you’re an art appreciator, studio visits are where you get to meet the artists – in the raw, with nothing between you and them and their work. Studios are where you get to see the newest pieces, the works-in-progress, and ask the questions: what IS it with these (flowers, crazy swirls, naked women, naked men, naked trees, fill in the blank)?

The numbers are crazy. There are something like 400 visual artists pouring their souls and their work out onto the sidewalks of Old Strathcona this weekend.

According to Kim Fjordbotten of the Paint Spot (where it all began and which still makes it all happen), artists pretty much just show up for the call-for-entries. This year there will be 1.3 km of painting, sculpture, drawings, mosaics and all manner of media in between.

The Art Walk and the Fringe festival share more than just location. There are no “auditions,” no jury, no cherry-picking here – just the blood, sweat and paint from all the artists who are trying to make it happen. Many are from Edmonton, but the event draws artists from Saskatchewan, Calgary and even Nunavut. All of them are hoping to sell their work, build a client list or get “discovered.” Some original pieces go for as little as $50, while others – like from renowned area painters Ian Sheldon and Phil Alain, who have been displaying their work at the Art Walk since year one – can sell for several thousand dollars.

If you’re tired of staring at four blank walls, Old Strathcona definitely has something for you this weekend.

As for me, I already have about 100 pieces and counting, far too many stored or unframed, and I still brought home a small sculpture a couple of years ago. Even though I’ll be keen for new work at the Art Walk, I’ll probably be chanting my little mantra, “Catch, and release … catch and release.”

(Stuart Adams is an artist, art curator and art reviewer who was worked for CBC Radio, Latitude 53 and the Works Arts and Design Festival, among others.)