Art Walks: Where Art, Connection, and Community Health Converge.  …and Five Reasons Why You Should Attend!

Art Walks: Where Art, Connection, and Community Health Converge. …and Five Reasons Why You Should Attend!

I write this blog post in anticipation of our local Final Friday Frolics event happening this evening.  The last Friday of each month, all summer long, our local creative community opens their doors to welcome visitors and neighbors alike into their studios and galleries. There are live demonstrations, interaction events, and numerous exhibition openings. Our local event is hosted by The North Fork Valley Creative Coalition, but all around the world, art organizations, gallery-owners, and artists are hosting similar events in their local communities.  Sometimes it’s across an entire town, sometimes it’s just a neighborhood… Either way I encourage you to get out there and participate!  Checkout the art, introduce yourself to the artists and gallery owners (even if you’re not an artist), drink the (often) free drinks, munch the snacks, and rub elbows with your community!  And when you find yourself someplace far away and there’s an art walk happening.. Go! Here’s why:

#1. Art Walks Generate Creative Inspiration

Maybe you’re not an artist, maybe you work a desk job? Regardless, I’m confident a bit of creative inspiration will do you well.  Don’t try to figure out beforehand what you need the inspiration for or you’ll miss the point.  Inspiration is like a lightning bolt, you never know when it’s going to strike. 

Become an artist. Remodel your kitchen, build a standing desk, change your wardrobe.

Maybe an exhibition you discover will inspire you to quit your job, spend $1000s on art supplies, and dedicate the next five years of your life to mastering an obscure style of chiaroscuro… or maybe not.  Maybe you’ll simply find the color palette for the kitchen remodel you’ve been procrastinating (geez, that sounds familiar) while perusing bowls at the pottery studio, or perhaps an artist’s studio-easel setup will inspire you to build a standup desk (actually I’m hoping you already have one, even if its from Ikea).. Maybe it’s an outfit you notice that you’re inspired to emulate for next week’s date night (if you haven’t planned that yet, do that now… gotta keep things interesting right?).  The point is, there’s more fodder for creative inspiration out in the world than there is in your living room (put your phone down dammit, unless of course that’s how you’re reading this), and during an Art Walk that fodder grows exponentially (think: more color, more people, more art).  So go out there and get some (creative inspiration).

San Jose Del Cabo Art Walk

Enjoying San Jose Del Cabo’s Art Walk last October with Josh


#2. Art Walks Are A Practice In Mindfulness

The world’s gone full-tilt.  Life flashes by: eat, sleep, rave work, repeat. Surely I’m not the only one that feels a bit taxed by the incessant march towards faster, bigger, better… Taking a moment to slow down and become aware of one’s surroundings can do wonders for one’s mental well-being.  Walk slowly, take time to absorb the art, savor the flavor of the salted almonds, and notice the person standing next to you.  Recognize that you may at times be in a slightly crowded space surrounded by very expensive works of art, so pay attention.!  Please, don’t pull a “Josh” and step backwards into a ridiculously precarious stack of hand-carved ceramic shot glasses and glass skulls stacked five feet high in the middle of a high traffic Mexican tchotchke shop when you should be in a nice gallery calming sipping Mezcal.  Back to my point: 

In a fast-paced world, art walks provide a chance to slow down and engage in mindful observation.

Turn your phone off, leave your watch at home. Linger with the pieces or people that speak to you, skip the galleries that don’t resonate. Let yourself wander without any direction other than the pursuit of sights and sounds that pique your interest.  If you’re even mildly curious about what makes artists tick and you could use a brief respite from the rigors of our modern digital existence, an art walk is a brilliant place to unwind. Be present. Notice the details.


#3. Art Walks are a Nexus for Networking and Connection

As an artist, I love being exposed to a wide variety of mediums, styles, and exhibitions all at once.  The diversity of artistic expression within a single city block boggles, and getting to take it all in, within a single evening, can almost overwhelm, but the little bubbles of remembrance that resurface through the following days as I flashback on the colors, shapes, or textures of specific artworks, feed my creative soul in a way that’s subtly subconscious.  Here’s the thing: most art walks are a monthly (or even weekly occurrence), and all (most) of the art’s going to be on display for the rest of the month if I want to see it alone, in peace and quiet.  So why go when there may be a crowd?  Because the people complete the experience.  Art is about ideas and exchange, and sharing, and reactions, and without people to engage with, the art might miss its mark.  It’s the art, but it’s also the artists, and the viewers.  It’s like the Heisenberg Effect and The Law of Quantum Observation combined (but with art… or something). 

Art walks bring people together, fostering connection, conversations, and community cohesion.

The guy I see driving around town in a beat-up pickup? Turns out he’s an incredible artist who paints massively complex works that truly astound and belong in an upscale gallery.  Now I know.  Now I can put a face to a name and restructure my assumptions.  The warehouse on the corner covered in graffiti?  Turns out to be a crisply clean vaulted space inside, full of welded sculptural masterpieces, equally at home in an Aspen mansion or in a dust storm deep playa.  And the sculptor... well we’re moving towards a first-name basis. Not quite, but almost.  Now he knows me, and I know him.  Someday I’ll buy one of his sculptures. The new(ish) bookstore and the owner I’ve never met?  Well now we’ve met (okay, you caught me, I’m writing the second half of this blog post, post Friday Frolic).  She showed me one of her favorite books on colors and their origins, and then sold me the “grab the window display, it’s the last copy” of Creative Space: Artists of the North Fork Valley that had caught my eye in the first place as we walked past (and with the locals discount, thank you).  And guess what?  I’m in the book!  Out onto the street and who do we run into?  Bodhi Gilroy, the author himself, which means I now have a signed copy.  Next door, into a live poetry reading by a dear friend to commemorate the opening of her first solo show (it was a stunner, Nicole!) and we're surrounded by even more wonderfully creative people. I could go on… Yes I get it, that was just a deep dive into personal anecdotes, but it speaks to my point: put yourself out there, interact, shoot the sh*t, express your views, make new friends.  You never know where a relationship might lead or a friendship might grow.  Want to meet creative people who think outside boxes, host killer dinner parties, dress sharp, and dive into deeply complex conversations with gusto? An art walk might be your best bet for a venue!

Creative Spaces Book


#4. Art Walks Enhance Your Personal Well-being.

I’m serious, for all sorts of reasons, art walks are good for your health.

Art walks can reduce stress.

I’ll dive into the science of stress and how art can help in a future blog post, but suffice to say, viewing art has been shown to reduce stress levels.  Add in the outdoor stroll along the (hopefully) well treed street and you’re getting the benefits of fresh air along with a microdose of shinrin-yoku.

Art walks can trigger emotional resonance. 

Ever felt completely alone, even in a crowd?  Like no one gets it… Art isn’t all peaches and cream and art walks aren’t all roses and buttercups.  Viewing, experiencing, and engaging with art can evoke a range of emotions and it can connect us even more deeply to our own feelings and experiences.  This emotional resonance can encourage catharsis and help us return to a more balanced mindset.

Art walks are walks, which means you’re getting exercise.

Sure your chronic cardio friends might scoff when you tell them you’re going for an (art) walk, but science continues to show that walking does all sorts of great things for our health.  It can reduce inflammation, boost immune function, reduce joint pain, reduce the risk of breast cancer, reduce sweet cravings (hmmm… maybe I need to walk more), and counteract weight gain.  It’s great for cardiovascular health, bone density, leg and abdominal muscles, and so much more. 

Art walks are multi-sensory experiences. Use it or lose it.

Touch, See, Hear, Taste, Smell.  On an art walk, it’s all there, and often all at once, but in a completely family-friendly dosage.  Getting all your senses together for a little joint workout, strengthens your neural pathways and likely improves your cognitive function.  Brain health for the win.  Now try to describe it all (or write a blog post about it).  Commence brain stretching. 


Modeling Nicole Ashley's Medicine Hats at her show opening during Final Friday Frolics.


#5. Art Walks Nurture Community Health

Community resilience is interaction dependent. 

It’s true, sometimes I only make it into town a couple times a week; I’ll resurface after a couple days of immersed creative flow and realize I haven’t been to town in awhile.  Knowing that community resilience requires interaction, I’m extra grateful for where we live and the countless number of community events that motivate me to venture off our mesa and engage: farmers markets, live concerts, potluck dinner parties, and of course our monthly art walk: Final Friday Frolics.  All of those connections and networks I mentioned above? Those relationships are the framework for community resilience.  I think of it as a giant illustration with dots representing individuals, and the lines between them representing relationships.  Maybe dotted lines represent acquaintances and solid lines represent friendships, and the width of each line represents the duration of the relationship’s lifespan?  To me community resilience looks like the densest, most entangled and intertwined spiderweb, like drawing a tangled ball of yarn with a wide-tipped Sharpie.  Sure, great, the more interconnected a community, the tighter the support net, but what makes art walks particularly great for community health?

Art walks are all inclusive. They are not age, gender, income, or occupation exclusive.  

Community health is about bridging divides and developing social cohesion.  Recognizing our commonality, our shared passions, curiosities and interests can help mend the rifts politicians and the media seem intent on exacerbating.  Making friends with 8 month olds, 8 year olds, and 80 year olds across all walks of life can help us broaden our perspectives and become more welcoming of differing viewpoints.  Art walks are a great place to find these friends, as young and old alike delight in the creative offerings.  Art brings people from diverse backgrounds together and can create a sense of belonging.  Color, shape, composition, emotions evoked, ideas inspired… Everyone has a valid viewpoint to contribute. 

Art walks encourage cultural diversity and acceptance.

Art often represents the cultural identity of a community.  Art walks provide a venue for a community to put its culture on display, while simultaneously demonstrating inclusivity for visiting artists and foreign styles.  Locally in our town the art on display often references our community’s agricultural heritage, love for nature, and appreciation for plants (and plant medicines), yet we gain diversity from the influence of Elsewhere (our local Art Residency) and the inputs of artists from around the country.  The art walks I’ve experienced around the world have exposed me to a diverse array of cultures, people, and ways of life.  They have introduced me to concepts, ideas, and global issues that would otherwise have missed my radar. This exposure has broadened my horizons, given me a greater global awareness, and heightened my cultural empathy.

Art walks add Joie de vivre to life and community.

Cultural events and public art add color to community life.  The enthusiasm generated by art walks encourages towns and local nonprofits to reinvest in the aesthetic of the local community:  trees are planted, murals are painted, and public sculptures are funded.  The early evening art walk brings in people who later fill restaurants and music venues.  The bustle of people on the streets entices curious people to get involved.  Laughter and conversations reverberate down the sidewalks.

Two ladies out for a stroll, enjoying the local art.
Sunflower Solidarity original mixed media oil painting by Elyssa Edgerly


So get out there!

Walk the walk, talk the (art) talk.  Attend an art walk: find creative inspiration in unexpected places, practice mindfulness amidst commotion, make new friends, support your own well-being, and help strengthen community cohesion. I’m confident you’ll find at least one thing that will make you grateful for participating.  On that note, I’d love to hear what you enjoy most about art walks!  Send me an email ( and let me know what you think!?


Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.