Don’t look now, but Williams is becoming a destination for art. On second thought, go ahead and look. There are numerous galleries in which to browse and an opportunity to spend the evening exploring them at the city’s monthly ArtWalk on historic Route 66.
“We took a cue from Flagstaff, Jerome and Sedona,” said Kris Williams, one of the owners of The Gallery In Williams, which founded the ArtWalk a little more than a year ago.
“This is our second season,” she said. “The walk takes place mostly on Route 66 or just off Route 66. We do it May through October.”
The next ArtWalk will be between 6 and 9 p.m. on Sept. 14.
“It’s been great,” Williams said. “We have a great party at the gallery. “We have free food and free wine. We have live music and live art demonstrations by a working artist.”
She said the ArtWalks have gone a long way to make people aware that Williams is a destination for art. “The idea is to get people walking around in the evening in a small town with the small town atmosphere and the fun that is available in Williams during the summer.”
Williams says she has seen an increase in business and foot traffic during the walks.
“We have maps that are hot pink with a green logo. We see lots of people walking around town with them in their hands. We know they have visited at least one venue.”
The ArtWalks also seem to be beneficial for all the nearby businesses. “I do think it has a positive effect and [gives people] the opportunity to experience our local artists – and we have many of them,” said Williams Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jioia Goodrum. “It still gives people the opportunity to shop at other stores whether they are on the ArtWalk or not.”
“One of the places is the Pine Country Restaurant. Their specialty is homemade pies. They also have local art on the walls to purchase,” Williams said.
The management at Pine Country reports a spike in pie sales during the monthly event.
The Grand Canyon Winery also opens it doors to ArtWalk browsers.
“A rising tide lifts all boats,” said Mike Frankel, executive director of the Artists’ Coalition of Williams. “I believe it has helped with local and tourist traffic. I believe that all the businesses downtown stay open a little later and benefit from people coming downtown who go to the galleries and say, ‘Wow! Let’s go to dinner!’”
Other businesses in the area are jumping on the art bandwagon and more galleries are opening up. “We have about 10 venues that participate,” Williams said. “The art scene in Williams is growing and very vibrant and there is a lot of interest in art in Williams right now.” FNB
Bearizona and the Red Raven Restaurant are major sponsors. To learn more about the Art Walk, call Williams at 928-635-3006 or visit the website at www.thegalleryinwilliams.com.