Every wonderful thing that grows has growing pains, says Becky Guerra, one of the original founders of ArtWalk.
We started with six art locations and 200 visitors. Now we have 22 art-related businesses, all free of charge. We have reached more than 3,000 visitors, some nights.
The sixth year of this highly successful experiment renews on Friday, Sept. 4. It will continue monthly, every first Friday of each month through May from 6 to 10 p.m.
The six original creators of ArtWalk realize that times have changed. The city had to block off some streets, heavy with foot traffic, for one example. Some neighbors disliked a crowd, even if the event is held just nine times in a year.
Many Valley cities view ArtWalk with interest. A chartered bus of Brownsville leaders took notes considering art attractions of their own.
Those pioneers who organized this free art event in McAllen are:
Art House, Mayra Brown;
Espana, Isaac Guerra;
S. Klein Gallery, Stuart and Sylvia Klein;
Jac-Lins Florist, Jacque Hull;
Jesus Gonzalez, whose original venue was Casa Antigua but has since branched out with Niu Urban Living and the Arts District Business Center;
and Nuevo Santander Gallery, Becky and Che Guerra.
Becky and her husband have been among the leaders in encouraging other art-related businesses to tackle arts projects and inviting all, from early-bird winter visitors to visiting students, from first-graders to many older students, including college assignments.
True art-lovers of all ages attend often and sometimes even buy some art objects. The atmosphere is far more cosmopolitan than most cities much larger.
All the newcomers deserve their names and their businesses listed, which follow so readers can get an idea of their great diversity.
The newest location is in the Arts Village, across the street from Nuevo Santander Gallery. McAllen Stained Glass, the newcomer this month, is owned by Yoli Cantu, whose business is the first art-related business to be located on that corner.
The other venues are:
The Douglas Clark Studio, Douglas Clark;
Baeg Piano Academy, Becky Jo Baeg;
McAllen Memorial Library, Becky Bormann and Margaret Handrow;
Santa Anita Gallery, Ruth Casas and Raquel Hinojosa;
Horizon Montessori, Geneva Scott;
Los Cazadores Restaurant;
CME Credit Union;
Manichaus Modern Art Space, Omar Rodriguez;
The Spanish Room at the Casa de Palmas Hotel, Debi Maqueda;
UTA United Through Art Gallery and Art Expression Cultural Center, Monica Ramirez;
Springboards to Education, Johnny Lopez;
Room Clothing, Monica De Coss;
and Feldmans Market Center, Rick Ramos.