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Gulfport’s First Friday Art Walk Returns to its Roots in October

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Artists and Public invited to take part in Metamorphosis: Art for Hope and Healing

Gulfport, FL – Gulfport’s First Friday Art Walk returns safely to Beach Boulevard on Friday, October 2 with a celebration of art and healing featuring some of the region’s most innovative artists in an outdoor and socially distanced setting safe for arts lovers of all ages. Hosted by the Gulfport Merchants Chamber, the event will showcase art across several mediums telling the story of the event’s overriding theme, Metamorphosis: Art for Hope and Healing. The event will run from 5-8 p.m.

First Friday Art Walk, like many public gatherings across the region, has been on hiatus since March, and artists and businesses alike are eager to engage this arts-loving community in a celebration of the creativity that often comes from adversity. Artists will present works of art that express the many changes and challenges that 2020 has presented to us all, as well as what they see as their own metamorphosis, whether personal or creatively.

Since its inception in 1993, First Friday Art Walk has been a signature event of the Gulfport Merchants Chamber and the town’s creative community. October’s event features a format redesign that both addresses safety considerations in a post-onset of COVID environment and brings First Friday Art Walk back to its origins as a showcase for the creative community. While returning as a quarterly event in October, Art Walk resumes its usual spot on the first Friday of each month beginning in January 2021.

Ceramic artist Brenda McMahon leads the arts committee of the Gulfport Merchants Chamber and is excited to showcase the diverse range of talent from throughout the region at the new art walk.

“The Gulfport arts community and the surrounding St. Pete community is filled with diverse artists expressing their views of the world,” says McMahon, whose namesake gallery will host artists outside during First Friday Art Walk.

“We’re eager for our new Art Walk to highlight those voices and add to the chorus of creativity in our region,” she continues. “This is how Gulfport put its name on the map originally and we expect to bring that caliber of conversation back to the streets.”

At each outdoor hub, artists will set up exhibits, each with social distancing and safety protocols in effect. The Gulfport Merchants Chamber of Commerce will provide masks and sanitizer at several locations throughout the event, and the GMC continues to work closely with Gulfport city officials to safely reintroduce Art Walk to the Tampa Bay community.

Gulfport’s Village Courtyard and other locations in Gulfport will feature live music, and many local businesses that aren’t traditionally open during Art Walks will participate in the event as well, including Stella’s Diner, owned by GMC President Barbara Banno.

“The GMC has designed a showcase event for both our business and creative communities to shine,” says Banno. “We’ve committed time and resources to creating a safe and enjoyable arts event for the entire family and can’t wait to welcome back visitors to our storefronts, restaurants and beaches. Stella’s will be serving a special Art Walk-themed drink for the evening and look forward to seeing how other businesses choose to participate.”

Businesses around town are participating in other ways as well, including sponsoring artists for the event or supporting the Chamber’s new membership level for artists and arts supporters called “Art Works Here’.

“Our agency plans on sponsoring artists for First Friday Art Walk,” says James Briggs, board member of the GMC and owner of Carroway + Rose, an agency that works with artists throughout Pinellas County. “Businesses in Gulfport know that the arts draw visitors to our town, so it’s sound business sense to invest in the people creating it. We look forward to working with our fellow businesses to create a safe, welcome and attractive First Friday Art Walk for artists from across the town and region’s creative landscape.”

The deadline to apply for entry into First Friday Art Walk is September 10. Artists are encouraged to include a brief statement about how 2020 has impacted either their personal or creative processes. To apply, please visit: http://visitgulfportflorida.com/first-friday-art-walk/.

For more information, visit the official social media channels of Gulfport’s First Friday Art Walk and the Gulfport Merchants Chamber of Commerce: facebook.com/visitgulfportfl and instagram.com/visitgulfportfl.

To learn more about Art Walk or other Gulfport Merchants Chamber events, please contact marketing@visitgulfportflorida.com.

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