Keep those walking shoes handy

First Thursdays to offer tours of Durango galleries

Cynthia De Bolt’s “Field At Dusk,” “On A Spring Day,” “River Solitude” and “Hillside In May” hang in Sorrel Sky Gallery, where she’ll be the featured artist for the First Thursday Art Walk. Enlarge photo

ISAIAH BRANCH-BOYLE/Durango Herald

Cynthia De Bolt’s “Field At Dusk,” “On A Spring Day,” “River Solitude” and “Hillside In May” hang in Sorrel Sky Gallery, where she’ll be the featured artist for the First Thursday Art Walk.

Art lovers seeking an interactive experience need wait no longer, with this week’s debut of Durango’s First Thursday Arts Walk.

Based on the popularity of semi-annual local gallery walks, the Durango Gallery Association and Durango Arts Center found inspiration in art walks from other cities and created this monthly event series.

On the first Thursday, select galleries and venues sharing art will stay open late into the evening and offer activities and artist meet-and-greets.

Durango’s past gallery walks have exposed the community to new artists and created a social setting in which attendees may visit with the creatives, imbibe wine and nibble goodies and wander among friends through welcoming Historic Downtown.

But the First Thursdays program is all about involvement. If you hanker to do more than admire the work of your favorite artists, First Thursday Arts Walks want to catapult you into your own creative process.

Activities take center stage and artists answer questions and/or demonstrate techniques to community members and then allow them to try, using materials and tools readily available.

Browsing Thursday’s events, “Hand in Handmade” at Earthen Vessel Gallery promises an evening of inspiration and experience. Local Textile Artist Sandra Cushman will present her screen printed designs on fabric and then open the floor for visitors to try their own “Hand” at the process.

This ability to “try on” an art form that strikes one’s fancy, and moments after that, is a rare gift made available without the price tag of investing in equipment. Art walkers can abandon themselves in the thrill of creating when the inspiration strikes, not hours after, without guidance.

An exciting feature of First Thursdays is the participant list. Some of Durango’s finest galleries lead the lineup, including Durango Arts Center, Earthen Vessel Gallery, Toh-Atin, Gallery 530, Sorrel Sky and Wildshots. Eno, Rochester Hotel, Steaming Bean and Steve Gates Architect will also offer art along with their usual foodie lures.

In particular, Eno (which was selected for Best Cocktail in the latest edition of Edible Magazine) has a blossoming list of infused vodkas and promises drinks dreamed up specifically for opening night. Adorning the walls of Eno are the vibrant paintings of Bradley Kachnowicz.

Toh-Atin Gallery owner Jackson Clark will give a presentation on the culture, history and technique of Hopi baskets at 5:30 p.m.

The baskets are unique among Native American baskets as they were never woven to be used, but rather were made to give away as an expression of appreciation and thanks.

Another highlight of this Thursday’s Art Walk will be the artist reception at Sorrel Sky Gallery for popular reductionist painter Cynthia DeBolt.

Known for paintings that evoke an ethereal sense of peace, DeBolt will be present for questions and, in keeping with the First Thursdays mission, will discuss her new work. Be sure to stop by to interact with the art and artist.

With galleries staying open late and drawing crowds into historic downtown, local businesses can only benefit. Art for Art’s sake? Try Art for Business’, Artists’ and the people’s sake.

First Thursday Arts Walks are planned for the community, by the community and are the latest and best representation of Durango’s care for its own.

The Arts Walks will run monthly until April 4, 2013. The 10 events are sponsored by New Face Productions, TOP and the Business Improvement District.

Chelsea Terris is a freelance writer and social-media specialist. Reach her at chelseaterrisrose@hotmail.com.