Today marks the start of an exciting week in downtown Fort Myers, as River District art galleries, boutiques, restaurants and bars put the finishing touches on preparations for Friday night’s Art Walk and next Monday’s July 4th Freedom Fest block party and fireworks display. If you’re not in the River District this weekend, then you’re definitely missing out.
Festivities for the patriotic weekend kick off with Art Walk, a rain or shine event where thousands of art lovers stroll along Broadway, Dean, First, Hendry and Jackson streets taking in new art exhibitions, art demonstrations and meet-the-artist receptions in the thirteen art galleries that are concentrated in those five short blocks.
In anticipation of each month’s Art Walk, the River District art galleries locate, curate and exhibit exciting new artists and the latest in contemporary to avant-garde oils, acrylics, watercolors, mixed media, collage, sculpture, art jewelry and fine crafts. All the galleries host receptions for their featured artists, and many arrange for demonstrations of everything and anything artful. But on Friday the main action will be in the Franklin Shops where Art Walkers will be given the opportunity to paint the name of someone who lost their life in the Twin Towers during 9/11 on a giant canvas which internationally-acclaimed artist Leoma Lovegrove is turning into a commemorative tribute to the victims and first responders ten years after. This is sure to be an emotional and deeply patriotic experience and is worth the trip to the River District by itself.
But Lovegrove’s 9/11 tribute is just one happening among a night of many. Besides Lovegrove Gallery in the Franklin Shops, events are planned in all of the other art stops, which include the Art League of Fort Myers on Monroe, Art of the Olympians in the City Pier Building at the end of Hendry Street, Arts for ACT Gallery, Coloring the World on Dean Street, daas Gallery, Enjewel, Green-n-Groovy Gallery & Eco-Boutique, HOWL Gallery/Tattoo, In One Instant Gallery of Photography, Mad Hatter Galleries in the Franklin Shops at First, Space 39, Syzygy Gallery, and the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center, which is known for its neoclassical revival architecture, graceful Ionic columns, and the Jim Sanborn light sculpture, Caloosahatchee Manuscripts, which bathes the building’s façade, limestone steps and surrounding sidewalks in lighted letters to the delight of the Art Walk crowd.
Before, during and after Art Walk, the River District restaurants cater to the throng of hungry and thirsty art lovers. Morgan House Restaurant, French Connection Cafe’, Twisted Vine Bistro (formerly H2) United Cafe’, Bar and Bistro (formerly Cafe’ Matisse), Veranda, Ichiban Chinese & Japanese Cuisine, Downtown House of Pizza, What’s Up Dogs, The Oasis Restaurant, Starbucks Coffee, Hideaway Sports Bar, Red Rock Saloon, Spirits of Bacchus and The Cigar Bar all welcome Art Walkers with special menu items and convivial service. Spirits of Bacchus is also the scene of the Art Walk After Party, which begins at 10 and continues late into the night.
Art Walk gets under way at 6, with the galleries and boutiques staying open until 10 p.m. Come down. Bring some friends. And be prepared for an evening you won’t soon forget.