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Art Walk in downtown Gresham is back for the 10th year

by: file photo Artists exhibit their creations along streets in downtown Gresham during the Art Walk event, which is set for Saturday, July 16.

Beginning 10 years ago with just 28 artisans, the annual Gresham Art Walk has expanded to more than 150 in this year's show. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, July 16, these artisans will line the streets of historic downtown Gresham with everything from glassware to paintings to sculptures to recycled art.

The event also will feature entertainment, including a diverse array of live music along Main Avenue and a baby grand piano for attendees to play, a new feature this year.

For younger visitors, there will be a Children's Corner, 'Art in Motion,' from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with the Portland Children's Museum that will include face painting by Roger Witter, Mona Munawar Hoop Dance, balloon art by Justin James, chalk art and paper sculpture making.

'It's an event for a whole family,' Art Walk founder Judy Han said.

Also new this year are banners, painted by muralist Roger Witter, to celebrate the 10-year anniversary. Frontier Communications supported the effort by hanging the banners around the city, a cost of about $1,000.

Han, who has owned Sunny Han's Wok and Grill downtown for 19 years, said she started the event to create awareness about the businesses downtown.

'I was president of the business association 10 years ago, and I said we've got to do something to let people know we're here, to let people know that there are businesses downtown,' Han said. 'I've always considered downtown as the living room of Gresham. It's the center.'

Local artist Mike Hill, who has participated in the event since it began, said the Art Walk was good not only for business but for the arts. 'We needed an art event,' Hill said. 'There were no galleries, besides City Hall. Every other major city or minor city has galleries.'

Since its inception, the Art Walk has grown in both size and recognition, Han said, including strong support from the city of Gresham. Last year, 12,000 people attended the event. 'It's been embraced by the community,' Han said, adding that it has become the largest event in Gresham.

The 13-member Art Walk Committee, which is now a recognized nonprofit, relies on donations and volunteers to put on the $23,000 event. Han said she expects at least 40 volunteers on the day of the event.

The effort, Han said, has been worth it, bringing recognition to downtown businesses. 'For every business downtown, that will be the busiest day they have in their year,' she said.

With the event's success so far, Hill said he doesn't see it ending any time soon. 'I think it will be here for years to come,' he said, 'and it will only get bigger and better.'

If you go

What: 10th annual Art Walk

Where: Historic downtown Gresham

When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, July 16