In 2015, U.S. expat Cara Venn, who had spent five years in India before moving to Cuenca, organized the first Cuenca Art Walk. The event was a free self-guided tour of selected El Centro galleries and businesses where art lovers were able to view the work of artists. Although many cities in the States have had “art walks” for years, it was a first for Cuenca.
Art Walk was designed to give artists from the Ecuadorian and the expat communities an opportunity to exhibit their work to the general public. It also allowed members of the general public to get to know the artists. In 2015, more than 60 artists exhibited in approximately 40 locations in the historic district.
Because of the success of the first Art Walk, Cara has organized another for 2016. This year, because of feedback from last year’s event, Art Walk 2 is being expanded to two days, October 1 and 2, and will include an opening reception on September 30, where each artist will be exhibiting one piece of artwork. Also, while the original Art Walk focused on artists who created only visual media, Art Walk 2 will feature artists from a myriad of creative disciplines beyond visual art, such as dance, theater, improvisation, and music.
A catalog, written in both Spanish and English, includes a detailed map of all Art Walk locations and is available to all individuals who want to participate. The catalogs will be available at the Opening Reception and at designated locations, including iTur, before and during the weekend event. The catalogs will also be available at participating venues, including galleries, artist studios, cafes and restaurants.
Art Walk 2 is designed to enhance the visibility of the arts and artists in Cuenca and to build bridges between the Ecuadorian and extranjero communities. It is also intended to attract tourists to Cuenca from other parts of Ecuador and other countries, and provide a walking cultural experience in the historical district..
For the community of artists in Cuenca, it is designed to help develop and increase collaboration among the various forms of artistic expression, including music, visual art, dance, performing arts, and theater. Art Walk 2 will include the museums and cultural centers located in El Centro.
Fun night on June 16
Cara self-funded the original Art Walk last year. She and Tamara Villarroel, a philosophy professor from Chile who moved to Cuenca to help with the Art Walk, are the entire staff working on organizing the project.
Art Walk 2 is an expanded version of the original Art Walk. As such, Cara has realized that additional funding is necessary to make the project a success..
Instead of planning a “fund raising event,” Cara has planned a “fun raising event!” She wanted to have an event that people would enjoy instead of one people felt obligated to attend.
With the cooperation of several restaurants near San Sebastian Plaza, Cara has planned a fun evening for June 16. San Sebas Café, Casa Azul, and, Jodoco Belgian Brew have joined in the effort to raise funds for Art Walk 2.
With a donation of only $10, patrons will receive a complimentary drink and appetizers. There will be wine, cheese, beer, coffee, bocaditos, fun, camaraderie, silent auction, raffle, fixed-price items for sale, and entertainment during the evening. All proceeds go to supporting the arts.
All money raised during the evening’s benefit will fund Art Walk 2 and the purchase of art materials and books for children from coastal areas devastated by the earthquake. These materials will permit specialists in art therapy to help the affected children deal with the trauma they have faced.
The first Art Walk in Cuenca was successful because of the organizing efforts of Cara and the efforts of the many volunteers who worked on the project. Cara wants everyone to know that there is a need for even more volunteers to work on Art Walk 2. She is actively seeking individuals who want to help make sure Art Walk 2 is a success this year. Cara made a point of saying that an individual doesn’t need to be involved as an artist to help. Anyone, whether involved in the art world or not, can use their talents and skills to organize the event, help raise funds for the event, market the event, and assist those participating in the event.
For more information and to volunteer, e-mail Cara Venn at CuencaArtWalk@gmail.com.
And, of course, save the dates! June 16 to have fun at the fund raiser, September 30 for the Opening Reception, and October 1 and 2 for Art Walk 2 in Cuenca!