Artistry meets business in the North Monroe District for its inaugural Art Walk, a community wide collaboration event each second Saturday which hopes to invigorate life into the growing district.

People can walk into a restaurant on North Monroe Street and see to buy beautiful art pieces spanning from abstract cubism to watercolors to nature sceneries while also consuming delicious foods and beverages from the local restaurants in the area.

The event is the epitome of a symbiotic relationship.

Each business partners up with different artists each month to display artwork in their restaurants.

The artwork brightens up the space and draws customers to the businesses. Meanwhile, the artists in the community benefit by being able to showcase their work and offer people an opportunity to buy some of it. From the artist to the owner to the customer to even the community as a whole, the event is a win-win for everybody.

The event started last Saturday and was modeled off a similar event downtown called First Friday. With businesses and artists in the North Monroe community being hit hard by the pandemic, the event is meant to stimulate life and liveliness in a neighborhood center that has been dormant for many years now.

“If we can get people to start walking through here, it adds to the vitality of the area and makes it stand out from other districts, like Browne's Addition or West Central,” said GU alum Frank Burke, ’87, who owns The Monroe Room, a community event center.

For owner of the micro-brewery Bellwether Dave Musser, who has been featuring artwork in his brewery since its beginning six years ago, this event and partnerships help unite a community, bringing to the light the many artists in the Spokane community.

“We just celebrated six years and from the beginning we wanted to support the arts, and that was both in our brewing, with the people we partnered with and with the mural [outfront],” Musser said. “When we started there wasn't a ton of that in Spokane, and so we wanted to help grow that. I feel like the more [encouraging of art and partnerships that] happens, the better it is for our businesses, the better it is for our city.”

These feelings were affirmed by artist Emily Scott, who is grateful for the opportunity to show off her work in these non-normative settings. Scott specializes in landscape pieces utilizing texture and darker colors. Her work is featured currently in the Bellwether brewery.

“It's definitely different [from a gallery]," Scott said. "People are actually chilling and doing something else in the space besides just looking at art. It's cool to see it in different kinds of spaces too. Most galleries are typically very stark and white. So, it feels a lot more cozy and homey in here so I enjoyed that.”

The Bellwether brewery is truly a stand-out place decorated with tons of pumpkins, supplied by another partnership that Musser has made and of course the dark landscape artwork by Scott. Musser says that he feels that these partnerships bring character to the space. He also says that his customers like the space because of them.

“There's a day [each month] that we take down the art, so there's usually a few days before the next one goes up and the space just looks so cold,” Musser said. “But then the new art comes out, and I think people love it because it makes the space different every single month. It just feels different, so that's a lot of fun.”

While Bellwether has been doing this for the past six years, the Art Walk event has been a way of formalizing the practice and marketing people to come to the North Monroe District to look at art and engage with the community.

Other places along Monroe where businesses have formed partnerships with artists to display works for the event, include Elliots an Urban Kitchen, a fun dine-in option featuring abstract cubism by artist James Dhillon. The Monroe Room is featuring two artists in Burke's space: painters Brandy Seistrup and Clinton Barnes.

However, no matter where one goes in the North Monroe District, the community will always be at the center.

“I see myself as a supporter of a community and supporting the arts of this community is an aspect of supporting this community,” Burke said.

For the first event like this in the neighborhood, the Art Walk seemed to be successful even if it was slow for some spaces like the Monroe Room. New art will be displayed next month as businesses invite new artists to display their artwork.

Noah Apprill-Sokol is a staff writer.

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