[Source: Megan Pantak, Arizona Republic]

Downtown Phoenix during First Fridays can be a little overwhelming, with hordes of people trying to get their monthly art fix in the span of four hours. So for people who want to enjoy their art and culture in a slightly more relaxed setting, there is Art Detour.  The once-a-year, all-weekend event lets visitors take a self-guided tour through the art galleries and studios in central Phoenix.

Sloane Burwell, president of Artlink, the group behind First Fridays, said Art Detour is a great time to take in the downtown culture and to visit galleries that aren’t normally open during First Fridays. “There aren’t really a lot of places for people to just walk around, but Art Detour is a solution to that,” Sloane said. “There are so few times that an artist will open up their studio space, and this is a great opportunity for people to interact with the artists and see things they can’t normally see.”

Kyle Jordre, owner of Jordre Studio, said Art Detour is particularly important for artists who don’t have an open gallery and who can’t show their work to the public regularly.

“My place is a working studio and is always covered in paint and tarps,” Jordre said. “During Art Detour, I clear out the space and make it gallery-ready and presentable. I don’t expect to sell. I expect people to come in and talk and see what’s happening. It’s vital for something like Art Detour to be maintained.”  Art Detour will also feature a Kid’s Detour, with G-rated events, galleries and hands-on activities for kids. Burwell said the event is important for art education in the community, especially with recent budget cuts to art and music programs in public schools.  “There’s a decent chance that if you’re a student, you could grow up never taking an art class,” Sloane said. “It’s important to see what art has to offer.”

Jordre said that aside from education, Art Detour is great for social interaction.  “It’s a great way to communicate with different types of people,” Jordre said. “You can meet up with friends, do a little bar hopping and see some great art.”

The Journal has more on this, and many other events on our Calendar Page.