San Diego Artwalk 2006

If you ever needed proof that my hometown burg is stretching as exponentially as the backsides of America's youth, look no further than Artwalk.

What was once a sleepy little trek through the private studios and galleries of San Diego's artists has become a gargantuan street fair with a full array of hawking vendors, closed boulevards, whistling traffic cops and kinked-neck tourists.

Varmint and I missed last year's affair, as we were traveling. So this is the first time we'd seen the boulevards of Little Italy cordoned off for the multitude of pedestrian traffic and funnel cake booths.ArtWalk_IndiaStreet.jpg

Amidst the desperate cries for attention from the occasional dubious "art vendors" (that included real estate developers and behemoth beverage firms) were the real art vendors actually producing and selling *gasp* art. (You know - that stuff that looks really good above your sofa and you used to do in grade school before every creative child was left behind? Yeah, THAT stuff.)

Anyway. So here's where they all are: Artists making enough of a living that they are able to afford both booth rental and living expenses in one of the most expensive cities in the United States. I'm amazed that there were so many booths.

I did note that the old spirit of Artwalk had changed: The event was now centralized into the primary business district of Little Italy. Artwalk has morphed into more of a Laguna Beach Arts Festival-type affair, with outdoor galleries huddled in miniature circus tents. No longer were the shabby old studios of working artists featured points on the tour. 

I, for one, find that to be a bit of a downer. There was something voyeuristic and cool about walking through the actual workplace of an artist. I liked the paint ArtWalk_ShannMonte.jpgdroplets and metal shavings sprinkling the floors, the dried up coffee mugs forgotten on the shelf. I liked imagining an alternative life for myself as I meandered through their spaces. Picturing them at work with their music playing was a pleasure.

Still, there's no mistaking the fact that even corporate Artwalk is a fun day. Whatever its current shortcomings, the fact that a conservative, broke and fundamentally anti-art city like San Diego even has an event like this is nothing short of amazing.

We took the Trolley down to avoid the parking nightmare.

The Trolley trip was an event unto itself: Great people watching. I had flashbacks of riding the S-Bahn in Berlin - only here you get leather-skinned ladies inArtWalk_Trolley.jpg leopard print as opposed to bundled matrons porting home baguettes.

The San Diego train is more Willy Wonka than S-Bahn - it's so clean, perky and red. Added bonus? Not only is it way cheaper than parking downtown these days, you also don't have to sweat your blood alcohol level.

And in a few months, I have no doubt that the Varmint and I will be making good use of the Willy Wonka Wagon and toasting to grandparents who love to babysit.

* See full image set here.


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I am a writer and lazy artist who loves travel, architecture and design. Right now, I'm into photography. My fabulous husband (a.k.a. The Varmint) and I are also the principals of a San Diego-based creative agency - and new parents to the divine Baby Mak. Read More >