A Walk To Remember

Owner, Maureen Newton, Inspire Cafe and studio gallery.September 24, 2021

Local café and art studio owner Maureen Newton experienced art walks when she lived in big cities like Vancouver and Kingston. When she opened her art studio, Inspire Studio Gallery, in Medicine Hat, Newton took surprise to the high caliber art scene in the city and organized its first downtown art walk in 2009.

Over 12 years, the September Art Walk grew from an annual event to a seasonal one, and eventually the workload became too much for Newton. The Esplanade Arts and Heritage Centre, after being involved in the art walk for 11 years, took on the responsibility to continue to grow the city-wide favoured event that residents and travelers look forward to.

“It’s a space for the community to come together and celebrate local art and artists inside locally owned businesses,” says Newton. “We’ve had up to 500 people attend the event and circulate between businesses throughout the evening in the past. I once had someone say to me that it reminded them of New York.”

Cultural Programmer at The Esplanade Candace Lundrigan has helped plan the event with the team at The Esplanade in recent years and says the art walk invites people to enjoy the revitalization of Medicine Hat’s downtown where they can appreciate the mix of new and longstanding businesses in the area.

“Medicine Hat has a vibrant arts and culture scene and unique locally owned businesses. This event combines and amplifies both those characteristics that people in and outside of our city can embrace,” says Lundrigan.

She says the event invites all businesses and organizations in the area to open their doors and showcase local artists to help bring a larger experience for attendee’s.

“The more businesses that are involved, the more attendee’s, and the bigger this event will become. It will encourage people to come downtown more, because there is so much to offer here,” says Lundrigan. “Art Walk is an open and welcoming event that brings that sense of community. It adds to the vibrancy and character of our downtown, and you feel connected.”

The Clay Trade and Framing and Art Centre owners Jan and Bruce Dynes host local artwork in their store and have participated in the event from the beginning. Jan says the art walk invites people who wouldn’t normally go downtown to experience the wide array of businesses, including theirs.

“These types of events are available in bigger cities and they enhance someone’s quality of life and experience,” says Jan. “We have a nice balance of different interests and hobbies in Medicine Hat, and this art walk continues to round out the experiences someone’s looking for when they want to move to a new community.”

All three participants of the art walk say they look forward to how Towne Square will add to the overall Art Walk experience, since the space will be designed for markets.

“People often travel to other cities to experience culture. I think it’s great that this event has turned into an experience people travel for and look forward to in Medicine Hat. It really has turned into a life of its own,” says Newton.