In an effort to move away from a strictly art-centered event, The Kirkland Gallery Association has decided to rename its monthly evening Art Walk to Kirkland Second Thursday.
With a nod to Seattle's First Thursday art walk, the Kirkland Second Thursday was born out of a partnership between the Kirkland Downtown Association and the Kirkland Gallery Association (KDA). The desired end result will be a city-wide effort for retailers and restaurants to stay open later.
"I see it as a healthy change," said art veteran Gunnar Nordstrom and vice president of the gallery association. "The whole idea of creating Kirkland Second Thursday is that it's all encompassing. It creates a fun event that's not just art-oriented."
Nordstrom said the gallery association would like the concept to include the galleries, boutiques and restaurants, along with live music. "The galleries can't do it ourselves," he added.
Parklane Gallery's Susanne Werner said, "I see it as a positive change. Art Walk was getting old and needed to be re-energized. Getting the whole business community involved will do just that."
The art scene has changed in Kirkland over the past two decades. From a high of 16 voted-in member galleries, the association is down to eight that participate in the monthly art walk (Gunnar Nordstrom Gallery, Patricia Rovzar Gallery, Lakeshore Gallery, Howard/Mandville Gallery, Parklane Gallery, Thomas D. Mangelsen's Images of Nature Gallery and Elka Rouskov Gallery. The Kirkland Library is also an association member but doesn't technically participate in the downtown art walk because of its proximity.)
Not surprisingly, the attrition in the number of galleries affected attendance. "It used to be that you couldn't get around to them all," Nordstrom said. Obviously, this is no longer true. Instead of canceling the event, the association decided to seek strength in numbers and present a unified front. They also involved the KDA - spearheaded by restaurant veteran Dick Beazell - for leadership and guidance.
One fairly substantial change is that the association decided to truncate the hours to from 6-9 p.m. to 6-8 p.m., with the understanding that the galleries will stay open if the situation warrants. In other words, no one will be asked to leave at 8 if they're still shopping. Parklane Gallery, an artist-owned cooperative, has decided to retain the original time structure of 6-9 p.m.
There's an argument that the new all-city positioning of the evening could detract from the art-mecca concept that Kirkland has been crowned with over the years. But galleries are businesses, and they cater to a bottom line. No one wants more empty storefronts.
For the most part, the gallery owners are on board ... and excited. "I think it's terrific," said Georgie Kilrain, another senior Kirkland gallery owner. And the new name eliminates date confusion. "There will be no doubt in anybody's mind when it is."