Art walks have become a Yogi Berra-ism: They’re so popular, no one goes anymore – at least, not to look at art, so say the critics.
We love Maine’s art walks, and appreciate that so many cities have added them to their summer roster of fun. No fewer than 18 Maine communities host monthly art walks, often on Friday evenings, creating an inviting mix of Maine’s art-making tradition with our love of downtown culture.
Artists open their studios and galleries, and restaurants, cafes and other businesses adapted to accommodate Maine’s creative spirit.
Many towns schedule musicians and street performers. The most famous is Portland’s First Friday Art walk, which draws as many as 10,000 people to Congress Street on the first Friday of each month. Portland keeps its art walk moving year round, whereas most of the other cities hold them only during warm-weather months.
Here are some art the walks coming up between now and the end of the summer:
Belfast hosts its walk on the fourth Friday of the month from May to October, starting at 5:30 p.m. Next dates: July 24 and Aug. 28. belfastartwalk.com
On the last Thursday of the month from June to September. More than two dozen shops and galleries in the village make Wiscasset even more walkable than it already is. Begins at 5 p.m. Next dates: July 30, Aug. 27 and Sept. 25. www.facebook.com/WiscArtWalk
Biddeford and Saco
Arts venues in the downtown areas of both cities, as well as businesses in the mills, come together beginning at 5 p.m. the last Friday of the month. Runs April through October. Next dates: July 31 and Aug. 28. biddefordsacoartwalk.com
The final Friday of the month from May through September. This art walk celebrates existing culture and the potential for more. In addition to promoting the efforts of Lewiston and Auburn businesses that support the arts, the art walk places local artists in vacant buildings through downtown, creating an instant arts district. Begins at 5 p.m. Next dates: July 31 and Aug. 28. www.artwalklewistonauburn.com
Rockland sticks to an easy formula: First Friday of every month, through December. The city is teeming with galleries and creative enterprise. The art walk simply reminds us that Rockland is second only to Portland when it comes to Maine cities with an artistic core. Next dates: Aug. 7 and Sept. 4. www.artsinrockland.org
The first Friday of the month, year-round. The biggest in Maine, by far. It’s a street festival more than an art event, and lots of fun. Starts at 5 p.m. Next dates: Aug. 7 and Sept. 4. www.liveworkportland.org/first-friday-art-walk-new
Gardiner hosts its art walk just three times a year, in May, August and December. The approach works. The city has had an art walk since 2005, and it’s done a good job calling attention to the creative instincts of the city and its residents. Begins at 5 p.m. Next date: Aug. 7. www.facebook.com/ArtWalk.Gardiner
The first Friday of the month from June through October. Two dozen galleries, shops and boutiques make Bar Harbor feel even more crowded and busy than it already is. Begins at 6 p.m. Next dates: Aug. 7, Sept. 4 and Oct. 2. www.facebook.com/ArtWalkBarHarbor
The Boothbay art walk is a daylong affair beginning at 9 a.m. on the first Friday of the month. The nice thing about Boothbay Harbor’s art walk is the proximity of the galleries. They’re all tucked together. Next dates: Aug. 7, Sept. 4 and Oct. 2. www.boothbayregister.com
The second Friday art walk brings people out to downtown and the mill complexes in July, August and September with a dozen or more participants. Starts at 5 p.m. Next dates: Aug. 14 and Sept. 11. artwalkmaine.org/brunswick/
On the third Friday of the month from June through October. Artists and galleries join together to celebrate the creative diversity of these cities, which pair naturally together. Begins at 4 p.m. Next dates: Aug. 21, Sept. 18, Oct. 16. www.facebook.com/TwinVillagesArtWalk
On the third Friday of the month, June through September. About 25 artists and galleries remind us why Bath is the nicest small city in Maine. Begins at 4 p.m. Next dates: Aug. 21 and Sept. 18. www.facebook.com/BathMaineArtWalk
A dozen galleries in Kennebunk’s Lower Village and Kennebunkport’s Dock Square participate in the walk on the second Friday of the month. Starts at 5 p.m. Next date: Aug. 14. gokennebunks.com
There’s also a Kennebunk art walk on the third Friday of the month from June through September. Starts at 5 p.m. Next dates: Aug. 21 and Sept. 18. www.facebook.com/ThirdFridayArtWalkKennebunk