History of Lawrence ArtWalk

The Lawrence ArtWalk is Lawrence’s original art walk and has come to be regarded as one of Lawrence’s premier arts events. It draws visitors from everywhere, even internationally, who plan their visits to town around the event. The annual Lawrence ArtWalk is almost always scheduled in late October on the weekend before Halloween and is one of the earliest opportunities for buyers to shop for holiday gifts.

A Brief History

The Lawrence ArtWalk was started by Lawrence artist Diana Dunkley and book-store owner Pat Kehde in 1995 and primarily featured a walking tour of downtown Lawrence galleries and studios. While the original name of the event has been retained, venues are now located all across Lawrence and even beyond! Lawrence photographer and artist, John Wysocki co-organized the event with fellow artist Sarah Oblinger in 1996-97 and has been organizing the event ever since.

In 1995 in the Lawrence ArtWalk’s inaugural year, artwork was exhibited by 25 artists and one artists’ group, and in nine art galleries at a total of 31 locations. By 2003 the event had grown to feature over 100 participants: artwork was exhibited at 62 locations in and around Lawrence by 76 artists and five artists’ collectives or groups as well as 10 art galleries. In 2004, as part of its 10th anniversary celebrations, the event focused on artists and was preceded by a three-week long Preview Exhibition as well as a Downtown Lawrence Gallery Walk on the Friday before the ArtWalk weekend. The Preview Exhibition was reinstituted in 2009 to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the event. To date (October 2013) 244 individual artists, nine artists’ collectives or groups and 30 galleries or gallery-type venues have taken part in the Lawrence ArtWalk.

Promotional materials have always featured the work of local graphic or fine artists. In 2004 the distinctive logo for the Lawrence ArtWalk, featuring the iconic character Arthur Walker Esq., was illustrated by Lawrence cartoonist Dale Martin. In 2005, the Featured Artist Award was initiated to feature one artist’s work on promotional materials.