BRADENTON -- Village of the Arts business owners are gearing up for the first ArtWalk of the new year and expecting a large crowd.
Kevin Webb, owner of the 10th Avenue West Studios gallery, 1102 10th Ave. W., said January is when many people start to frequent the village more. He's expecting at least a crowd of more than 1,000 people for this Friday night's art walk, from 6-9:30 p.m. The event will continue Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
"It really gets going in January and for the next few months," Webb said. "To start the season we're going to price everything down a little bit to get things rolling."
His gallery displays his unique marine animal sculptures made of metal and acrylics and his friend's artwork. He's been in Village of the Arts for eight years.
Kevin Mosley, 12, who
was nicknamed the village ambassador by some business owners, agreed with Webb. The Harllee Middle School student, who aspires to be an artist, said he's seen foot traffic increase in the village.
"There's always a lot of people," said Kevin, who added he likes living around so many artists. "I help everybody around here, and I paint a little," he said.
Webb, like many other business owners, will offer discounts on merchandise and artwork for the first art walk of the year.
His neighbor and fellow gallery owner Beverly Kershaw will offer a discount on select items as well as host a wine reception for visitors.
Her gallery at 1019 10th Ave. W., features local artists and designers such as Barbara Colangelo and Scott Trumbo. She has been in business in the village for seven years.
"Between Thanksgiving and Christmas a lot of people go North to be with their families. After Christmas, everyone kind of relaxes and gets back to their normal way of life," she said. "We do expect a big crowd both Friday and Saturday night."
ArtWalk takes place the first Friday of each month all year long.
Last April, city officials adopted a plan to revitalize Village of the Arts with an initiative called "Plan to Act" in hopes of making the area one of Bradenton's main attractions. The plan included improving drainage and lighting, adding more signage and developing ways to market the area.
The plan and a study on the area was a partnership between Realize Bradenton, The Bradenton Downtown Development Authority, New College, University of South Florida school of architecture and the Artist's Guild.
Realize Bradenton director Johnette Isham said there has been progress in the physical development of the area. She said there's a meeting planned for February to inform residents and business owners about the progress and upcoming plans.
"The study is looking to bring the Village of the Arts to the next level of success," Isham said. "We want visitors and residents to realize what a jewel Village of the Arts is."
Janey Tate, city of Bradenton and Palmetto reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041. You can follow her on Twitter at @Janey_Tate.