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Art of the City: Sturgeon Bay Art Crawl

From the Miller Art Museum to the galleries and studios located throughout the city, Sturgeon Bay is full of opportunities to see local art. But opportunities to see that art being created are more rare.

That’s why the annual Sturgeon Bay Art Crawl is so popular, according to co-facilitator Karen Hertz-Sumnicht – and why it has grown so much since its inception in 2007. The first crawl featured four artists exhibiting in their home studios, but this year’s crawl features 28 artists in 24 locations throughout Sturgeon Bay.

Still, that number doesn’t represent all the artists who are working in the city.

“I think the community is growing when I look at our full list of artists in the 54235 [zip code],” Hertz-Sumnicht said. “We could have over 40, easily.”

Next year, in fact, she hopes to increase their numbers and encourage more younger artists to participate in the crawl. The three-day event is a chance for locals and visitors to put faces to the art they may have seen around town, learn how those works are made, and watch artists in their natural habitats, whether those are studios or homes.

Getting a behind-the-scenes look at the workspaces of local artists and seeing the books and objects that can serve as inspiration in their studios are many participants’ favorite part of the crawl, according to Hertz-Sumnicht.

But not all local artists have a studio space of their own. That’s why the Miller Art Museum’s satellite location, M3, was established: to feature the work of several artists without galleries, giving them a high-visibility, high-traffic space in which to exhibit. M3 will also feature art by high school members of the Miller’s Art Ambassadors group. 

This is exactly the sort of community support M3 was intended for, according to Marie Kimball, the Miller Art Museum’s education and outreach coordinator.

“What we’re trying to do is have M3 as a resource for the creative community,” she said.

Painter and art crawl co-facilitator Lynn Gilchrist hopes that the art crawl has the same unifying effect, giving community members an opportunity to learn about art in a more relaxed, accessible setting. And it’s not just for art connoisseurs, she said. Instead, “it’s for those looking for inspiration, and it’s for those looking for gifts, and those who are just curious.” 

“We really want to take down those fences,” Hertz-Sumnicht said – and to get people interested in becoming artists themselves. “I get some of the most inspiring conversations with people during the art crawl who want to talk about, ‘How can I jump in and start making art?’”

Although the size of the art crawl keeps getting bigger, many of its time-honored traditions remain the same. One of them is the Friday-night kickoff party, when all the crawl’s artists and members of the public are invited to gather for a reception, 5-7 pm, at M3, 142 S. 3rd Ave.

Another tradition is the Doerr Prize: a piece created by woodworker Michael A. Doerr that participants have a chance to win by signing slips at all artists’ locations. This year’s piece is a wood-turned platter.

Each art crawl location will be open Nov. 18-20, 10 am – 4 pm. Maps of the participating locations will be available at each artist’s location, Artists Guild, Destination Sturgeon Bay and various stores and businesses throughout Sturgeon Bay and the county. Information is also available at sturgeonbayartcrawl.com.

Artists participating in this year’s Sturgeon Bay Art Crawl are Kari Anderson, Prisca Benson-Fittshur, Liz Butler, Jeanne Demers, Michael A. Doerr, Jane Faella, Lynn Gilchrist, Helen del Guidice, Karen Hertz-Sumnicht, Jeanne Kuhns, Margaret Lockwood, Dave Nielsen, Pat Olson, Kollin Orthober, Jeremy Popelka, Monica Ramirez, Julia Redwine, Melissa Resch, Mac Schueppert, Claudia Scimeca, Barbara Lee Shakal, Linda Sheard, Deb Stroh-Larson, Joe Taylor, Seth Taylor, Stephanie Trenchard, Kerry Vavra and Dale Vanden Houten.

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