For any Valley residents who have never taken a walk down Main Street in Mesa, it can be a charming experience when done properly. The Second Friday Mesa Artwalk event can show you how. On the second Friday of every month, local artists and craftsmen set up booths along the street to showcase and sell their work. Businesses and galleries leave their doors open, and visitors are welcome to peruse their displays of paintings and prints. There is live music, food, and—rain?! Wait a minute.
This month, the Second Friday event was rained on just a little, though even a small amount of precipitation was enough to get some artists and vendors to pack up early. Luckily, most visitors were able to see everything before then, and by the time the tents came down, the crowd had come and gone. I arrived on Main Street fashionably late and was afforded more than enough time to get through each booth, stop by some interesting shops, and check out all the crazy costumes. Yes, costumes.
The theme this month was Steampunk, and visitors were invited to take part in the festivities by donning their goggles, top hats, and other neo-Victorian garments. Aside from the crazy-cool costumes that guests wore, many of the booths had Steampunk-themed artwork and crafts on display. Guns and hats were most prevalent, though the occasional gas-mask, corset, or clock turned up. Several booths and shops featured more conventional—if you can call it that—artwork as well.
After the rain and wind proved too much for my hair, as well as many of the artists’ booths outside, I turned my attention indoors. Main Street is home to a number of unique restaurants, boutiques, and special interest shops. Not as many doors were open late as was promised, but I did manage to visit my favorites, Gotham City Comics and Lulubell Toy Bodega. At the latter, I scored a pretty awesome illustration by Michael V. Bennett, Hallucinatory Pop Artist (as it states on his business card).
Overall, the Second Friday Mesa Artwalk is a great way to discover cool hangouts, get to know the local artists, and find something sick to put on your wall. It is also the first quality Artwalk event I have been to in a long time. After tiring of the break dancers and “free hugs” signs in Phoenix and the tables upon tables of hand-crafted jewelry in Chandler, it is refreshing to see Downtown Mesa doing it right. Every Second Friday event is held from 6:00-10:00pm. Make sure to check it out next month!