For Art’s Sake

Wilmington Art Loop celebrates 30 years

Wilmingtonians love the Loop concept.

Back in the late 1970s, Fine Times Magazine came up with an idea to create a costumed bar crawl to celebrate Halloween. This October, the Halloween Loop will celebrate its 39th year.

In the late ‘80s, Out & About Magazine decided that one Loop wasn’t enough. So, it added the St. Paddy’s Loop; a variety of other themes soon followed (Seventies Loop, Eighties Loop, Pink Loop, Octoberfest Loop, Cinco de Mayo Loop…). Today, the City Loop Series has three decades of history and boasts five annual events.

And in 1988, Wilmington’s art community chose to coordinate their monthly exhibition openings and create a citywide reception to celebrate art. It began as Art on the Town, but Wilmington knows the Loop concept when it sees it. So, this First Friday tradition quickly became known as the Art Loop.

On Sept. 7, Art Loop Wilmington will begin its 30th season.

What a coincidence. Out & About Magazine is also celebrating its 30th year and so it seems quite fitting that we partner with the City of Wilmington’s Office of Cultural Affairs to elevate this proud city tradition.

“The value of the Art Loop to artists, exhibition spaces, businesses and the public can be measured, in part, by its longevity,” says Tina Betz, director, Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs. “The Art Loop has survived for 30 years and five different city administrations.” 

“The City Loop Series and the Art Loop have one very important thing in common—small retailers working together to create an event in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” says Jerry duPhily, publisher of Out & About Magazine.

“We respect Wilmington’s art scene and have supported the Art Loop since its inception,” duPhily continues. “In fact, many artists featured on the Loop have appeared on our cover or in the magazine. So, we’re excited about what else we can bring to the table to help raise the profile of area artists, city galleries and other city businesses.”

Beginning with opening Loop on Sept. 7, the Art Loop will now take place the first Friday of all 12 months (except July 2019, which is set for July 12, the second Friday, because of Fourth of July Weekend). In previous years, the Art Loop did not take place in January and some summer months were dark. There will also be a uniform Loop start time of 5 p.m. Closing time will be up to individual galleries.

Out & About is also teaming with Break Thru Beverage to present complimentary beer, wine or spirit tastings at three Loop venues that will rotate each month. The complimentary downtown shuttle bus will be in action again this season and a post-Loop dining special at select city restaurants will be announced for October.

To keep art patrons informed, a two-page spread identifying participating venues and artists will appear in each of issue of Out & About (see previous pages for this month’s). The official website, ArtLoopWilmington.org, has been made mobile friendly and will feature the upcoming lineup a minimum of two weeks prior to each Art Loop.

“The Blue Streak Gallery has been on Art on the Town since the first Friday it began,” says gallery owner Ellen Bartholomaus. “It is a highlight of the cultural life of our city. People from all parts of the area and all age groups come out to support their local galleries and restaurants. Friends reunite, learn about new artists, and enjoy the uniqueness and one-of-a-kind spaces that make Wilmington interesting and special.”

So, what do you think? Please comment below.