The Southern Ohio Museum and Cultural Center (SOMACC) is in the early planning stages of organizing an entire summer of ACID (Arts Culture Innovation District) art showcases called the ACID Art Walks that will feature a plethora of themes while showcasing local artistry across many mediums and the small businesses that make our downtown unique.
The events will run May through October, on second Saturdays, between 1 and 5 p.m.
The series is a second coming of the walk, with a trial walk having happened last summer to test the waters.
“I think it went well. We didn’t know what to expect with it being a first-time event,” SOMACC Artistic Director Charlotte Gordon said. “The fact we co-programmed with the Main Street Portsmouth Wine and Dine and Earth Candy Farmacy was great, because we had people with the same interests of going out and exploring their own town and all it has to offer.”
The first walk was a huge hit, bringing out well over a hundred guests for music, poetry, dance and visual arts, and the group hopes to continue that momentum in an organic way that highlights the district and community as a whole.
“The vision is to build the framework for creative growth within downtown, specifically in the arts district. So many cities and towns have done this kind of thing at many sizes, and they’ve all evolved to reflect what their town has to offer. Columbus has their gallery hop, Cincinnati has Over the Rhine District, and small towns have various opportunities to let creatives hit the streets to show what they’re working on and what they’re all about,” Gordon said. “The museum is the backbone of this endeavor and we don’t want to dictate what it looks like, but we want to build that framework so it can grow organically and become what it will be for Portsmouth.”
The ACID was formed in recent years to spark and ignite growth for Chillicothe Street, with places like the SOMACC and the Shawnee State University Kricker Innovation Hub serving as leaders in development alongside brick and mortar businesses and restaurants.
“I think it is a way to funnel economic growth. Boneyfiddle did such an amazing job at reinventing itself through building development and economic growth. What I was hearing at City Council and at the museum was that people wanted to stretch out in different direction—down 52 or 23 or even West Portsmouth,” Gordon said. “We’re lucky in that downtown is very walkable and we don’t have a freeway going through it, or something else. In order to continue that economic growth, and that synergy and energy of developing and redeveloping Portsmouth, we wanted to pick up right on that area of Washington Street and Boneyfiddle and continuing it over to the river and the rest of the district was a natural direction to push that growth. We’re starting to see that, too. We are seeing Chillicothe Street, Gallia, and even Fourth and Fifth getting development. We are starting to see the seeds sprouting and growing and taking root. The arts district, like other cities, feels different from surrounding areas. Our area does feel much different from Boneyfiddle and I think whatever takes hold and grows will provide totally different opportunities for citizens and travelers.”
The walks will welcome surrounding artists and creatives to join downtown to showcase their work and artistries in a way that also highlights the existing businesses and culinary arts that make the district worth visiting. The group is also forming different themes to go along with each month.
“The themes will be a focus or feature that we can circle around and unpack,” Gordon explained.
The walks are being hosted by a collective of people and community leaders and Gordon believes they will be showcasing the importance of local artists.
“Arts are always a reflection of the culture,” Gordon said. “The visual arts, music, performing arts. It is something that the museum has certainly embraced and has grown. We see the impact it has on our town and the visitors it brings in and to be able to spill the museum outside of the walls and open this up and partner with all of the businesses in the arts district is a really exciting opportunity to everyone in the city.”
Reach Joseph Pratt at (740) 353-3101, by email at [email protected], © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved