Juneau welcomed back Gallery Walk on Friday night with shopping, music and merriment, undeterred by heavy snow that morning.
Crowds flocked downtown, thronging in the stores and streets as stores, bars, and restaurants opened their doors, hosting artists and craftsmen.
“It feels wonderful. Things are looking up,” said Morgan Johnson, owner of the Plant Studio. “It’s nice to have so much life downtown.”
Dozens of events, organized in many cases by the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council and the Downtown Business Association, greeted the weekend as shoppers knocked out late-game holiday shopping. Planning for the event only began last month, said Alex Vrabec, director of the DBA in a previous interview, but that didn’t slow things down.
“There weren’t any issues. Everything was kind of seamless,” said Traci Hayes, patron services assistant for the JAHC. “All the vendors were very happy to be a part of Gallery Walk.”
Shoppers were also regaled with live performances from groups like Vox Borealis and Juneau Drag, as many stores enjoyed crowds larger than they’d seen in a long time.
“It’s been great. Busy,” said Erin Mitchell, sale and wholesale manager of Annie Kaill’s in an interview. “People are getting out for the first time in a long time. People are starting to get out again and shop.”
It’s hoped by the DBA that the resurgent Gallery Walk will provide a needed boost to the businesses downtown, Vrabec said. That commerce is crucial for businesses like Kaill’s, Mitchell said, which is approaching its 47th anniversary.
“We can’t do that without the locals coming in and supporting us,” Mitchell said. “And of course, they’re supporting the artists.”
Dozens of artists were featured in locations ranging from the Juneau Arts and Culture Center to Centennial Hall to Devil’s Club Brewery Co. and more.
“I’ve done a couple shows,” said Henry Webb, a furniture maker and joiner who was featured at the Plant Studio. “This is the most strangers I’ve been around in a couple years.”
Webb was joined by blacksmith Liam Penn, who crafted metal parts of the items on sale. It was Penn’s first Gallery Walk as an artist.
“It’s cool to talk to people and show them what I do,” Penn said in an interview. “I think it’s beautiful the way the materials combine — the simple joined wood and the one-piece steel hooks. It’s simple and beautiful and will last forever.”