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As you approach downtown Delray Beach you can’t help but notice the seaside town is pretty artful. Make that art full.
Whether you get to the entertainment enclave on and around Atlantic Avenue from I-95 or U.S. 1, there’s a good chance you’ll see public art on a grand scale — sculptures on street corners and murals splayed on buildings. But until now, there wasn’t a one-stop-shop kind of clearinghouse for information on all the art on display, both indoors and outdoors.
DelrayArtTrail.com is a curated site where you can do a virtual tour and read about the works and the artists. If you prefer a more in-person, real-world experience, then there are also QR codes on many of the works so you can scan with your smart phone on a self-guided tour.
Best part? It’s free. And it has been put in place just in time for the First Friday Art Walk, a monthly mash-up of street fair and open house for local art galleries and studios that kicks off Friday, Oct. 1.
“You’re stepping in the arts community as you drive around town,” says Marusca Gatto, the downtown activation manager for the Delray Beach Downtown Development Authority. “Many art installations just pop up in front of you. The whole [city] is about art. There was just so much and amazing buzz….you’ve got Artist Alley, Pineapple Grove Arts District. For me it was a perfect imperfect artist enclave.”
Gatto is referring to when she moved to South Florida seven years ago from Italy by way of Rochester, N.Y. Before joining the DDA, she worked for the Cornell Art Museum, part of the Old School Square entertainment complex in downtown Delray Beach.
She says that the idea for the Delray Beach Art Trail was sparked by a virtual conference last year where a presenter suggested that organizations “create some way for visitors to view art in their own way…in a safe way,” Gatto recalls.
So now the program chronicles:
- 52 murals with three more in the works
- 42 art installations documented and another 25 in the process of being documented
- Eight cultural centers
- And about 35 galleries and studios
Laura Simon, the executive director of the DDA, adds, “The … seed was planted, but it really came down to how do we make it happen? The biggest challenge, what took so long, was making sure that we inventoried all the art that is here and capture the information from the artists, sharing that story. You can click a QR code and get a little bit more information, about other artists, and where you can see 100 pieces of art like this in our community.”
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Simon says that unlike many projects, COVID-19 was not a hindrance or cause for delays.
“The pandemic really brought…it to fruition,” she says. “We’ve always been an arts and entertainment downtown. Delray Beach has been a home to local artists for over 100 years. But there was not anything bringing it all together in one place. I think the pandemic provided us an opportunity to really look at this…and do it well.”
The DDA says that economic calculators show the arts, both visual and performance, are a financial benefit.
Simon agrees and adds that the Delray Beach Art Trail program also fosters a good vibe for the city.
“It feels fun. It’s entertaining. We make it fun. It’s not just kind of museum thing, though our museum are not stuffy at all. Every day feels like an art walk [with the program]. It’s not overpowering. Its not an in your face kind of thing.”