Almost four decades after the first art walk Downtown, Art Detour 35 still promises an immersive enlightening experience.

The origins of Artlink’s signature annual programming, starting as a Saturday afternoon celebration of Downtown artists in 1989, grew beyond those roots over time.

Art Detour covers a wide range of arts and culture activities, from traditional prints and mixed media in gallery settings, to include other points of local culture, such as fashion shows and the symphony.

“It’s a Detour without limits,” said Catrina Kahler, President & CEO of Artlink. “It celebrates all facets of arts and culture in Arizona.”

Now in its 35th year, the reach of Artlink’s Art Detour has expanded from its humble beginnings as a local showcase. The wide range of activities reflects how Artlink grew into “a year-round organization” for connectivity to strengthen the local community.

Since 2021, the scope of the event blossomed to cover most major cities in the state, throughout the month of March. The format change happened by necessity after the Pandemic prematurely ended a week of programming in 2020.

A sampling of the Downtown programming includes a wide variety of formats, from shipping container galleries by Xico during First Friday to bespoke cocktail experiences by James Beard-honored mixologist Kim Haasarud at Garden Bar, and Ceili dancing, a type of Irish folk dancing, at the Irish Cultural Center & McClelland Library.

The month-long celebration of the arts is highlighted by the 10th Annual Art d’Core Gala, occurring Saturday, March 11, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Park Central, where artists and guests get to connect.

“We created the Gala events to bring artists, business, and civic leaders together, not in a meeting but socially,” said Kahler. “This is how relationships can be built and supported, and each group’s work can be appreciated and advocated for. It’s good to spend time in celebration with one another.”

Last year, the gala moved to the new venue, which boasted 80,000 square feet of moldable space to provide an elevated experience for guests. This year, Artlink will honor Former Arizona Speaker of the House Rusty Bowers, Arizona Representatives Marcelino Quiñonez and Justin Wilmeth, Gallery Owner Lisa Sette, and The Carmody Foundation. Across the space, 34 live visual and performing artists and 10 culinary demonstrations will be stationed throughout for a uniquely immersive experience.

“The space gives artists the freedom to create, knowing their work will be experienced by an appreciative audience. It also allowed us to host an event in an indoor space, as public safety concerns of COVID slowly faded,” said Kahler.

The theme of this year’s gala is “Rays of Light,” and is about celebrating the energy of the moment, to recognize those who energize a creative culture that significantly contributes to our community and economy.

Art Detour 35 runs through March 31, hosted by various art and culture institutions throughout the Valley. Just a few highlights include artist workshops in partnership with the City of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture, a Creative City Symposium with Phoenix Community Alliance, a celebration of the 10 years of IN FLUX Public Art Program, Detour Day Trips with Arizona Commission on the Arts, and more.  For a full list of programming or to purchase tickets to the Art d’Core Gala please visit the Art Detour website here.

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