Art Walk began with a simple vision of a mural and has transformed into a catalyst leading to a contagious community enthusiasm further fueling Atmore’s sense of pride and the forward-focused momentum to see our community brought back to life. This multifaceted initiative encompasses, focuses on, and addresses – Tourism, Community Cohesiveness, Healthy Communities, Senior Quality of Life, Promoting Walkable Communities, Workforce Development, Public Education, Public Art, Economic Development, Underprivileged Sectors, and the Overall Rural Community Revitalization.
“Art Walk” is an interactive walking tour of Atmore’s Downtown Business District intended to increase tourism, boost commerce, create a sense of pride and uniqueness within our community members, enhance the quality of life, and further add to the tremendous momentum behind the revitalization of the Atmore Area. Art installations such as ours are proven to create opportunities for community dialogue, shared cultural experiences, and civic work. Pablo Picasso said, “the purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls”. If you look in small towns and rural communities, not just here in America, but across the globe, you will find art and cultural expression in what some might call the most unlikely of places. There are numerous examples in America of rural cities and small towns developing art and cultural experiences in their communities. They do so to encourage tourism and create local economic opportunities, certainly. But they also recognize that successful efforts to revitalize their communities and main streets depend on something deeper than simple economics. In essence, through new art experiences, sleepy rural communities are dusting off the passing of time, having new life breathed into them, and boldly stepping into a new era of success and prosperity. No matter their size, thriving communities have at their heart vibrancy, an ability to lift their eyes to the horizon, to hope, to dream, and to act upon those dreams. Could there be any greater expression of such vibrancy than communities that embrace art and community-expression, especially at the community level?
Phase 1 – Mural
The Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce began “ArtWalk” in late July of 2018 with the addition of the #DiscoverAtmore mural located in downtown Atmore on the Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce building located at 137 North Main Street. The custom-designed 12×30 mural, painted by Patti Gillespie, serves as our first planned tourism project, “Art Walk”.
The postcard themed art installation was initially intended as a singular project to encourage patronage of our downtown business district, however, as the project evolved and support was expressed it quickly became clear that the mural is so much more! As of today, it serves all of the initial purposes it was intended for in addition to now marking the first phase and initial stop of the chamber project, “Art Walk”.
The mural installation supported by the partnership of the Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce along with the Alabama Association of RC&D Councils has the opportunity to lead significant change by engaging the Atmore Area community at large and visitors alike. Through these art installations, the Chamber is confident it has found a unique opportunity for all demographics and segments of the population to come together in the creation and celebration of our culture, history, and FUTURE! It is our intention to use these installations as a catalyst to further build upon and develop Atmore’s social capital by cooperating, sharing, and seeking/finding shared goals, and by developing ties on a cultural level. These connections will serve our community well in other endeavors–from economic development and civic participation to healthy living.
Phase 2 – Trains
The Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce began “ArtWalk: Phase 2 – Trains ” in mid-2019. For this phase of ArtWalk, the Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce with the support of the Gulf Coast RC&D Council worked alongside local business, Brown Precision, John’s Paint & Body, Landis Design Co., and Escambia County High School students dually-enrolled in the welding program at Coastal Alabama Community College to create the trains.
Each student-designed, steel train stands approximately 4 feet wide and 3 feet tall. The materials for the trains were purchased locally from Escofab Inc. and were manufactured by students from Escambia County High School. The trains were then sponsored by area businesses and organizations. These sponsors recognized the significance of the project helping us bring to life this exciting addition to the Atmore Area that engages a limitless audience from community members to visitors alike. Each train sponsor along with all the contributors are greatly appreciated and recognized as part of the fabric of the community. The Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce could not be more proud of this project is 100% community-sourced, created, and supported.