The first Ravenswood ArtWalk took place in 2002 when Judith Roth, then President of Chicago Women’s Caucus for Art, sought to involve her community in the celebration of Chicago Artists Month. Judith went door-to-door speaking with artists and asking them if they would open their studios for a day to the public.
In 2003, Ms. Roth encountered two natural partners, artist Dave Avery and Sarah Shumate, Program Director for The Jane Addams Resource Corporation. JARC had been running a “Tour of Industry” since 1998 that focused on the industrial history of the Ravenswood Corridor. The three expressed a mutual desire to include the increasing population of artists working within the community.
The Ravenswood Bank joined the CWCA as a sponsor of “The Ravenswood Corridor Arts & Industry Walk” in 2004. William Marquardsen, an employee of the bank, joined Judith Roth in her continued efforts to nurture the Ravenswood ArtWalk. Marquardsen organized volunteers to staple and hand-deliver maps to the 25 locations participating in the tour that year.
2006 marked several milestones for ArtWalk. Dale Davison, inspired by Fire Arts Center founder Vincen Hawkins, brought new energy to forge a fresh, grassroots coalition among key community members. In August of that year, Judith and Dale re-named the organization ArtWalk Ravenswood, and it became an official 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. In addition to the new name, ArtWalk Ravenswood added a logo thanks to the artistic talent of Theodore Atzeff, Buffalo Hunters.
2006 was also the first year that ArtWalk Ravenswood awarded the Ravenswood Arts Advocate Award. Conceived of by board members Dave Avery and Mary Pat Studdert, the award honors individuals and organizations that have promoted art and industry in the historic Ravenswood Corridor.
In 2013 the ArtWalk Ravenswood Executive Board elected to merge the Ravenswood Community Council, a move deemed necessary to improve the festival’s capacity to serve the artists of Ravenswood, and the ensure that RAW continued long into the future. Operating under the stewardship of the RCC, RAW 2014 contained over 300 artists and artisans displaying across 34 sites, centered around a corridor street festival with two stages of live music, an urban craft beer garden, two stages of live music and a food truck roundup, as well as the introduction of the RAW Children’s Corner and the Ravenswood ConcertWalk.
Thanks to sustained growth and an outpouring of support from sponsors, local businesses and the community at large, RAW moves into its 14th year ready to again welcome hundreds of artists and thousands visitors from across the Midwest. The 2015 Ravenswood ArtWalk is currently scheduled for September 19th and 20th, 2015. Be on the look out for further information in February.