Elizabeth Ahlem Clark next to her watercolor art at Collecting Colorways on Friday, Oct. 4 // Photo by Naileah Abarca By Naileah Abarca Blue lights wrapped around the trees gleamed against the dark sky along Railroad Avenue for the first Downtown Art Walk of the academic year. The Art Walk, which took place Oct. 4, has been a tradition in Bellingham since the ‘80s. In the last 15 years, the event has been organized by Bellingham’s Downtown Partnership. “The mission of the Downtown Bellingham Partnership (DBP) is to champion the health and vitality of downtown Bellingham through the promotion of commerce, culture and celebration,” said Calista Klein, the events and promotions coordinator for the Bellingham Partnership. “The Art Walk is a recognition of local businesses and our artistic community – both of which are important and worth celebrating,” she said. Shops, bars and restaurants host artists and their work. The list of businesses rotates monthly, so it’s a new experience every time. The Art Walk brought out all sorts of people into the windy streets, from beaming business owners and confident artists to people who just wanted to connect with others in their community. Third-year Western student Natalie Strauss, who is new to the area, wanted to do exactly that. “I'm a transfer student, and I live off-campus, so I really wanted to use this opportunity to get to know some new people and experience the downtown Bellingham area,” she said. Strauss took part in the first Art Walk Meet Up hosted by program specialist Laurel Hammond and Off-Campus Living Program Manager Julia Burns. The group meets at the Western City Center at 6 p.m. the first Friday of each month and visits a few of locations featuring local creative talent. Then, participants are welcome to continue as a group or explore on their own. The group welcomes anyone from the campus community to join them, to either explore Bellingham for the first time or to rediscover the downtown scene. Erin Eggenburg of wrenbirdarts is an artist who had work showcased at the Topaz Salon, which specializes in clean non-toxic beauty products. “I've been [in Bellingham] for about three years,” Eggenburg said. She has lived in larger cities which granted her more business, but living in a smaller town also has its perks. “You get to know people a lot easier, so it's kind of a double-edged sword.” The Art Walk gives artists a platform to showcase their art and enables small businesses in the area to gain exposure. Kelly Bird, the owner of the Topaz Salon, said she loves being part of the community during the event. “I'm an artist as well and finding spaces to showcase your work can be challenging,” Bird said. Her salon doubles as an art gallery pop up for others in the art business in Bellingham and Bird enjoys having a space to offer them. The Bellingham Art Walk takes place on the first Friday of every month from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Visit https://www.downtownbellingham.com/ every month for an updated map of where the Art Walk will be taking place.