Hillcrest is hosting its inaugural First Thursday Art Night this week, the neighborhood hoping it will help stimulate businesses hurt during the pandemic.
“We're just trying to be mindful of keeping everyone safe but also having fun reengaging with the community,” said Kania Hayes, the event coordinator for the Hillcrest Business Association.
On Thurday morning, crews began setting up booths for food vendors and art sellers. Hillcrest is hoping to host the art walk every month along Mural Alley, off Unversity between 4th and 5th avenues.
“When you first come into the event, I'll be right there with my smiling face,” said Ell Treese, one of the featured artists
Treese has a positive spirit even after the isolation of pandemic. She sympathizes with her fellow artists who have been forced out of their studios due to financial hardship.
“I just want to thank all the people who have been supporting artists through all of this craziness, 'cause it has been pretty tough out here for us,” Treese said.
Neighboring businesses are also hoping to cash in on the art walk. At Cocina Calavera, they're happy to be welcoming customers back. Owner Joshua Evans, however, said he understands that there are still COVID-19 concerns.
“COVID has been really scary -- opening a business in the middle of that," Evans said, adding, "It's something I always take very seriously. We're always on top of wearing our masks, social distancing."
With safety in mind, neighbors are hoping that music and art help the area bounce back.
“Art is an essential part of life,” said Patrick Stillman, owner of the Studio Door art gallery. "At least that's what I believe as an artist. I think with arts, food, entertainment, it's gonna bring the fabulous back to Hillcrest."
The events run from 5-11 p.m. Masks are required, and there will be hand-washing stations and hand sanitizers for guests.