» By CONOR SCRUTON – cscruton@my.apsu.edu

Clarksville is generally known as a college or military town, but there’s also a lot of culture to be found. Before APSU students left for spring break, I checked out one of the hallmarks of Clarksville culture: the First Thursday ArtWalk.

Held, as you might have guessed, on the first Thursday of each month, the ArtWalk is an event downtown that brings local businesses and galleries together to celebrate local art.

Officially from 5 to 8 p.m., the ArtWalk is a cool place to experience classic Clarksville music, food and theatre, as well as visual art.

While specific deals and events vary, you can find plenty to keep yourself occupied just walking around Strawberry Alley and Franklin Street.

One of the most consistent features of ArtWalk is the APSU Downtown Gallery. At 116 Strawberry Alley, the gallery displays the work of different APSU faculty and alumni each month.

During March, the gallery features the sculptures of APSU art professors Rusty Barwick and Carolann Haggard.

While other art galleries downtown are always in full swing for the ArtWalk, such as the ARTifacts Emporium and Downtown Artist Co-op, what’s cool about the event is that art is featured in normal businesses throughout downtown, making it easier for local and amateur artists to display their work.

Also worth looking at are the stores that incorporate local art into their normal sales, such as furniture at Mildred and Mabel’s and fashion at Rogate’s Boutique. Other usual participants include New South Coffee, The Framemaker and The Roxy Regional Theatre.

One thing I would pay special attention to is the food deals going on during ArtWalk. For art enthusiasts and tagalongs alike, many of the exhibits — especially the actual galleries — provide free food and drinks to guests perusing the artwork.

For a more substantial meal, look for “specials” boards by the restaurants on Franklin Street, as several offer deals available only for the night of ArtWalk.

It was great to see Clarksville so alive at night, and the ArtWalk was the sort of event I usually enjoy anyway. With spring starting to warm up Clarksville, it’s the time of year when ArtWalk truly comes alive.

Next month’s Thursday ArtWalk falls on April 5, and anyone wishing to learn more about the April exhibits beforehand can visit downtown Clarksville’s website at historicdowntownclarksville.org.

There, you can find a list of participating businesses and even sign up to have some art of your own featured next month. TAS