ArtStreet more than doubles Art Hotel attendance

The public art warehouse known as ArtStreet came to a bittersweet close Saturday, with hundreds lining up for a last peek at the massive collaboration among Sacramento’s visual, musical and culinary creative people.

ArtStreet drew roughly 32,000 people during its three-week run, organizers estimated Saturday. The free pop-up museum was a sequel to the successful Art Hotel project that drew more than 13,000 people to the downtown Jade Apartments last February.

There were at least 800 people on the lot every day, with the rainiest days drawing the smallest crowds and the closing weekend selling out rapidly, said curator Seumas Coutts of M5 Arts, the group behind the recent projects. There were no major incidents or injuries at ArtStreet, though one visitor did fracture an ankle.

On Saturday afternoon, visitors lounged on the 65,000-square-foot lot and bounced between outdoor installations while waiting for a 45-minute tour of the main exhibit. Admission was free, though patrons could avoid the line by purchasing a $10 reservation.

“It’s important in a city like Sacramento that people have free access to art, lectures and film, while still privileging the artist,” Coutts said. “It’s a nice, comfy place to hang out and enjoy the moment for a while.”

While the vibe at ArtStreet was playful and uplifting, the paintings, sculptures and multimedia displays in the museum tackled serious topics including mental health, sexual violence and homelessness. The project took $160,000 to create and was funded largely by public donations.

On Sunday, the M5 Arts team will begin dismantling the massive exhibit and finding homes for the mannequins, metal beams, tree branches, computer screens and other miscellaneous materials that filled the labyrinth-like exhibit.

Any unsold art pieces and salvageable building materials will be donated to Habitat for Humanity of Greater Sacramento, which will sell the items at its ReStore warehouse and use the profits for community construction projects.

“We’ve chatted about making an ArtStreet section in our ReStore, in case anyone would want to keep a piece of Sacramento history,” said Laine Himmelmann, spokeswoman for the nonprofit group.

M5 Arts is looking for volunteers to help with the take-down, which they will complete between Sunday and mid-March.

“It’s going to be fun,” Coutts said. “There will be a lot of precision cutting, and then a lot of random destruction.”

Once the warehouse is empty, the developers behind The Mill at Broadway, which sponsored ArtStreet, will demolish most of the lot to make way for more housing units.

Bru Lei, a Sacramento artist whose ArtStreet mural depicted life in midtown, was saying a difficult goodbye to the temporary exhibit on Saturday.

“It’s community. It’s love. It’s something that should be permanent, but it’s not,” Lei said. “This is the only chance we have to experience this – these 22 days.”

This isn’t the end for the M5 Arts team, Coutts said. The group is assessing venues for its envisioned “Art City,” an even larger installation that would incorporate art elements from other areas including Davis and Roseville.

Bridget Alexander, who attended ArtStreet for the first time Saturday, said she was glad to catch the project at the last minute and hopes that free, accessible museum experiences will continue to thrive in Sacramento.

“It seemed like it had just started and then all of a sudden it was the last day, so we hopped in the car,” said Alexander, who runs a nonprofit group for young homeless parents. “This is really a community builder. It brings together a huge swath of ages, huge diversity. It’s really nice that it feels so down to earth. Plus, you can climb on stuff.”

Sammy Caiola: 916-321-1636, @SammyCaiola

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