Local artists, galleries and businesses will unite July 5 for the First Friday Art March.

"The Art March is a collection of businesses, artists and galleries coming together to really showcase the neighborhoods between Forsyth Park and Victory Drive," said Desotorow Inc. events manager Steven Miller. "It's a good opportunity for people in the community to come out and explore these neighborhoods and really see the opportunities there and to support local artists and businesses."

The family-friendly event also will offer live music and activities for all ages. The event is being organized by Desotorow Inc., and is sponsored by the Savannah Area Artisans Guild, Creative Approach, Utrecht Art Supplies and Well Fed Magazine.

Participating businesses will include the Sentient Bean, Foxy Loxy Print Gallery & Cafe, Graveface Records & Curiosities, PERC Coffee, Maldoror's Frame Shop, Desotorow Gallery, the Starland Cafe, Black Orchid Tattoo, Sicky Nar Nar, The Chocolate Lab, The Mansion on Forsyth and Drayton Glass Works.

The art march will feature the Indie Art Market, an interactive space at Desotorow Gallery where the public can purchase work from independent artists, hear live music from local groups and experience live demos.

"Down on De Soto Avenue, we'll have a collection of local artists with the ability to sell their wares, live music and sidewalk chalking for the kids and other fun," Miller said. "This is the first official art walk coordinated by Desotorow Inc. We're hoping to maintain the traditions supported by previous groups and expand it into something really special."

There is no admission charge. Everything is free with the exception of purchases of food or art.

"I know we'll have 10 artists participating just in the show at Desotorow," Miller said. "With all the businesses participating, we'll probably have 40 to 50 artists and small business owners participating in it."

The event and the gallery are the branches of the newly reorganized Desotorow Inc., said director Clinton Edminster.

"We're trying to put together an online arts newsletter and an artist critiques project, as well as the art march," he said. "We're really working on polishing these projects and getting them expanded."

Desotorow Inc. operates as a bridge between local artists and the community.

"Ever since we moved to Savannah, we've noticed a need for an organization to come to a point and say, 'Hey, guys, we're here to help you out as artists in a creative environment,'" Edminster said.

"We came online with Desotorow about a year ago," he said. "I recently became the director and see the opportunity to have it all come to light, to create more opportunities for artists in Savannah so people can do their art and be paid for it."

The Desotorow Gallery has a long history. "Desotorow was established in 2000 by two SCAD graduate students and was originally located on Oglethorpe Avenue and called Oglethorpe Row Gallery," Edminster said.

"In 2003, it moved to its current location in the Starland District and took on the name Desotorow because it was on De Soto Avenue," he said. "In 2008, it became a 501(c)3 gallery, and now in 2013, we're turning it from a gallery to an arts organization."

The organization will work from Desotorow's established legacy. "Anything that has over 10 years has got some staying power," Edminster said. "We're going to try to take that and turn it into something.

"Our mission is to promote a sustainable economy. It is very important for people to be able to make a living off their art - it is necessary and vital.

"We create opportunities for artists to seek those goals," he said. "We're setting up an infrastructure where people can come in and buy their work."

Response so far has been good. "There are some exciting and engaging gallery shows going on," Edminster said.

"The response has been fantastic and has inspired us to want to do a better job at this," he said. "It's because people want to become engaged in this."


What: First Friday Art March

When: 6-9 p.m. July 5

Where: Spaces between Forsyth Park and Victory Avenue and at Desotorow Inc., 2427 De Soto Avenue

Cost: Free

Info: info@desotorow.org