When Cynthia McBride moved her art gallery to its current location in Annapolis more than two decades ago, she was worried that customers wouldn't be able to find the business.
McBride Gallery, which specializes in classical-style paintings, had relocated to 215 Main St., just a block from its original space. But McBride was so concerned she rallied the owners of other local galleries to put on an art walk to spread the news and showcase their offerings.
"It was a lazy, hazy road at that time," she said with a laugh. "I really was worried."
The event proved so popular that the gallery owners, with McBride at the helm, decided to make the art walk an annual event.
On Thursday, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., more than 20 art galleries in the historic district will participate in the 24th annual Annapolis Art Walk. The galleries, marked with yellow balloons and banners, will feature new exhibits and artists showcasing their skills.
"When you get together all these different gallery owners, each one is going to have a different style that they love," McBride said. "So, visitors will see a very wide range of art."
Melanie Murphy, owner of Annapolis Pottery at 40 State Circle, has participated since the event began. This year, her shop will feature demonstrations by a potter, jeweler and other local artisans, and will feature their works in an exhibit.
"This is a good way to celebrate art in a lot of different forms," she said. "It brings people out to Annapolis to celebrate what makes Annapolis so special."
McBride said the interactive elements of the Annapolis Art Walk are what makes it stand out.
"People aren't just walking around and staring at walls," she said. "They can engage with the artists, talk to them about their work, and they just stay a lot longer."
The art walk is free, and will take place regardless of the weather. There will be light refreshments at the galleries, and local musicians will perform.
A map and full list of participating galleries are available at artinannapolis.com.
Organizers recommend that those driving to the galleries park at the Hillman garage off Main Street, the Gotts Court garage off Calvert Street and Northwest Street or the Knighton garage at Colonial Drive and West Street. Free parking is available after 6 p.m. at the Bladen Street garage near St. Johns Street. The Blue Circulator Trolley, which travels throughout the city, is free and can be hailed for a ride.
Over the years, the Annapolis Art Walk has become an event that area residents look forward to, McBride said.
"It's fun, social," she said. "It's a chance for neighbors to reconnect. People are always asking me when it's coming back."