Every last Thursday of the month, Downtown El Paso (DTEP) becomes a hub for art, food and community. Without the density of businesses in one area, this state of DTEP makes an event like this a bit of a quest. Like a paladin in search of creative treasure, art lovers have to know where to look for art demonstrations and pop-up galleries.
A triad of art and downtown appreciators form the Last Thursdays El Paso committee: Artist Juan Ornelas, business owner Chelsie Melendez-Rivas and Marcos Rey
“[We] breathed life back into what used to be called Last Thursday Art walk, I formed a committee and named it Last Thursdays El Paso because it’s more than just an art walk. We are incorporating boutiques, pubs, and restaurants – everything downtown. Our ultimate goal is to have El Paso “Bring it Downtown” every last Thursday,” said Marcos Rey.
Each month the event has grown, incorporating more attractions, and adding participating businesses. In terms of scale and spectacle the night is modest, however the intimacy of meeting artists, having to work at finding the hidden sweet spots and getting great deals throughout make a monthly trip downtown more than worth it.
Artist, Marcos Rey felt the need to resurrect the event, “My friend and I did the Last Thursday Art walk, which was awesome, and in El Paso! I started inviting people to join and then I was known as the guy that guided people to all the galleries. I met the manager and owner of a local gallery and I started volunteering there and booking art shows with our amazing local artists.”
It is recommended that you check the map on social media (Last Thursdays El Paso on Facebook) each month for an idea on where to go, or take the guided tour starting at the Visitor’s Center in Union Plaza at 6pm. In addition to the guided tour there will be a Pub Crawl starting at the Gray Dog bar on 500 N. Oregon at 6pm. Chuck’s Bicycle Repair is hosting a bike ride as well, starting at the Museum of Art at 7pm.
Chelsie Melendez-Rivas, owner of Union Plaza boutique MANCHOT explains why these walking groups are so crucial, “Guided tours help with participation because you can come alone and join a walking group and enjoy the whole experience.”
When finding local talent for the event, artist and recruiter Juan Ornelas explains the challenges, “It’s actually easy in terms of the pool of talented artists in the area but a lot of times their work schedules don’t coincide with the set-up and take-down schedules, which is really reflective of how local artists have to balance their passion for art and work to make a living.”
The event which started in the Union Plaza and Las Plazas Art District is stretching into other Downtown Districts such as the Office District, “We have added more venues like Craft and Social, Pot Au Feu, and Epic Nightclub to feature artists. So we are going beyond the Union Plaza area into other districts,” said Marcos.
Juan further explains, ”Last Thursday’s continues to grow and for this installment we are happy to be able to add the EPIC Night Club in Pride square which will feature my own art along with the art of Mabel Weber and Harry Schulte. At loft light studio we are also introducing a local photography showcase called Soul City Visions which is also part of our efforts to bring all arts and human endeavors to the event which ultimately aims to bring all El Pasoans to our beautiful and growing downtown.”
With support by Visit El Paso, the Downtown Management District, and participating businesses the event is only picking up steam, “Last Thursdays I think will be a never-ending work in progress because there is so much we can do but it all depends on who is willing to participate, willing to put in the work and who is willing to stick it out with us until its a thriving event,” said Chelsie.
Below is a list of the activity and Specials for participating businesses on Last Thursdays El Paso in DTEP (subject to change):
Union Plaza Disrict
Manchot– 518 W San Antonio – Artist Roman Martinez- 20% off novelty items, Buy 2 shirts get the 3rd half off- Free Mimosas
Dream Chasers Club– 200 S. Santa Fe – Art by the Slice- Pizza Themed Art Exhibits- Buy 2 Tees and get the 3rd Free
Rock House Cafe & Gallery– 400 W. Overland – Artist Eric Angel- Musical Guest Mishael Coss & The Jackpots- Local Vendors
Loft Light Studios– 315 S. El Paso St. – “El Paso” Photography Exhibit
Pop Up Mercado– 518 San Antonio “The Mix”
Pint & Peanuts Public House– 518 San Antonio – Drink Specials
Dark Horse Tavern – 115 Durango St. – Drink Specials
Nudha boutique – 518 San Antonio – 20% Off Jewelry – Free Sangrias
Exploreum– 300 W. San Antonio – FREE Entrance
Visit El Paso Visitor Center – 400 W. San Antonio- Alejandra Ortega
Night Owl Pub – 316 S. Santa Fe – Joe Peterson- $3 Pints
Paso Del Norte Paranormal Society – 108 E. San Antonio- Art after Dark- Heaven and Hell: Jaime Santiago Gonzalez Aragon de Chuco y Que
Las Plazas Art District
El Paso Museum of History– 510 N. Santa Fe – Poetry from Poland: Like a Narcotic – FREE Admission
El Paso Museum of Art– One Arts Festival Plaza – FREE Admission
Gray Dog Pub– 500 N. Oregon – Pub Crawl!
Pot Au Feu– 307 E. Franklin – 2.50 Happy Hour!
Craft and Social– 305 E. Franklin Ave. – Wing Night-.85 cent Wings
EPIC night club – 510 Stanton – Artists Juan Ornelas, Mable Weber & Harry Schulte- Drink specials
The Basement – 201 N. Stanton – Concert Venue
Pedicabs El Paso –Tips (call to schedule tour) 915-443-9934
Guided Tour – Visitor Center – 400 W. San Antonio 6pm (Marcos Rey)
Pub Crawl – Gray Dog – 500 N. Oregon 6pm
Chuck’s Bike Tour – EP Museum of Art – One Arts Festival Plaza 7pm