Creating Culture: The Strongest Link

Connection is where it’s at — in the home, our neighborhoods, at school and work, and at Frontdoors, where we illuminate organizations and unsung heroes in our community.

Shining bright in the unsung heroes’ space for more than 33 years is a nonprofit that personifies connection as the heart of its mission. Artlink has been instrumental in Arizona for creating links between artists, businesses and the community.

Artlink Inc. was created when a group of artists organized Art Detour, Phoenix’s original art walk, in downtown Phoenix. The organizers recognized the positive synergy between artists and the community and knew they were onto something with the event. Soon after, a board of directors and a list of community partners assembled and, voilà!, Artlink was established in 1989.

Various components of Artlink make it a valuable resource and “destination” for not only artists but businesses in the Valley by providing easy access to the art world — connecting creative industries with Valley organizations — and developing dynamic relationships while ensuring the arts are accessible and visible in the community.

At the heart of the nonprofit is the Artlink directory, a database connecting more than 1,000 artists and businesses. Registration is free for all “articipants” and it masterfully links local working artists with galleries, cultural venues, arts-supporting businesses and more, promoting  collaboration and opportunity while strategically keeping work local for Arizona artists.

Once an artist or business is registered as an “articipant,” they are invited to promote events through the organization’s real-time calendar, communicate opportunities to submit or share, list calls for artists, commissions, educational opportunities and more. This valuable resource has resulted in solid relationships through the years, underscoring the nonprofit’s mission: keeping the arts integral to the city’s development by connecting artists, businesses and the community.

Becoming an articipant is just one of the benefits the nonprofit offers. While the directory opens the door to priceless relationships, Artlink’s myriad services provide inclusive and diverse possibilities for further connection.

Artlink’s Annual Juried Exhibition — one of the largest art exhibitions in Arizona each year — is revered as one of the organization’s signature events. The purpose of the Annual Juried Exhibition is to showcase Arizona’s creativity. It begins with a call for entries prior to the exhibition, where emerging and established artists from across the state are invited to submit works from an inclusive list of disciplines, including painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, printmaking, video art, fiber art, performance art and fashion design.

A jury panel selects excellent work to celebrate the diverse talent of Arizona artists. The top three works are awarded monetary prizes up to $5,000. The exhibition is open to the public and provides a glimpse into how art professionals view works of art.

“Artlink is unique because of its multifaceted capabilities,” said Catrina Kahler (pictured right), president and CEO of Artlink. “The Annual Juried Exhibition is one of the more dynamic events of our organization. It marks a moment in time that allows us to recognize the ecosystem of the arts community, providing an appreciation of varying levels of artistry and talent, contributing to a broader conversation of the arts in Arizona.”

With more than three decades of history, Artlink has evolved to keep connection paramount for the organization. Programs and events dig deep into culture and development, partnerships, diversity and more, further exemplifying Artlink’s commitment to supporting its comprehensive mission.

Artlink’s purpose-driven events, including the iconic First Fridays art walk — which has grown to become one of the largest monthly art walks in the United States — and the famed Art d’Core Gala keep the arts front and center in Arizona. Partnerships with companies around the state and donations from individuals are instrumental in Artlink’s success, making programs, initiatives and events possible.

For more information on Artlink’s offerings, visit 


About Zenobia Mertel

Zenobia Mertel is Frontdoors Magazine’s Lifestyle Editor and covers a mix of Arts and Culture topics for the media company. She also works as an on-air host and columnist for Inspired Media 360, focusing on people, places, life and style.

From Frontdoors Magazine

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