painting

A watercolor by Caryl A. Brown on exhibit at LIV Sotheby’s International Realty tonight during ArtWalk. (Courtesy photo)

They call it a festive celebration of the arts, and doesn’t that sound a little like what you might expect to see onscreen this weekend, at the 48th annual Telluride Film Festival?

In fact, all shows are not of the cinematic variety in the box canyon — not when ArtWalk is in town.

Telluride’s First Thursday ArtWalk takes place once a month. Its opening tonight, which dovetails with the Telluride Film Festival’s debut, is a happy coincidence for those who savor art in all its forms, offering a chance to sample new exhibits at participating galleries at your leisure (the exhibits will remain up all weekend long, so you can drop by again and again).

That’s a good thing, because — rather like the great array of screenings and chats that will unfold in the box canyon over the next few days — there are too many ArtWalk exhibits to take in in a single night.

A total of 22 venues — from the Ah Haa School, in its gleaming new space at the Silver Jack Building, to the venerable Wilkinson Public Library on Pacific Avenue — will host ArtWalk receptions this evening. Visit telluridearts.org for a complete list of what’s showing, or, if you prefer a more relaxed approach, just head downtown shortly before dusk, and keep an eye out for the black-and-white flags that will hang outside participating venues (heads up: not all are art galleries) from 5 p.m. on.

Some exhibits, like the group show, “Then & Now” at the Telluride Gallery of Fine Art, pack an emotional wallop. The works document civil rights marches and movements from 1958-65 (in photos by Dan Budnik) and just last year (in images by Sheila Pree Bright). Painted and printed pieces by Lezley and Alison Saar are also on exhibit here. Nor does “Then & Now” limit itself to presentations on canvas: You’ll find a short film and poetry by Sheila Pree Bright here as well.

“We’re calling this our listening show,” gallery owner Ashley Hayward said. “Our visitors are reliving a lot of experiences” through these images, “and we’ve learned so much through their powerful and moving recollectinos. I recommend lingering, so you can experience this for yourself.”

At Slate Gray Gallery, an exhibit of paintings by Fran J. Nagy — “the last descendant in her family who carries any physical trace of her Native American ancestry” — is concerned with complex relationships “between Native Americans, U.S. history and contemporary culture” in “1000 Mile Journey.”

For a different take on culture in the Western U.S., drop by “Outlaw Disco” at MiXX projects + atelier, where themes of “Western Americana, portraiture and Pop Art” play out in new pieces by “Lichtenstein-inspired” painter and wood worker Mitch McGee, “Pop Western phenom” Kevin Chupik and portraitist Paul Morin.

Painter and “outdoor adventurer” Caryl A. Brown depicts external, alpine landscapes through watercolors at LIV Sotheby’s International Realty, and Nancy Jean Guerrero focuses on a stormy internal landscape — “magical narratives to process my anxieties,” as she puts it — in “The Body Electric” at Telluride Arts HQ Gallery.

“Between the exhibits at the Telluride Gallery of Fine Art and Slate Gray,” you might say there’s a bit of an art-and-activism theme to ArtWalk this month, Telluride Arts’ programs manager Evan Tueller says. There will be one final ArtWalk event this season, on October 7, she added. “After that, we’ll take a brief break. We’ll be back in December.”