Local performers and artists get ready to emerge on ArtsWalk
The downtown area will bring together artists and performers to display and sell their artwork from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, May 20, in the 11th annual ArtsWalk.
CREATE Portage County will partner with artists and businesses to promote the local arts scene and pull the artists out of their studios in effort to grow their audience. Pottery, drawing, photography and jewelry are some of the types of art that will be displayed.
More than 40 visual artists and 12 music and dance performances will line Main Street. The artwork is displayed in storefront windows. With more artists and businesses participating, more people come downtown.
“It actually shows off downtown too, so that’s a cool feature of it,” said Greg Wright, executive director of CREATE Portage County. “We think the downtown is really cool here, so it draws people who don’t always spend enough time here.”
This year, the businesses have taken more ownership of the event, meaning more promotion and better collaboration with artists. Many artists have been participating for multiple years, and go through the same business every year, while others find new businesses.
This event is not juried, meaning any artist can participate as long as there is a business partner to show their work. The artist receives 100 percent of the money they earn.
Artists begin setting up Wednesday, May 18, and will be up throughout the weekend, but the event and all the performances will be held Friday, May 20. The art galleries will also showcase local artwork.
“We turn downtown into an art gallery and performance space,” Wright said.
Wright said this is a great way to start the summer and be able to show the great new artwork local artists have been working on. Since it is held in May, weather can be great, and people want to walk around.
ArtsWalk also includes a fundraiser leading up to the main event in order to raise money for CREATE Portage County and the arts and culture around the community. Ford Motor Company will donate $20 for every person with a unique address between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Friday, May 20, during the Drive 4UR Community fundraiser. Cars available for test drives will be located in the parking lot behind The Fox on Main. In the past, Scaffidi Motors has partnered with other organizations raising more than $60,000 for various groups.
Concluding the event will be the Mass Guitar Incident, a tradition in which community members and ArtsWalk attendees are encouraged to join in. The band leaders and songs performed change every year.
The band leaders this year are Chaz ‘n Gerry. Simple guitar songs are picked, to encourage people of all levels to join in playing. This year’s selection includes “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “Big Yellow Taxi” and “Rockin’ in the Free World.” They will start playing at 7:30 p.m. in the Matthais Mitchell Public Square.
The cord sheets and tutorials for these songs, as well as the locations, artists and performers can be found at www.createportagecounty.org/experiences.