Arts Walk strides into Middlebury

MIDDLEBURY — The third annual Middlebury Arts Walk kicks off this Friday, May 13, with an initial emphasis on student art that will be found at more than 40 participating businesses.
The Middlebury Arts Walk, coordinated by the town’s ArtsConnect Committee, is a program through which local artists’ work is displayed at local stores on the second Friday of each month through October. On those designated Fridays between 5 and 7 p.m., downtown Middlebury will become a center for art that will include music, food and fun.
In its first two years Middlebury Arts Walk has proven to be an effective way of showcasing the county’s artists while steering more customer traffic through downtown Middlebury’s shops during the early evening — a time at which many local stores have traditionally been closed.
“It gets people in the door,” said Sue Hoxie, director of marketing and communications for the Addison County Chamber of Commerce. “It is an opportunity to get people downtown and also get some culture.”
For this first month of Arts Walk 2011, participants will get a chance to see a great crop of student art. That’s because the Addison Central Supervisory Union is marking May with “Spring Into The Arts,” a celebration of student art covering grades K-12. Many of the participating Arts Walk businesses will be receiving multiple pieces of student art for display.
Hoxie anticipates around 20 Middlebury Union High School artists will be sharing their work, along with dozens more from ACSU elementary schools.
Indeed, downtown Middlebury will be “arts central” on May 13. In addition to it being the first day of the Arts Walk, the Town Hall Theater that evening will be hosting the annual Hospice Volunteer Services “Not-Just Art Auction” (See story, Page 10).
The venues will, of course, also feature art from seasoned artists. Among them will be Middlebury’s David Bumbeck, who is donating one of his etchings, titled “Homage,” to help defray some of the costs of putting on Arts Walk. Otter Creek Custom Framing is providing free framing for the Bumbeck piece, valued at $1,250. Raffle tickets to acquire the piece may be purchased for $5 each, or five for $20, at Otter Creek Custom Framing at 3 Park St.
Jean Cherouny, a lead organizer of the Arts Walk, is pleased with how the event has played out over its first two years. She is also excited about this year’s collaboration with Spring Into The Arts, a partnership she believes will broaden interest in the Arts Walk.
“As a result, there are a few more venues for this Arts Walk,” said Cherouny, an artist in her own right. “This year, we are hoping to bring in a lot of parents.”
“The businesses have been so fun to work with, because they look forward to having the art to incorporate into their stores,” Cherouny added.
As usual, the majority of the art on display — including students’ work — will be for sale. Cherouny noted a lot of artwork has been sold through the Arts Walk during its first two years. And the wares won’t be confined to paintings. Arts Walk will also feature photography, jewelry, sculpture, pottery, fiber arts and food arts. Some of the venues and neighboring parks will feature art demonstrations, dance, music, singing, drama, poetry and readings.
Cherouny said the Arts Walk could help brand Middlebury as an arts hub.
“People are looking forward to the Arts Walk every year; it’s a huge success,” Cherouny said. “I believe this is part of the reality of more artists choosing to live here and artists wanting to sell their work here.
“It’s really fun to be part of a sort of ‘eco-center’ for art,” Cherouny added. “You feel like you can grow into that and talk to people, create ideas, create new visions for Middlebury.”
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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