Community Painting, Dance Lessons and Live Music Featured in Elkhart ArtWalk

October 02, 2013

When the stars started coming out, the lights flickered and came on, the music kept going, and the crowds stayed Wednesday night in downtown Elkhart.

Elkhart’s third ArtWalk of the year went from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 2, and featured photo and painting galleries, food and live music.

On the north side of the Civic Plaza, people lined up to have artist Francisco Avila paint their hands purple and add handprints on a canvas in exchange for a donation to help pay Sarah Crane’s medical bills.

Sarah, 15, has been fighting stage 4 colon cancer since July, and in the last week of September she was told the cancer had spread to other organs.

Thousands have shown their support, buying shirts and organizing fundraisers for the Crane family.

Ranee Robinson, an administrative assistant at the Lerner Theatre and the community art project coordinator for ArtWalk, said the goal was to paint the canvas purple, Sarah’s favorite color. The canvas and donations will go to the Crane family.

Sarah’s story, with which Robinson was familiar from the beginning because Sarah’s grandmother works at the theatre, has reached thousands, and not only on a local level.

“It’s beyond Elkhart. It’s beyond one girl with cancer,” she said. “And Sarah, her strength to continue to fight for the cause, just amazes all of us.”

Across the street from the Civic Plaza, a steady stream of people stopped and looked at paintings and jewelry crafted by ADEC clients.

Kristen Hall, development officer at ADEC, said this was the second time the organization had an open house for people to stop by and look at the artwork.

The last hour of ArtWalk drew crowds to the plaza, where Studio Viva dance instructor Dora Baroti taught salsa dance lessons.

Shortly after 8 p.m., Chicago salsa orchestra Rica Obsesion started playing at an outdoor stage at the plaza.

Sally Lee, owner of That’s Dancing dance studio in Elkhart, contacted the orchestra after she heard of them while looking at the Chicago Summer Dance events of this year.

The salsa lesson was the fourth event the studio held this summer, and Lee said all four were successful in bringing the crowds.

“We love the fact that the community has embraced it, and that Downtown Elkhart Inc. wants to make it one of their regular events,” Lee said. “And the crowd is respectful and appreciative, and we love that as well.”