Music and Dance Will Highlight Wednesday’s ArtWalk in Elkhart

July 14, 2013

As musicians and artists roll out onto the sidewalks of South Main for another ArtWalk on Wednesday, they may very well find a sense of familiarity.

That’s because Wednesday will mark the eighth time organizers have hosted ArtWalk since it began three years ago.

Organizers are feeling pretty good about the festival’s foundation.

“I do think ArtWalk has an established brand now. It has a reputation. It’s evolving. We’re building on it,” said Mike Huber, president of Downtown Elkhart Inc., which oversees the four annual events that stretch from spring to late autumn.

In fact, organizers are hoping part of Wednesday’s activities on Wednesday will help spawn a new, regular downtown event that could grow into its own next year

Wednesday’s theme is “Dancing in the Street,” and there will be an added focus of music and dance — especially at the Civic Plaza where music and a series of dance exhibitions are scheduled during the regular festival hours of 5 to 8 p.m.

The theme continues into the night as organizers behind “Summer Dance Elkhart” kick off as part of ArtWalk with music and dancing from 8 to 10 p.m. Live music will be provided by Whistle Pigs.

Instructors from That’s Dancing Studios will offer free dance lessons beginning at 7:30 p.m. and owner-instructor Sally Lee hopes to build on the energy and interaction when Whistle Pigs begin to play.

A new black-and-white checkered dance floor will be set up on the plaza.

Having a live band play until 10 p.m. is an effort to stretch the fun into the night and something organizers decided to try after they heard some people suggest activities at past ArtWalks ended too early in the evening, Huber said.

Summer Dance Elkhart is an attempt to start a series of outdoor public dance events and Wednesday will be the first of four scheduled events.

The next two Summer Dance events will be on Friday nights. On Aug. 16, Truth In Jazz will provide music and instructors will highlight the foxtrot. On Sept. 20, the Elwood Splinter Blues Band will perform and west coast swing will be the featured dance.

On Oct. 2, Summer Dance Elkhart will once again be combined with ArtWalk and feature salsa dance with music from Rica Obsession Orchestra.

As for Wednesday’s event, the festival will once again feature about 20 artists and 17 musicians located along South Main Street from 5 to 8 p.m.

Huber said he’s pleased and takes pride in the fact that merchants seem to be embracing and sometimes even coordinating involvement in ArtWalk.

An example of that, Huber said, is Elegant Designs, 620 S. Main, which will feature gowns being modeled live outside the store. Champagne tasting is planned for inside.

The festival will also pay tribute to the Partly Dave Coffeehouse, a well-known hub of a grass roots art, music and expression in downtown Elkhart from 1966 to the early 1970s.

“Partly Dave really did bring a lot of arts to the downtown and, for a period of years, was the only arts component to the downtown” Huber said. “This will pay homage to that.”

A collection of artifacts, photos and remembrances will be on display at The Daily Grind, 113 E. Lexington Ave.

The festival now has a headquarters at 503 S. Main St. The ArtWalk Studios include the work of five local artists, but also serves as a information outlet for the festival. Maps and ballots will be available and Home Brew It will be offering samples of its wine and root beer.

Spectators are encouraged to vote for their favorite artist. Ballots need to be turned in to the ArtWalk Studios. Cash prize for the “People’s Choice” is $200.

Representatives of SoMa, the city’s downtown revitalization effort, will once again have a role in ArtWalk.

In May, SoMa sought public input on some of its many plans aimed at enhancing the downtown. On Wednesday, they’ll release results of the survey in the lobby of Lerner Theatre and also seek more input with a series of follow-up questions. SoMa and the city will also host an open house at 229 State St, which is for sale. The house has been totally renovated, according to Crystal Welsh, director of community development.

Ceramic art will be highlighted at Wednesday’s Artwalk. Here are four ceramic artists being featured:

• Fort Wayne artist Joseph Pelka will showcase intricate “pop art” including wall-mounted pieces and classic Asian vessels at Faces of Art, 522 S. Main St.

• New Carlisle art store owner Steven Skinner will display earthy, wood-fired tableware and other works at Forever-in-the-Day, 127 E. Lexington Ave..

• Goshen clay artist Todd Pletcher will feature his compelling variations on ancient forms with glossy glazes at Designs by Michael, 126 S. Main St.

• South Bend Museum of Art resident artist Kari Black’s masterpieces at The Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce lobby, 418 S. Main St.