Take a Walk and See the Art Wednesday in Downtown Elkhart

May 13, 2013

Participating in public art shows isn’t just about trying to sell your wares.

Just ask Elizabeth Wamsley and Eileen Welch.

The ceramic artists met last year at an ArtWalk event and got along so well they started collaborating and working together at Welch’s store, Faces of Art, 522 S. Main St.

These days, some of Wamsley’s work sits on the display shelves in Welch’s store, which Welch and her husband opened a year ago.

Wamsley returns again this week for ArtWalk and her work will be featured at Faces of Art from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 15.

A year after opening, Welch said she’s pleased with how the store’s collection has grown.

The collaboration between Welch and Wamsley is fairly simple.

Welch said Wamsley is better at “throwing” and shaping the clay while she prefers to add paint and glaze to the work.

“Since I’m relatively newish ... it’s nice to be in a community and start to know people,” Wamsley said Monday, May 13, as the two women continued to get ready for Wednesday.

“When you meet somebody who’s in your field, it’s nice to have that contact,” she said. “It makes it a little more interesting.”

The artists are excited about the large number of participants in Wednesday’s event and the chances for further collaboration as ArtWalk begins it third year.

Wednesday will be the first of four ArtWalk events this year.

Organizers will feature 21 artists and nine musical entertainers along South Main Street in the downtown business district.

“I think we’ve got a fantastic ArtWalk lined up,” said Mike Huber, president of Downtown Elkhart Inc., which sponsors the arts festival.

Joining ArtWalk this year is ArtWalk Studios, 503 S. Main St., an art gallery and unofficial headquarters for the event.

The studio is being supported with money from the city redevelopment commission to cover the first six months of rent in hopes the gallery gains some traction.

The effort by the city has been greeted with enthusiasm from local artists.

“That kind of movement in towns is really important to keep the arts going,” Wamsley said.

Along with art and musical entertainment, Wednesday’s event will serve as a chance for the community to see the long-term revitalization plan for downtown Elkhart that has been assembled by SoMa — which recently revised its acronym to stand for “Supporting Our Main Assets.”

SoMa unveil its draft plan from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Lerner Theatre in what is being billed as the SoMa Expo.

The draft plan will outline revitalization plans and will be seeking public input through a survey.

At 8 p.m., music fans can get a warm-up for next month’s Jazz Festival with a showing of “Chops,” the 2007 documentary that looks at the intense competition at the annual “Essentially Ellington” High School Jazz Band Festival hosted by Jazz at Lincoln Center and its artistic directory, Wynton Marsalis.

Marsalis will be one of the featured entertainers at this year’s Jazz Festival.

Admission to the movie is free.

Artists will be competing for prizes and those surveying the works will have a chance to vote.

A community art project is also planned at the Civic Plaza.

ArtWalk will feature a wide variety of artists and different mediums. The following are short profiles of the some of the more experienced artists:

ELIZABETH WAMSLEY: Ceramic artist — will be featured at Faces of Art, 522 S. Main St.

Wamsley studied ceramics and fine art at Indiana University, Bloomington, and has a bachelor of fine arts in clay. She worked and produced ceramic art in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, Calif., for more than 25 years. She served as president of the American Ceramic Society-SoCA-Design Chapter for two years. Since moving to Syracuse, Ind., she has had numerous awards and gallery exhibits. She had two purchase awards from the Midwest Museum of American Art, Best of Show at the Whitley County Art Show and Best of Show from the “Taste of the Gardens” Art Show at Wellfield Botanic Gardens.

JOHN MISHLER: Sculptor — will be featured in Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce lobby, 418 S. Main St.

Mishler received his bachelor of arts degree in art from Goshen College and a masters in fine arts from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He’s a nationally renowned sculptor and specializes in the use of the common metals including aluminum, copper, steel and stainless steel to create abstract and symbolic works of art. Mishler’s outdoor pieces incorporate kinetic energy and have moving parts that turn with the wind. The “moving sculptures” have become Mishler’s trademark and his work can be seen at corporate collections including ESPN Zone in Chicago. Five commissioned public art sculptures of his are in Elkhart County including two (“Jazz Parade” and “River Passage”) that were commissioned by the City of Elkhart.

BOB CROSS: Painter — will be featured at Elk River Upcycle/ n. wirt design, 205 S. Main St.

Cross is a graduate of Atlanta College of Art (bachelor of arts in sculpture) and a received a masters in fine arts in painting from Ohio University. Cross approaches painting in a very dramatic and textural way. His experience as a master printer with Tyler Graphics in New York City brought him in direct and influential contact with the Who’s Who in American Contemporary Art: Hockney, Frankenthaler, Lichtenstein, Sendak and many others. His work has been featured in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian Institute, Scripps-Howard corporate headquarters, Champion International and many others. Locally, he has worked on mural restoration and installation, historic house interiors and architectural finishes.