The biennial art walk in downtown Washington was a hit with some out-of-town visitors, who marveled at the creative and colorful works on display.
Cindy Crow, who was walking between artists-welcoming stores on Saturday with her husband, Tom, was impressed with the variety of art available, from paintings and photography to glassware and pottery. They like to visit Washington from Blue Springs, near Kansas City.
âMuch of it is very affordable and available to everyone,â Cindy Crow said. “I wish there were other communities doing things like this to keep the vitality in the community and get people to come there.”
The artistic march on Friday and Saturday brought together 14 professional artists, as well as students from the Notre-Dame de Lourdes school, exhibiting their work in seven companies. Some of the artists stayed true to the store’s traditional theme, such as Amanda Copling, of Washington, and Bert VanderMark, of Wildwood, both of whom featured their animal portraits in Loyal Bella Co., an animal supply store at 120 Elm St.
VanderMark, who taught graphic design and illustration at Washington University in St. Louis and Webster University, began painting portraits of pets during COVID-19 closures, a- he declared. He now works on command using a variety of methods for people who send him photos of their pets. Most of his pieces are 11 inches by 14 inches, which costs $ 195, but the 18 x 24 inch paintings can sell for up to $ 395.
VanderMark will even put two animals together in one photo if people submit multiple photos.
âA lot of people want their two dogs together,â he said.
VanderMark finds Washington to be a great city for art. He visited the area two weeks ago for the Fall Arts and Crafts Festival. âThey do so much for artists,â he said. âIt’s very welcoming. It’s a great exhibition for artists.
VanderMark was born in the Netherlands and trained for five years in a program at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague before coming to study in the United States over 40 years ago.
But he sees himself more as a “practical” person who wants art to be affordable. âIt’s fun giving back to the community, seeing how well people connect at work,â he said. “For me, it’s just fun having art available to normal everyday people.”
Loyal Bella owner Jill Liebrum welcomed artists to her store for the second year. Although the artists were sent to her by event organizer JoAnn McCoy, she knows it will be a good experience. âIt’s fun talking to people,â she says. âIt’s nice to see art in normal everyday life. “
McCoy, owner of Room For Art gallery, 124 W. Main St., has hosted seven artists for Art Walk, although some, like his father Jim Peters, are regularly based there.
Art Walk was started by an art professor at East Central College and then picked up by the Arts Council of Washington. McCoy, an Art Walk volunteer since its inception over a decade ago, decided to continue. She said it gives artists a chance to show off their work even if they can’t attend one of the bigger events.
âIt’s an advantage to help artists who haven’t attended a lot of shows and festivals,â she said.
Gene Huebner, of Union, exhibited his paintings and handmade clocks at The Pot Shop, a pottery company at 111 Elm St. Huebner, who describes his work as being between contemporary and traditional, said Washington is a little more upscale than many communities, which help support the arts.
âWe don’t really have events like this in downtown Union,â said Huebner, who was on his second Art Walk. “I know they’re trying to get things done.”