August 31, 2013 11:51:03 PM
Jan Swoope - firstname.lastname@example.org
A buzz of anticipation is building in downtown Columbus as final preparations are made for a brand new event. The Downtown Columbus Art Walk Thursday, Sept. 5 will showcase more than 30 visual artists in 19 participating businesses from 5-7 p.m. To add to the festive atmosphere, local musicians will perform on the street.
"Shopping after hours, local artists everywhere and live music on the sidewalks -- we're expecting a fun time," said Barbara Bigelow, director of Main Street Columbus, which has partnered with the Columbus Arts Council to organize the event.
Participating merchants will feature a variety of artists showing a unique blend of paintings, hand-crafted jewelry, pottery, photography, floral design and more. Pairings cards to show which artists are in which stores will be available at each business.
Shop owners like Susan Mackay, of Party and Paper on Fifth Street South, are enthusiastic about the inaugural Art Walk. She will host artist Frances Hairston in the store.
"We're excited about this new event with Main Street Columbus and the Columbus Arts Council. It's been done in several other towns and been very successful," said Mackay, who will debut a new Mississippi Made room Thursday. "It's a great way to draw people downtown and kick off the season."
As an interior designer, Penny Bowen of Bella Interiors considered participation a "no brainer."
"I really hope it's at least an annual event," said Bowen, who also serves on the Main Street Columbus Board of Directors. Her business on College Street will feature artwork by Laurenda Richardson, Deborah Mansfield and Dustin Hedrick.
Americorps VISTA volunteers Melissa Duncan, working in the Main Street Columbus office, and Aislinn Noltie, with the Columbus Arts Council, have handled much of the advance planning for the artistic evening ahead.
Duncan remarked, "Coordinating this first Art Walk has been very enjoyable. I've loved working with the merchants to put it together. I know businesses, artists and musicians have put a lot into making this a great night."
Jewelry maker Melody Vydas will be at The Bride and Groom on Fifth Street South. She participated in an April art walk in West Point and is eager for Columbus to host one.
"This will be our maiden voyage, to do one here, and we hope everyone will be happy with it. It promotes not just the artists and shops but the area as well," said Vydas. "It forms another connection with people who may not otherwise have been connected."
Noltie, at the Columbus Arts Council, hopes the community will turn out in support, to encourage similar events in the future. Noltie is also assisting with the Arts Council's opening of a show by late Mississippi watercolorist Tom Cochran (Cochran Art Limited) and a reception Thursday from 5:30-7 p.m. at the Rosenzweig Arts Center.
Sept. 5 offers a banner evening in Columbus, with the dedication of a monument and new mural at Catfish Alley (Fourth Street South and Main Street) from 4:30-5 p.m., Art Walk festivities from 5-7 p.m., and the Tennessee Williams Tribute's "Autumn Song" at 7:30 p.m. at Mississippi University for Women's Poindexter Hall.
"Invite your friends, come for the dedication, check out area artists, peruse 19 of our fabulous downtown stores, enjoy the music and end with a wonderful meal in one of our great restaurants, or at the Tennessee Williams Tribute 'Autumn Song' at Poindexter," urged Bigelow. "There will be plenty to do!"
For more information, contact Main Street Columbus, 662-328-6305, or the Arts Council, 662-328-2787.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.