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Artisans Appreciate Bringing Art to Public Spaces

Paintings, sculptures and everything in between were on display during the two-day Art Walk held in downtown Washington.

While the participating artists say they are grateful for the chance to sell their wares to buyers, they are even more grateful for the opportunity to showcase different types of art to the public.

For Sandra Mays, of Villa Ridge, that meant bringing her cheerfully colored paintings to downtown Washington and inside Loyal Bella, 120 Elm St.

“Art is in our lives every day and in every way. We, as artists, see it, but sometimes other people don’t see it,” said Mays, a first-time Art Walk participant, who added that she has been inspired in the past by a particular cloud formation, the pattern on the floor tile, by a fabric pattern or simply an emotion she is feeling.

Mays was one of seven artists who participated in the biannual Art Walk Oct. 16-17, which featured artists manning their own galleries, creating temporary displays in downtown Washington businesses and installing artistic displays on sidewalks.

One of the artists setting up a display on a sidewalk was Timothy Wagner, of Defiance, who is a classically trained mixed media artist with degrees from Webster University and Fontbonne University.

“I will reclaim any material, whether that is a block of wood, a vinyl record, some paper or a canvas, to create an image,” Wagner said. His display, which was located outside of Vintage Trader, 204 Elm St., included vinyl records that had been repurposed with splashes of color, animal prints and other imagery.

Wagner said this was his first time participating in an Art Walk in Washington, and he thought the event was a success.

“For people who maybe don’t get a chance to go physically see 18th- and 19th-century artists in a museum or get to go to an art gallery, this is a very beneficial way for them to be exposed to art. For them to be able to see a living artist, maybe see how the artist creates, and for them to see an artist who can talk to them, answer their questions,” Wagner said.

He added that he appreciated how Art Walk was kept in-person and not moved online to a virtual format due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You can see almost any artist’s work online, but you can’t go out and pick it up online. You can’t step back and admire it online. You can’t touch it or see its texture online. Those are only things that you can do in person,” Wagner said.

Across town at the Shattered Glass Designs, Wendy Smith-Moore and Ashley Harp had a variety of glass art items on display in the gallery, which is located at 1170 W. Fifth St.

Smith-Moore said several new faces had come into the gallery during this past weekend’s event.

“We’ve had a really good flow of people in all weekend,” Smith-Moore said on Saturday. Some of those coming into the gallery made purchases, while others signed up to participate in future classes at the gallery.

“I think this weekend is so important for a couple of reasons. If the people who come into the gallery are able to glean anything from something that we have here or something that one of the other artists have in their galleries, it is that art adds so much to our lives, it opens up so many new fields in their personal lives, and that people need to be creative,” said Smith-Moore, who has taught art for 30 years, including teaching at St. Ignatius School.

“And when people create art, take me for example, I am not very good at stained glass, but I am good at taking broken glass pieces and making them into a picture,” Smith-Moore said. “We all have our strengths and art helps us appreciate them.”

Mays echoed Smith-Moore, adding, “As an artist, you have an extreme appreciation for what other artists create and for what comes forth from them in their art. Life is difficult enough, but art has the ability to lift us up.”

Other artists participating in Art Walk were Jim Peters, watercolorist; Andy McCoy, metal artist; and Russell Irwin, paper mosaic. Art students from Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Francis Borgia schools also had art on display.

The event was sponsored by the Division of Tourism of the Washington Area Chamber of Commerce. Proceeds from the donation jars, which were available at each of the artist’s locations, will benefit Grace’s Place, a Washington-based licensed emergency shelter for children and youth.


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