LEWISBURG — Organizers had to give up their annual Arts Festival, but the Lewisburg Arts Council wanted to go ahead with the town’s Stroll Through the Arts. The question was, how? The answer: only with the cooperation of downtown businesses and local artists.
With social distancing safety measures in mind, the Lewisburg Stroll Through the Arts has expanded to nine days—starting at noon this Saturday and ending Nov. 15.
“We knew going into the planning stages that we would have to make modifications to the event,” said Della Hutchison, chairperson of the Stroll. “I spoke with a number of business owners about their concerns. Their input was crucial to our decision-making.”
Businesses helped plan the timing of the stroll and brainstormed solutions to obstacles, particularly concerning keeping shoppers and store owners safe from COVID exposure.
“Most important was their willingness to allow artists to display their work in store windows so the work could be safely viewed from outside,” Hutchison said. “We are mindful of the fact that, in early November, many shops are already starting to create their holiday windows to draw customers inside. So, the business owners’ willingness to delay or diminish the size of their own holiday displays — in order to make room for the artists’ work — is huge.”
More than 50 artists are represented at 25 “Stroll Stops.” From the Packwood House Museum on Water Street (near the bridge) to the Bull Run Tap House on Sixth and Market Streets (near the Hufnagle Park), guests can feast their eyes on everything from ceramics, textiles and wood, to etchings, paintings and photographs. Revel in fine arts, historic arts and edible arts throughout the downtown.
This year, shoppers can scan QR codes that take them to the artist’s website, Etsy shop, social media page or a video created for the stroll.
“Personalized posters will provide information about the artists whose work is on display,” according to a press release. “Scan a poster’s QR code with your phone to connect with an artist whose work inspires you.”
With the exception of three contributors (Jim Reid, Ben Stieler, and Silky Shoemaker), artwork will be available for sale, in most cases by contacting the artist directly.
Host businesses selling artists’ work include Natalie Logan’s decorated cookies at Farmhouse Fancy; Margaret Wilson’s botanical art notecards at Wolf’s Jewelry, Peggy Walker’s oil paintings at Purity Candy, and Ann Miller’s fabric creations at Black Dog Jewelers.
All artists and activities will be marked on a customized Google map, posted on the Lewisburg Arts Council website and Facebook page.
Some of the participating businesses are longtime supporters of the Stroll, Hutchison said, pointing out that The Open Door, for example, has participated in every single Stroll, since the first one 21 years ago.
“We are so grateful to the downtown businesses for making it possible to hold the Stroll,” she said. “Because without their support, this event simply couldn’t happen.”
She is particularly grateful because the businesses receive no remuneration; they do not charge artists a fee or commission to host their work. With visitors not needing to enter the business to view the artwork, businesses will probably not see a big increase in their own sales in return for hosting an artist. Hutchison urged Stroll visitors to show participating business some appreciation.
“Give them a shout-out on social media (theirs, yours, or both), stop in for a quick thumbs-up, whatever,” she said. “And, if you do stop in, be sure to pick up your Holiday Shopping Pass, in preparation for ‘Shop Small,’ Nov. 27 and 28.”
Art in action
Guests at the Stroll can pause to watch art in action as plein air painters work on creations in front of the Campus Theatre. On Saturday, 11:30 a.m. till dusk, illustrator Bill Wiist will be working on an oil painting “of the view under the marquee of Market Street incorporating at least one iconic movie star into the scene.” Lewisburg artist Bobby Gorby will take over on Sunday and also next Saturday, Nov. 14.
“Stop by and watch a masterpiece in the making,” said a press release.
“If the weather cooperates, muralist Jim Reid hopes to continue working on his mural at the rear of All-Star Bagels (on Market Street),” Hutchison said.
In addition to the 25 Stroll Stops will be four art exhibits, one at each end of Market Street and two near the center.
“Someone who wants to spend the entire day enjoying art can easily do so by visiting all 25 stops from one end of downtown to the other,” Hutchison said. “But someone with limited time or limited mobility can still get a taste of styles and techniques and media by popping into the Susquehanna Art Society’s Members Show and Sale at the Packwood House Museum, 15 North Water St. or by visiting the gallery of work by ten members of the Farmland Preservation Artists of Central Pennsylvania on display at The Bull Run Tap House, 605 Market.”
Near the center of town the Lewisburg Deli will host artwork created by Lewisburg Area High School art students. A block away, at the Samek Downtown Gallery, guests can see the work of nationally-known local artist, Neil Anderson, with some paintings that have never been exhibited before.
“No matter whether the work was created by an amateur or a professional, every single piece of art in the Stroll is home-grown,” Hutchison said.
‘Parents’ Night Out’
The Lewisburg Children’s Museum hasn’t forgotten their traditional “Parents’ Night Out” event during the Stroll, and while pandemic restrictions make that gathering tricky, the museum has come up with a backup plan: free, take-home art kits. Starting at noon on Saturday, November 7, people can stop by one of the participating businesses listed on the Arts Council’s website and Facebook page to pick up a kit, while supplies last.
Hutchison thanked the Lewisburg Arts Council’s members, whose financial support has made this event possible. Interested people are always welcome to join.
For more information on the Stroll Through the Arts or contact information for participating artists, visit “Lewisburg Arts Council” on Facebook or www.lewisburgartscouncil.com
Cindy O. Herman lives in Snyder County. Email comments to her at CindyOHerman@gmail.com