Walk allows artists to strut their stuff

By Tom Joyce

April 12, 2014

Many people were appreciative of the spring weather that brought blue skies and warm temperatures to Mount Airy Saturday, when conditions were made even more beautiful by a downtown art walk.

The third-annual event included participation by more than 60 area artists, who displayed examples of their creativity — and in some cases demonstrated it — at 43 listed venues stretching from the Gertrude Smith House to the Surry Arts Council complex.

Their list of talents included painting, sculpture, ceramics, photography, crafts, culinary arts, pottery and other mediums.

The idea behind the annual art walk is to provide a cultural experience for local residents and visitors to Mount Airy, while also supporting the area arts community.

Many of the artists took up temporary residence inside downtown businesses during the seven-hour event, while others — such as jewelry maker Melva Houston, also a local singer — were positioned along the sidewalk to meet the public.

Most brought along examples of their work for sale, with some also showcasing their abilities.

But an artist outside Leon’s Burger Express, Nic Payne of Cana, Va., tweaked that a little by giving away his watercolor and spray-paint creations for free to interested passersby, who seemed eager to accept them.

The painter in his early 20s explained that this was part of a plan for his artwork to “just get it out there” into the hands of the people.

Payne, who was participating in the art walk for the second-straight year, praised the event for providing artists a vehicle to gain such exposure — which he said also benefits downtown Mount Airy.

“It’s really good to have a place to come,” he said of the ability to reach a mass audience. “It’s really good for artists.”

The art walk supplies a boost for those in general, Payne added. “It’s a good opportunity for new artists as well.”

While Payne has been painting for years, he took up watercolors only about three weeks ago. “I’ve done it for a long time,” he said of his artwork,” and just starting to try new things.”

But that relative inexperience was not apparent in the public’s acceptance of his free watercolor creations, a gift some people responded to by placing donations in a small container at Payne’s station.

“They like the animals and lots of color,” he said of the favored selections among his offerings.

Foot traffic seemed steady up and down North Main Street during the art walk as downtown visitors sampled the various creations.

“The work is beautiful,” Teresa Martin said while strolling along the south end of the street. “There’s very talented people involved.”

Dean Brown, a city councilman who has a keen appreciation for art, also was among those enjoying Saturday’s walk. He believes it has a bright future if organizers stay the course and allow the art walk to grow.

“I think it’s a great event and I think if they will keep it up, it will develop into something really big for our city,” Brown said.

“I talked to some people who came up here from Statesville to see it, and some local people you don’t normally see on the streets.”

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-719-1924 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.