Art lovers bear the heat for Art on Easy Street
By Shavonne Potts
The weather was hot, to say the least, but that didn’t stop artists and performers from displaying their talents at the sixth Art on Easy Street Summer Arts Festival.
The event, hosted by the Rowan Arts Council, was so big this year it included vendors in the F&M Bank parking lot adjacent to Easy Street and stretched to Lee Street at the Railwalk Arts District.
Katherine Rivens attends every year with her children, A’Leah, 2, N’Isaiah, 4, and Jaise, 9, because it’s something to get them out of the house and it’s free she said.
The Salisbury resident has been coming for years and loves it.
“I just like that it looks like it’s growing,” she said.
Rivens said she wishes Salisbury had more events like this for children. She also attends Night Out with hers.
“When they have fun, I’m having fun,” she said.
N’Isaiah said he had fun at the craft tables, even though he was hot.
Saturday’s temperatures reached the high 90s. Today isn’t forecast to be much cooler, with a high of 95 degrees.
Concord resident Beth Feeback braved Saturday’s heat to support friend Wendy Talley, who was a part of the Kalima Tribal Bellydance performance.
“I’m really excited. It’s for all shapes and sizes of women. It’s really empowering for women,” Feeback said of the bellydancing.
She stood on the sidelines taking pictures of the performers, who are instructed by local attorney Nancy Gaines.
“I’m a big girl and I’m glad to see my fellow big girls represent,” Feeback said.
This was the first festival for Johnifer Kirkpatrick, of York, S.C. Her booth, Sassy Expressions, was lined with hand-beaded, semi-precious stone and glass jewelry, a creation that she’d only been crafting since January.
Kirkpatrick, who is a seamstress and works in customer service, just thought she could do beading.
“I never took a class,” she said.
She taught herself the techniques after looking at how others made their designs. Her love of mixing colors as a seamstress spills into her mix of colors for jewelry designs.
Kirkpatrick heard about the festival from Eleanor Qadirah, president of the Rowan Blues and Jazz Society.
She already has plans to return for similar events.
Ed Bartlett has turned a family tradition into a family business. Bartlett, of Mocksville, learned woodworking from his grandfather, who was a master carpenter. Now he and his wife, Sharon, create pieces for Wood-N-Things.
Ed has been making wooden toys, games, rocking horses and the like for the past 20 years.
“It’s 100 percent handmade work,” he said.
The couple have traveled from New York to Florida for similar arts events. They’ve gotten into a rhythm. Ed has his tools and other spare pieces behind him and, for days like Saturday, a fan at his side.
The couple sell a lot of rocking horses around Christmas.
When asked if his father did woodworking, Ed chuckled and said no.
“His nickname was Buster because he busted things,” Ed said.
The craft seems to skip generations. His son, who was at the festival, said he did not do woodworking, either.
As a child, Michael Sullivan always drew. Now he’s an art teacher at South Davidson High School in Denton. The Winston-Salem resident heard about the festival online and decided to participate.
Sports is truly his business ó Locker 34 Designs, to be exact. He takes sports cards, tickets and other paper medium and transforms them into a sports card collage.
“All I use are scissors and an Exacto knife,” he said.
Sullivan places the paper down and starts cutting until he’s created a design.
“It’s like putting together a puzzle without the picture,” he said.
His students love it but are not hesitant to be honest if they don’t.
“Kids will not lie to you,” he said.
He came up with the idea when he saw a well-known California artist cutting out license plates in a similar fashion. Sullivan had no intention of cutting up plates, but it did spawn his idea of tickets and cards.
Sullivan also paints realistic and abstract art using charcoal, pastels, acrylics and watercolors.
Like Sullivan, fellow artist Wanda Clark sketched as a child and continued into adulthood.
But it wasn’t until several years ago that she began painting.
“I’m self-taught. In 2000, I just went to Wal-Mart in their art section and bought some paint and canvases,” she said.
She eventually entered some competitions in Mocksville and Statesville, and she won.
Clark, of Mocksville, paints primitive narrative folk art.
She explained that all of her paintings depict life in the South. Some images are reminiscent of her childhood, but they all tell a story.
She infuses her paintings with bright colors such as reds and blues.
It was Clark’s first time at the festival.
She gives her paintings titles like “Mayhem” and “Big Mama.” In the painting, “Big Mama” is at the front door ready to use her switch as one child in the yard pulls up her flowers and the other children are up to more mischief.
At first, Clark was self-conscious of her work. But, the thing about primitive art, she said, is that “it’s not perfect.”
She’s had many of her pieces featured at Diggs Gallery at Winston-Salem State University.
The name of Janie Jones’ business ó Grammy Glass ó was easy to come up with.
“I was a ‘grammy’ before I started playing with fire,” said the grandmother.
Jones, of Charlotte, uses a torch to melt glass, shape it and form pieces for her necklaces, bracelets, rings and other jewelry.
She also teaches lamp work at N.C. State University. It’s a skill she’s passing on to her 12-year-old granddaughter, Jordan Carelock. Jones said all of her children love receiving her finished products, but Jordan actually enjoys making them.
“It’s therapeutic. The whole world disappears,” Jones said.
There were 102 artists participating in this year’s festival.