Arts Council dedicates event to Zimmerman

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 14, 2011

By Mark Wineka
SALISBURY — In spirit, Joan Zimmerman was here.
Eight years ago, Zimmerman played a lead role in founding Art on Easy Street, which once again Saturday attracted art, craft and food vendors; live music and dancing; and various “Family Fun Day” stations for children to create their own works of art.
Zimmerman died Friday morning after an illness, and the Rowan Arts Council, for which she had worked tirelessly in the past, dedicated Saturday’s festival to her.
“Physically, she would not have been able to be here,” Shirl Hull, coordinator for Art on Easy Street said Saturday, “but she’s here in spirit today.”
In 2008, the Arts Council established the Zimmerman Award, also known as “The Zimmy,” as an annual recognition to a volunteer who contributed significantly to the arts in Rowan County.
She also had received a “Lifetime Service to the Arts” award for her outstanding volunteer service to the arts and contributions to the quality of life in Rowan County.
“She was instrumental at one point to keep the Arts Council alive,” Hull said, recalling when Zimmerman had to step in as an interim executive director and president to help keep things going.
Hull said it was fitting that so many of the performers Saturday were youth, because Zimmerman was a lifelong educator.
Except for rain, which diminished the early crowds, Art on Easy Street worked with a precision that would have made Zimmerman proud. The Liberty Street stage went up quickly, performers were on time and vendors set up early.
“Everything has been running like clockwork,” Hull said close to 1 p.m. when it was still raining. “I just feel bad, of course, for the vendors, because they’ve come from near and far.”
Sunshine came pouring through later in the afternoon.
One thing the rain couldn’t put a damper on was the enthusiasm among children and their parents for the Family Fun Day art projects in the high-and-dry F&M Trolley Barn.
“This is the third year we’ve come,” Tanya Restar said while her children, Isabella, 3, and Tristan, 5, colored and cut paper on one of their projects. “It’s a free day to spend with your family, and it teaches them to appreciate art.”
The beauty of it, Restar added, is that they can duplicate some of the projects at home, besides returning home each year with their new creations.
“This is our first year coming here, and it has been great,” Meredith Sullivan said, while taking a break with her 3-year-old daughter, Mollie, and waiting on the rain to let up.
“We sort of came for this. I hope to venture out, but with her, you only have so much time.”
From her tote bag, Meredith pulled out some of the things Mollie had worked on, including a balloon sculpture, an artsy hamburger and a pipe-cleaner sculpture.
Joan Zimmerman would have been proud.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.