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Rail Walk Studios & Gallery celebrates 10 years

"All I was looking for was a place to create art. What I found was that and so much more.”

Rail Walk, then

Rail Walk, then

Submitted

When Marietta Smith began looking for an art studio in 2005, she was told to go see Randy Hemann of Downtown Salisbury Inc. “Randy and program director Betz McKeown were so enthusiastic and helpful. When I described what I needed (just a place to do art) they told me about the warehouses on North Lee Street and the plans a group had designed 10 years earlier to make that into an arts district to be called Railwalk.”

Smith and Hemann met with Glenn and John Ketner of Rowan Investment Company who own the warehouses and are long-time art supporters in Salisbury. After a lot of work and recruiting two more artists, Norma Velasquez-Frink and Jimmy Alston, Rail Walk Studios & Gallery opened its doors to the public in August of 2006 and hosted the grand opening in November. Ten years later, after doubling in size and tripling in number of artists, Rail Walk Studios & Gallery is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a homecoming exhibit and celebration party.

The Rail Walk Anniversary Celebration Party will be Saturday, Oct. 15 from 6-9 p.m. The exhibit runs through Saturday, Oct. 29. Both are free and open to the public. The party will be an opportunity to visit with current and past Rail Walk artists and see their art from thoughout the 10 years. Guests can enjoy light refreshments, including beer from new neighbor down the street, Morgan Ridge Rail Walk Brewery and Eatery, while enjoying the musical stylings of the band Far Too Gone followed by the soft jazz of Jimmy Alston. Alston, one of the founding artists, also performed at the very first Rail Walk opening reception.

Rail Walk Studios & Gallery is made up of individual artist’s studios and shared gallery, kitchen, and utility space. Artists are independent businesses who work together to create a supportive and productive creative environment. Over the 10 years, Rail Walk Studios & Gallery has held 28 artists ranging from age 19-80+ and from little experience to long-term professional artists. A common feeling among the artists is a sense of camaraderie and an appreciation of learning from each other. Jane Johnson, a past member from Clemmons, gives her experience at Rail Walk some credit for her feeling of confidence about her art. She believes that without having been at Rail Walk she may not have been able to approach the gallery in Emerald Isle which now represents her and where she will soon be doing a public art demonstration. Artist Patt Legg says of Rail Walk Studios, “I think of Rail Walk as my home away from home, calming, and the atmosphere restores my creative thoughts.” Says Marietta Smith,” All I was looking for was a place to create art. What I found was that and so much more.”

The artists of Rail Walk share the large galleries at the entrance and have played host to — along with their own group and individual shows — Rowan Cabarrus Community College, Plein Air Painters of Carolina, Campagna, Water Color Students from Rufty-Holmes Senior Center, Foster Family Artists, Jazzy Art and Poetry readings, Rowan Helping Ministries Honor Card Unveiling, Faithful Friends Fundraiser, Rowan Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Salisbury Inc, Susan Crouch workshops, Faces of Abundant Living and even a wedding reception. This will also be the fourth year hosting their Invitational Arts & Crafts Sales Show: Festival of Gifts.

Art in the anniversary exhibition includes (by date at Rail Walk): Marietta Smith – Oil on Canvas; Norma Velasquez-Frink- Ink on fabric; Jimmy Alston – Pastel; Annette Hall – Acrylic on board; Patt Legg – Oil on Canvas; Sharon Forthofer – Oil on Canvas; Carol Dunkley – Acrylic on Canvas; Karen Frazer – Cast wax sculpture; Cathy Sigmon – Colored pencil;Jane Johnson – Pastel; Ingrid Erickson – Cut paper; Rachel Lee – Embossed metal; Liese Sadler – Weaving; Kenneth Koskela – Watercolor; Keyth Kahrs – Acrylic on canvas; June Battle – Oil on Canvas; and Pamela Deal – Wood burning /ink dye on gourd.

Rail Walk Studios & Gallery is located at 409-413 N. Lee St.; open Thursdays -Saturdays 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission and parking are free. For more information visit www.railwalkgallery.com or call 704-431-8964.

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