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Sidewalk Art Show Returns With A Twist

A Good Day’s End is a landscape painting by Margaret Dubois.

The 53rd Annual Sidewalk Art Show on June 4 and 5 will look a bit different this year – artist’s booths will be set up on both sides of the Taubman Museum of Art, and not down Market or Wall Streets, or in the grassy area behind the City Market building – due to construction at that site. (Booths will be set up as usual along Salem Avenue and in a  parking lot across from the Taubman).

Other than that, the fundraiser for the Taubman will have a familiar feel, as more than a hundred artists of different stripes get a chance to meet the public and sell their work. There’s also crafts for children in a “kids zone” and catered food for artists that will be provided by Norah’s Café – since they won’t be able to run into the City Market building for a quick bite to eat this year.

Yvonne Olson, a member of the Museum Guild, said the Sidewalk Art Show began very modestly, with just six artists outside the library on Jefferson Street. It moved onto Kirk Avenue, then to Elmwood Park before settling on “short Market” and Wall St. Sponsorships and fees for artist’s booths help raise money for the museum and did for its predecessor, the Art Museum of Western Virginia.

A new group of downtown sponsors (local vendors and restaurants) have been brought on this year. “We’ve been very pleased with the response,” said Olson, who gathered recently with a group of several participating artists to talk about the Sidewalk show, which supports educational and outreach programs at the Taubman. About 150 artists are registered this year said Olson.

Nancy Stark started painting watercolors “later in life,” and says she “hasn’t put down the brush since.” She’s been in most of the Sidewalk shows since 2000 and has learned to live with what often is unpredictable weather at that time of year: “It’s either very, very, very hot, or sometimes we’ve had downpours,” she chuckles.

Stark likes to paint pictures of trains and looks forward to having her booth set up alongside the Norfolk Southern tracks this year, on the back side of the Taubman. “They have evolved into very colorful, almost abstract [paintings],” noted Stark, who will often add bits of metal she finds along railroad tracks to her work.

Stark hears “lots of interesting stories,” about trains from people who see her work, retired railroad employees and the like, with her paintings evoking memories.

David Wertz is a metal sculptor, using discarded and scrap materials. High heel shoes and now horses are often the subjects of his work. Wertz had been out of the country for several years, traveling in southeast Asia and Nepal, and came back to town looking for a genre that could make him some money.

“I’ve been making horses for about 8-9 months now.”  He calls it “assemblage” and sells many of those pieces for $3000 or more. The response has been very positive. “You just never know what’s going to happen next in the art world,” said Wertz, who appeared at the Sidewalk show with his high heel shoe sculptures in the past but is back this year with the horses for the first time. “It’s been a learning experience.”

Finding scrap metal is more difficult these days but Wertz, who likes to use materials that are oxidized or have a patina, has become adept at tracking it down. He looks forward to meeting the public: “It’s a chance to bring it out of the studio and show people.”

Margaret Dubois works in pastels and enamels, and is a long time Sidewalk Art Show veteran. She has pieces at Gallery 108 downtown but doesn’t do many shows. She’s appeared at the Sidewalk Show since 1967, when it was on Kirk Avenue. “You see people you haven’t seen all year – and I get to explain what my work is and how it is done. It’s an educational venue for me as well.” An art major at Longwood, where she studied printmaking, Dubois began doing enamels on copper and started dabbling in pastels a few years ago.

Landscapes are her specialty – not surprising since she lives on a cattle farm in Botetourt County. She also visits other farms and snaps pictures – using them as a basis for paintings. Dubois jokes that she does the Sidewalk Art Show out of habit as much as anything these days: “I can’t imagine what else I would do that weekend.”

Prepare to see a wide variety of artists on June 4-5. “That’s the great thing about the Sidewalk Show,” said Wertz, “you get a venue where people may buy ten dollar art – or they may buy ten thousand dollar art. You really don’t know who is going to walk by.”


See for a link to information about the Sidewalk Art Show.


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