A decade of Art & Wine Strolls on Market Street….and still going strong!

It’s hard to believe that 2020 marks ten years of producing the Art and Wine Strolls! In the earliest of Celebration, a juried Spring Art Festival was offered for a few years. Since these large art events are no longer offered, I believed it was essential for the culture and vibrancy of our community, to keep the strolls going; most important, these strolls help support the broad talents of our local artists (and may even inspire others!).

So, how did they come to be anyway?

There used to be a group of artists in Celebration that met monthly. Patti Fitzgibbons headed this small group for several years. When Patti no longer wanted to lead the group, I volunteered. I tried bringing in guest artists for demonstrations, we had some life drawing sessions, and we maintained a small group. Soon, I wanted to hear what the artists themselves wanted; so I arranged a meeting at Town Hall. We had a group of 25 artists, all gathered in a circle. I asked, “If we are to have an artists group, what is it you’d like to have?” Out of it came a suggestion from Lorraine Turner, one of our senior talents in town; she had been to a couple of art strolls in the region, and thought we should do it here. Everyone loved the idea! We had our first couple of art strolls on Bloom Street, from Starbucks to the hotel. We had entertainment from Barbara Bowers’ Celebration High School drama group and music from the school’s jazz band. It was great!

We decided that we were onto something; the artists loved it and the community loved it. However, we felt that it needed to be larger. So, I met with Mike Nunez from Lexin Capital, who manages the downtown business properties; he provided permission to run the art strolls three times a year on a Saturday evening on Market Street.

What’s it like?

We have room for approximately fifty artists at each art stroll. They line both sides of the street, and sell a wide array of arts and crafts. The primary rule is the art must be handmade by them or someone they know. With these artists, we find a large representation of art: we have jewelers to suit every taste, unique pottery, stylish wooden pens and tools and boxes, funky signage, upcycled furniture, and metal works. There’s photography on cards and coasters, leather purses and pocketbooks and sometimes clothing or woven goods. And sometimes we have special pottery made by our middle school students – what a treasure!
Alongside the artists, there’s always live music at the island end of the street by the fountain. The Wine Imperium sets up with wine and sangria sales. We’ve also got Sweet Cheeks, our face painter, and usually a caricature artist and maybe a couple of food product type vendors.

With these Art and Wine Strolls, a core group of returning artists returns over and over; some of these stop attending and new artists join the fray. I’ve watched new artists become so popular they have booths at Epcot and also sell their crafts in shops all over the country.

With the popularity of these events, we have grown from three annual art strolls to five a year. They always are from 5-9 p.m. on a Saturday evening. Typically, we offer one in early October, and others monthly from January through April. The summer heat, afternoon rains and light traffic are not conducive to offering these during the summer.

What are you waiting for?

If you haven’t come yet (or recently), please do so! It’s a lovely, intimate and easy to attend – for an hour or so. Watch for the dates in the Celebration News magazine, fliers around town and Friday Flash.
Hope to see you there!

Meryl Rachlin

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