ArtWalk 2021 Goes from Virtual to Reality

Housed in the Jones Building, Objects of Desire offers everything from silk flowers to handmade jewelry and humorous socks. Photo by Barbara Lockard.

The downside of the Friday, May 7 ArtWalk is that you won’t get to enjoy the entire evening sitting at home in your pajamas. The upside is that the semi-annual, downtown event is back in an in-person venue, complete with visual and performance artists, exhibits, special dining and retail offerings and familiar faces!

Starting decades ago as an informal celebration of the Findlay Art League’s May and November show openings, ArtWalk has evolved into downtown Findlay’s premier cultural event, drawing thousands of locals and visitors. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ArtWalk “went virtual” in 2020, featuring performances and demonstrations streamed live and video tours of studios.

As in the past, several restaurants are featuring displays and demonstrations by local artists.  Photo courtesy of Visit Findlay.

Danielle Wilkin, community relations and development director, Visit Findlay, says ArtWalk 2021 will provide an opportunity for people to enjoy an evening out as well as some online studio tours and performances.

Findlay’s iconic Jones Building, S. Main and W. Crawford Streets, is the epicenter of ArtWalk, housing the Findlay Art League (FAL) at street level and 22 art studios on the second floor. FAL will host the opening reception for its May Member Show starting at 5 p.m. and local artists will open their studios from 5-9 p.m. The open studio format gives the public an opportunity to meet artists who work in acrylics, watercolors, oils, pen and ink, clay and photography. Several will offer their artwork for sale.

“For me, it seems very important for the artists to have a relationship with the community.  We want residents of Findlay to be aware that they have a community of artists here, not just so we can sell artwork, but because the arts play an important role in the structure and functioning of a healthy community,” says long time Jones Building artist Philip Sugden.

Sugden, professor of studio art at Bluffton University and co-producer of two prize-winning documentaries, will also have an exhibit at the Marathon Center for Performing Arts that evening. Luckily, the two venues are just a few blocks apart!

Shop and Dine Along the Way
An evening downtown isn’t complete without shopping, and Paul Sears, owner of Objects of Desire, is gearing up for a crowd at his unique art and gift shop. Now housed in the gallery of Findlay Art League, Objects of Desire moved from its Front Street location last summer. Sears offers works by local and regional artists, organic teas and what is probably Ohio’s largest collection of humorous socks! ArtWalk visitors can stop at the shop while attending the May Member Show opening reception.

Geographically, ArtWalk reaches from the Hancock Hotel, 631 S. Main Street, north to the Main Street Bridge (although some businesses outside the area will celebrate the evening as well).

Located at 200 E. Main Cross Street, the Marathon Center for Performing Arts will host “Inland Empire: Recent Work by Artist, Philip Sugden” and an exhibit of turn-of-the-century watercolors by well-known Toledo artist Walter H. Chapman. Kelda Heitkamp, outreach coordinator, adds that a brief ceremony honoring James D. Smith, the 2021 inductee into Fifth-Third Bank’s Wall of Fame, will also be held.

Although plans are still in the works, businesses hosting visual and performance artists include the Hancock Hotel, Coffee A’mici, Logan’s Irish Pub and Alexandria’s. Brix, a collaboration between The Bistro and Stix restaurants, will host several visual artists at its 411 S. Main Street location.

Since you can’t tell the players without a scorecard, maps listing the evening’s activities will be available at several stops around town including the Hancock Hotel, Findlay Art League and Jones Building Studios. Masks will be required at all locations and social distancing protocols will be in place.

For updates and more information, stop by or check out VisitFindlay on Facebook.