Springfield’s First Friday Art Walk of 2020, with 11 participating locations displaying art by and for the citizens of the community, was held Friday, Sept. 4. With the difference of social conventions due to COVID-19, Art Walk sponsors asked that visitors follow mask ordinances and utilize public sanitation stations, as well as practice social distancing when possible.

Held on the first Friday of every month, Art Walk allows participating vendors and locations to display their artistic creations to the Springfield public. Patrons from around the city gather to view art, listen to live music and peruse crafted works from local artists.

In previous installations of Art Walk, vendors would set up booths and displays on the sidewalks. This year, participating vendors set up their displays inside their stores, allowing people to view the art in a safe distance from each other.

One such example is the Hotel Vandivort on Walnut St., featuring their permanent collection of artworks. Hotel Vandivort displays a variety of mediums, from abstract paintings to large and small-form sculptures, as well as a prized glass work seen in their lobby bar.

Another long-time Art Walk vendor, BookMarx, displayed a collection of photographic works in their building. From the portfolio of local photographer Chad A. LaBelle, a series of photographs printed on canvas can be viewed in the bookstore’s annex. Viewers of the artworks could enter a drawing for one of LaBelle’s prints. The winner will be revealed Sept. 30.

Outside of displayed arts, multiple locations present live music. Park Central Square showcases the works of musicians, while Hold Fast Brewing features the musical stylings of several country/folk artists.

Emma Renfroe, sophomore art and design major, said Art Walk is a nice way to support local artists and get a taste for a wide range of artworks.

“As an art major, I think it’s important for any artist to expose themselves to other artists and mediums outside of what they might be used to,” Renfroe said. “The Friday Art Walk is [a] great experience for anyone, despite their experience with art. It’s a great opportunity to hang out with friends and explore downtown Springfield,” Renfroe said.

Following a four month hiatus due to COVID-19, Art Walk returned on August 7, with nine participating locations. With the fall semester having started since then, more members of the Springfield community are able to view local art.

Avery Parrish, Director of Communications for the First Friday Art Walk, said Art Walk strives to provide relief and a creative outlet for the community. Parrish explained that the future of the Art Walk depends on the community’s response to it.

“As we move forward through the year, we continue to gauge comfort levels, public participation, and the health and wellness of our city,” Parrish says. “Our goal is to provide a safe and artful event that has flexibility for everyone to participate in.”

Information pertaining to Art Walk can be found on their website, ffaw.org, as well as the First Friday Art Walk Facebook page and Twitter, @ArtWalkNews.

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