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June 8, 2004 > Niles Art Walk

Niles Art Walk

Walk with Niles Artists on the First Friday Evening of Every Month

On one Friday evening of every month, artist doors swing open in the Niles District of Fremont to welcome guests who are interested in browsing and talking with a variety of artisans at work. Glassblowers, painters and bead workers are busy working at their trade while discussing their craft with visitors who can wander from shop to shop, often stopping for a bit of refreshment along the way. The event is scheduled for the first Friday of every month and draws a crowd that has the opportunity to not only see local artists in action, but sometimes glimpse the work of little known artistic talents that are blooming in our own backyard.

The Art Walk started last July when Judy Corrie of Corrie Glass asked local artists about starting a monthly venue for folks to visit Niles and drop in on some of the artisans located in town. A late night epiphany had challenged her to do something about bringing people to Niles to "take another look." How could the small businesses, especially artists and craftspeople, attract more visitors to their shops? Niles, a hotbed of talent, has an impressive "cluster" of artists but needed an ongoing program or event to attract public interest.

Donna Sanson, a local artist, agreed to help by opening her studio and displaying not only her work but that of promising students as well. Teresa Hardy, Ed Frakes and Rosie Long all thought it was a good idea and agreed to help. After several attempts of holding the event on different nights, it was found that Friday nights were best. Judy says, "Many people have made solid plans for Saturday night, but often are looking for something interesting to do at the end of the work week and Friday night tends to be less structured."

A "core" group has devoted this special Friday evening to the "Art Walk" and welcomes guests to come by to look at their work, discuss techniques or just browse at their leisure. Rosie Long of Kiowa Rose Jewelry demonstrates her art and displays beadwork, letting others know how they can do this too. Ed Frakes or Ed of Niles Artwork always has something unusual to share and Donna Sanson shares her watercolors and student artworks at the Empty Nest. For those who want to sit with a good cup of coffee and a sandwich while enjoying interesting local art, a visit with Han Trinh at the Nile CafŽ is a welcome break. Art Walk evenings are also an invitation to visit the Fremont Art Association gallery where the local art co-op displays a variety of local artists works in many different media.

These informal "Art Walk" evenings often include music, guest artists, and hands-on art activities for visitors. All participating locations are open from 5 to 8 p.m. on the first Friday of each month and share their talents through demonstrations, displays, and discussions. The purpose of the Art Walk says Judy, is "to have a good time, make people aware of the positive changes in Niles and realize that there is a large collection of artists in town in addition to the antique shops. The combination of antique shops and artists is a good thing." She adds that the response has been very good and the hope is to include as many local guest artists as possible. The atmosphere is always warm and friendly and the price is right - free!

The Niles Art Walk will not only introduce visitors new to the Niles scene, but also highlight local artists who many not currently display their art in a gallery or work in relative obscurity. There are usually some interesting surprises for participants of the walk. There is not set schedule or demonstration time, encouraging informal discussion and information exchange. As an example of what visitors may expect on a Friday evening walk, during the month of May, Donna Sanson hosted a special exhibit entitled, "Legs and More" or "Toe to Toe". Her student artists used a single photograph as a reference, yet each painting was unique.

June's guest artist at Corrie Glass was Teresa Hardy who displayed decorative home art and Judy says a potter will be coming to the Walk in July. She quips, "We never know what is going to happen until the last minute, but that is part of the fun of the Walk."

The May Art Walk also showcased the work of a 12 year old artist, Elaine Schroeder, who has a phenomenal ability to sculpt with polymer clay. Her talent was discovered when during recuperation from surgery, she was asked to mold clay as therapy. According to her mother Liz, Elaine initially formed some basic figures, but showed no inclination to model people.

During a visit to Corrie Glass last winter, Elaine watched Wayne Corrie work with glass and admired glass beads that he had created. Her interest was so genuine that Wayne told her that she could take one of her choice. Elaine was overjoyed and on the return home told her mom that said she wanted to do something to thank Wayne. Her idea was to mold a likeness of Wayne and his dog so it looked like they were working with glass. When she created the sculpture, her family was floored! The sculpture was wonderful and when Elaine brought her gift to Wayne and Judy Corrie, they were astonished by her thoughtfulness and talent.

The floodgates opened on Elaine's talent and soon she was creating masterpieces for friends as birthday presents or thank-you gifts. Each of the sculptures took an aspect of the subject and was amazingly detailed. Liz says that Elaine does not use sketches but rather, "sees the figure in her mind." Although the rest of the family has shown creative abilities, Elaine's creative talent had lain dormant until the clay figures appeared. Her mother says that Elaine's attention to detail is not surprising since Elaine has always loved people and since age 10, has been helping serve ice cream to seniors at Carlton Plaza on Saturday afternoons. Liz says that her daughter "loves people and notices little things." Visitors to a recent Art Walk were able to see a display of this budding artist's works.

Interesting themes are scheduled on each of the walk nights and visitors of all ages are sure to find something to fascinate and inspire their own artistic talents. A warm summer evening is the perfect time to stroll along the streets of Niles and experience the talents of the Art Walk artists. Maps can be picked up at Corrie Glass, 37683 Niles Blvd. For information, call 793-8782

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