July’s First Friday Art Walk brings crowds to North Topeka

Art. Music. Food. Local. All these words describe the First Friday Art Walk in the NOTO Arts District, and they are also the reason so many Topekans are finding their way there.

Friday July 6, four new businesses opened shop as well as the Veteran’s Park Entryway into NOTO. Yeldarb Gallery, Gravity Gallery, Mayking Cakes and Confections and Tobias Designs are the four that held ribbon cutting ceremonies.

“On behalf of the NOTO Board of Directors, we welcome these exciting new businesses to the NOTO Arts District,” said John Hunter and Anita Wolgast, co-chairs of the NOTO project. “It is so significant to have such high quality businesses joining the outstanding businesses already located in NOTO. Truly NOTO is ‘on the move’ as we also welcome two new business with ‘soft’ openings and look forward to their grand openings next month.”

Gravity Gallery and Shops, located at 822½ N. Kansas Ave., is a European-style gallery and market, and they held their ribbon cutting ceremony at 4 p.m. Tobias Designs is the first artist to join the Gravity family.

Gravity also hosts artists for the Artwalk and this month featured Gwen Troughton, a Washburn student minoring in art.

Troughton’s work includes paintings with acrylics and she also enjoys renovating furniture. Her focus in on her one-of-a-kind artwork is on serious topics such as war, and women’s struggles to be artists.

“I’ve been doing research on art students and 80% of art students are females but 70-80% of art shown in galleries are by males,” said Troughton. “Women have been written out of art history books and written off as musicians up until like the 1920s.”

One of her paintings is called “Cause of Death: Birth Defect.”  In it, is a figure of a woman giving birth, and the cycle of her life of under-appreciation.

“You are born a woman, there is nothing you can do about it, then later in life there is another birth cycle and the under-appreciation starts all over again,” said Troughton about her painting. “[For women] it’s a constant battle.”

Troughton’s work will be in the upstairs of Gravity through August 3rd.  She has a Facebook page with more information as well as photos of her art, at www.facebook.com/JLB8Studio.

The upper floor of Gravity is going to hold specialty shops and room to feature and artist every month. They hope to encourage entrepreneurial spirit and help with small business creation as well as further the arts district in Topeka. For more information check out their website at GravityTopeka.com.

Mayking Cakes and Confections celebrated their second location opening in NOTO, at 822 N. Kansas Ave., and held their ribbon cutting at 4 p.m. Mayking Cakes is a full-service artisan bakery, offering more than 100 cupcake varieties, cake pops, cinnamon rolls, custom cakes and other items available by special order. The bakery has decided to add its own line of fresh, baked-from-scratch artisan breads.

At 6 p.m. Yeldarb Gallery held its ribbon cutting ceremony. The 110-year old building at 909 N. Kansas Ave will showcase an eclectic mixture of art and antiques.”We are thrilled and excited to be part of the NOTO Arts District,” said the Bradleys who previously worked as Information Technology Project Managers for the Kansas Department of Transportation. “It has been a labor of love to restore this beautiful old building. We are working to preserve the integrity of the building and the neighborhood. We are especially proud of the beautiful tin ceiling and restored wooden floors.”

Every month NOTO is growing, and First Friday ArtWalk is not the only time when things are happening there. Every Saturday morning is the NOTO Saturday Market, which supplements the Topeka Downtown Farmer’s Market and features antiques and cultural foods. Check it out sometime. For more information go to http://notoartsdistrict.com, there is sure to be something for everybody.