First Friday Art Walk brings families to tell their stories

Natalie Engler

First Friday Art Walk provided Topekans with local art on June 3 in the Topeka! Our Art’s District. Dozens of buildings featured artists and their work, crafts and other creative items.

The NOTO Arts Center participated with its gallery, the Morris Gallery. The Quincy Global Classroom Art Exchange Exhibit “Culture” was featured. Students of Quincy Elementary’s Signature Art School expressed eight studio habits of the mind they had practiced.

Kimberly Adam, Quincy’s visual arts coordinator and art teacher, first began this program as a way to build a foundation for what she thinks art is really about. She applied for a grant and was later awarded the grant.

Adam discovered the project online while searching for an exchange program for her students to participate in. She believes that students should understand that art class is not just a class that you go to. Children from all over the world create art and share it to better learn about each other and what art may represent to different people.

“Art is a universal language,” Adam said. “It is best that we communicate with our global peers and learn from these students.”

Many other businesses opened their doors to local artists and craftsmen wanting to share their work, including the space to display work and their mission to the public by being present and giving a talk over their work. One place that provided this space was the Yeldarb Art Gallery and Studios.

The gallery’s featured artist was Lola Williams, a local painter. Several of her paintings were abstracts, while others were realistic.

“Nature is my inspiration,” Williams said. “I feel very peaceful when I am around nature and I like to think nature is close to God.”

For Williams, she believes there is art in everything and everyone.

“It is in the clothes we wear, the food we eat, the cars we drive,” Williams said. “Everyone wants to see it.”

On the second floor of the gallery, the Creations of Hope Gallery is noted for displaying art by artists experiencing mental illness, focused on advocacy through art. The gallery presented an exhibit titled “The Visionary Spoon.” The exhibit was completed by three artists who transformed everyday objects into objects of wonder.

Kaw River Rustics is designed to display unique pieces of rustic furniture and home décor. There was also booth space for artists and craftsmen alike.

Photographers like Ken Ferrell and Phil Kemper had their work on display in the Kaw River Rustics. Their photos told stories of the wide plains of Kansas, the many animals and even the Capitol building in Topeka.

The Art Walk was made for everyone from all walks of life. They did not have to be art lovers to have a good time. There was music, food and the sense of home.

At the end of the day, Williams believes art is something that we leave behind in this world. Other countries do the same.

“It is the culture,” Williams said. “And it is part of our culture.”