If you’ve been looking for a summer event that will bring some community and art into your life but don’t want to go indoors, the Allied Arts Council hears your call.
Unveiling its lineup of pieces for the 2020 St. Joseph Sculpture Walk, the organization is laying claim to an event conducive to social distancing.“Even though things have opened up, we still carry our masks with us and we do those things to protect ourselves. This is a way that people can consume art very safely, so we’re really excited about that,” Teresa Fankhauser, executive director for the Allied Arts Council, said.
From an owl to a seal to a barrel of monkeys to a statue that doubles as a musical instrument, the sculpture walk will feature a variety of pieces for people to engage. The Allied Arts Council will be hosting two grand opening walks at 5 and 6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 25. Social-distancing measures will be in place, and Fankhauser, who will lead the walk, will be using a microphone to talk about each piece.
“This year, I will say that a lot of the art is very kid-centric. You know, a lot of animals and warm, fuzzy (creatures). They’re cute. You want to cuddle with them,” she said.
Of course, cuddling with a sculpture likely doesn’t follow proper safety measures and might look odd to the outside world. But Fankhauser realizes the irresistible nature of a zebra, fluttering butterfly and a “Mary Poppins”-like umbrella.
The 17 new pieces will be on display throughout Downtown St. Joseph, near local businesses looking for people to check them out on the tour. Fankhauser said she hopes it will cause a bump in business for stores and restaurants around the area.
“Once people come down here, they’re going to stop in and get something to drink or a bite to eat or shop at one of our stores, one of our boutiques that’s Downtown. It’s not just having to see the sculptures. It’s also been really enjoying all that Downtown St. Joseph has to offer,” she said.
For the past three months, there’s been a severe lack of that kind of foot traffic, Fankhauser said. While the Allied Arts Council remained busy during the COVID-19 shutdown, members of its staff often were coming to a desolate Downtown.
“One time I went for a walk ... I went around the block and there was nobody. (Everyone) was just gone. It’s like all of the people had just been lifted and taken away. So that was a little disconcerting,” Fankhauser said.
While other sculpture walks around the country canceled their events for the year, Fankhauser saw an opportunity to bring some life and color back to the Downtown area. The artists featured were overjoyed at the opportunity.
“We have to continue moving forward with things. So this was like ‘The only thing we have to worry about is making sure that people are safe while we’re installing them and people can enjoy the sculptures, so let’s, let’s make this happen,’” she said.
The walks are free to attend, but are limited in capacity and require people to sign up by going to www.facebook.com/StJoeArts or calling its office for more information at 816-233-0231.
As always, the walk will be asking people to vote on one of the 17 pieces, with a winner to be chosen for the People’s Choice award. Only one vote per person and voting closes on Jan. 31.
Fankhauser said it will be good to see people getting out again and enjoying art around Downtown.
“It’s always a reason to bring your kids and the grandkids. It’s so much fun to watch parents and grandparents bringing their kids down to see the art,” she said.