SummerNight Art Walk aims to revive downtown Auburn

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By Emery Lay
For the Opelika Observer

Friday, June 11, marks the annual SummerNight Art Walk. The City of Auburn, in collaboration with the Jan Dempsey Community Arts Center (JDCAC), the Auburn Arts Association, the Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts and Humanities and the Auburn Downtown Merchants Association will be hosting the event in the downtown Auburn entertainment district.  The event goes from 6 to 10 p.m., rain or shine. 

The idea was born nearly two decades ago by Eric Stamp, owner of Stamp LLC, a t-shirt company in downtown Auburn. He worked with Sarah Custer, the Cultural Arts Administrator at JDCAC, who had the idea to revive downtown with an annual art walk. 

SummerNight works to highlight the talented artists within the Lee County community, while simultaneously promoting the uniqueness of downtown Auburn.  Live musicians, street performers and children’s activities will fill every street corner.

The night will feature The Student Section, a band comprised of students heralding from a variety of different universities. The members at JDCAC collaborated with Jeb Bushey from Magnolia Records to find the band and incorporate them into the night.

This year there will be a myriad of different art forms. Downtown will be the hub for independent ceramic artists, textile pieces, painted works, crochets and blankets. In addition, there will be potters from a large potting studio right here in Auburn.

Amy Kaiser, a studio tech at JDCAC, will be one of the featured potters this year. Other well-known artists who will be present include David Coleman, renowned for his antique photos, and Kelly Oslick, known for her abstract paintings.

Yet, SummerNight Art Walk will not be limited to traditional pieces of art alone.  Succulents, holiday yard signs and carved golf balls are just a few of the unique items that will be available. Animal lovers will be happy to know that pet portraits, dog clothes and a dog bakery will be a part of the night’s extensive repertoire.

Alcohol ink will also be available as a unique, hands-on experience for anyone who desires to try it. This art form is rooted in a rare process, whereupon the artist lays down a layer of the special ink on tile or glass, then overlays it with a layer of alcohol to craft a watercolor effect.

During the event, downtown merchants and restaurants will remain open for regular business operations. Some shops and dining options are offering special discounts to celebrate the night.

Bakers will also be present, lining the streets with delectable treats such as macarons, Amish cheeses, cupcakes and cookies. For those who enjoy baking, there will be a Love and Lemons Culinary Contest open for entry until the day of the event.

The contest is free to enter and cash prizes will be awarded to the top spots. Entries may be sweet or savory.  To apply, simply fill out the application found on their website at www.auburnsummernight.org.  Four individually wrapped servings must be brought to the committee at the JDCAC for tasting either on Thursday, June 10, from noon to 8 p.m., or Friday, June 11, from 8 to 11 a.m.

Prior to the event, there will be a starting line party and subsequent parade beginning at 5:00 p.m. on Pebble Hill. The event is free and open to all ages.  There will be music, popsicles, face painting and two children’s craft activities, including hand shakers and lemonhead hats.

At 6 p.m. participants form a line to parade down to Toomer’s corner.  The Lee County Humane Society, Variations Dance Studio, East Alabama Ballet and the City of Auburn pools are just some of the businesses that will joining. Participants are encouraged to decorate their strollers, toy cars or other accessories.

“If it’s a family that wants to join, they just show up at five o’clock and they can begin our parade,” Emillie Dombrowski, an Art Education Specialist at the Arts Center, said. “If there’s a company that wants to join, it’s free. They just have to let me know, so I know where to put them.”

Once the parade reaches the downtown area, there will be buckets of sidewalk chalk for people to decorate the streets with.  This adds a personal, communal touch to the annual SummerNight Art Walk. 

For more information about the night, the JDCAC can be reached at (334) 501-2963.

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