Onlookers mingled with artists and musicians in downtown Elkhart on a muggy but ultimately rain-free evening to support local businesses.

The fourth ArtWalk brought people out to downtown Elkhart.

Posted on July 19, 2012 at 1:00 a.m.

ELKHART — The rain that had come earlier on Wednesday held off as people gathered downtown for the fourth ArtWalk. And though the weather was hot and humid, people came.

The ArtWalk was put on by Downtown Elkhart Inc., while SoMa sponsored the SoMa Neighborhood Celebration that included tours of downtown lofts and a vintage auto display. Painter Donielle Boal was one of 11 artists stationed at local businesses. This was the second ArtWalk that Boal has participated in, but one of many that she has attended.

“I appreciate the fact that they’re trying to bring culture back to Elkhart,” she said. Boal said she normally likes to go around and see what other local artists are doing. As a children’s book illustrator, her fine art is mostly something she does as a hobby.

Doni Funkhouser, owner of vintage shop ModCloset, has also participated in past ArtWalks. While she said the store was not busy as it had been in the past, she was still happy to see people out in downtown. Funkhouser said these kind of downtown events are important because they draw a certain crowd that businesses don’t normally see.

“That’s kind of our way to introduce people to what’s down here,” she said.

For Mike Huber, president of Downtown Elkhart Inc., that’s the point of ArtWalk and other events — to get people downtown who don’t normally venture out there. They also hope to showcase the local artists, stores, restaurants and other businesses that downtown has to offer.

“We want people to recognize and support those businesses,” Huber said.

Promotions coordinator Gina Leichty estimated that about 2,000 people came out on Wednesday. There will be two more ArtWalks this year, one in September and the other in November.

Lerner Theatre administrative assistant and volunteer coordinator Ranee Robinson was in charge of Wednesday’s Lerner Art Community Project, which encouraged people to take part in a splatter paint, a mosaic of the Lerner and finger painting. She said of the people who walked by, about 75 percent participated in it. Robinson said it was the communal aspect of the event that people responded to.

“Because this is a community project, you’re one of the artists contributing,” she said.

For Boal, one of the reasons to have events like the ArtWalkis to get interested in art and music. She has two daughters who are artists and tries to teach them to express themselves through art.

“As far as art, music and culture go, there’s not enough of it in schools as it is,” she said. “It kind of gives them a goal.”


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