Downtown Elkhart gives “The Gift of Art”

Elkhart ArtWalk takes on a Christmas theme Wednesday.

Posted on Dec. 6, 2012 at 12:00 a.m.

ELKHART — A dip in the temperature couldn't deter art enthusiasts and curious patrons from the latest of Downtown Elkhart Inc.'s ArtWalks Wednesday night.

The chilly evening actually only served to enhance the Christmas feeling of the ArtWalk's theme, “The Gift of Art.”

Various shops and stores in the downtown area again opened up their businesses to local artists wishing to showcase their work, while also showing off some their own products and festive decorations.

And even if ArtWalkers did get cold, several small fires were set up along Main Street to help them warm up.

Gina Liechty, who is in charge of marketing and promoting the ArtWalk, said there were steady crowds of people throughout the night. She added that downtown businesses appreciate the increased foot traffic the event brings, as well as the retail activity.

The Lerner Theatre got involved as well, offering a 7:30 p.m. performance of “Miracle on 34th Street.”

“It's (the ArtWalk) a nice way to tie in the Lerner,” Liechty said. She explained it's always advantageous for Downtown Elkhart to involve the Theatre, as it already fits in with the artistic motif and provides another place for ArtWalk patrons to experience.

For first-time ArtWalk participant Andrea Salinas, the chance to display her creative work was the biggest draw to the event. Her graphic design pieces were set up inside Matzke Florist and said there had been a good flow of people through the store the first hour.

“It's really cool to be welcomed into the community and show what I do,” the Mishawaka resident said.

Around 6:30 p.m., dozens gathered in the Civic Plaza to sing or simply enjoy a host of Christmas carols. The group huddled across from the Lerner and raised their voices in holiday favorites that could be heard down the street.

Kurt and Beth Bullard were enjoying wandering through the different displays, taking in the different artistic offerings and visiting with friends.

“It's nice to see people you never see,” Beth Bullard said, adding, “The art community has cool people in it.”

Kurt Bullard noted that it's good to see downtown Elkhart hold events like the ArtWalk to entice people to come see what's happening. “Elkhart downtown has tons of potential,” he said.

“We've really witnessed a revitalization of community,” Liechty said. “It reminds people of all the good there is downtown.”

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