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Makeshift gal­leries dec­o­rated the streets and shops of downtown Hillsdale on Sept. 17 for the annual Art Around Town. Thirteen artists from the college and com­munity dis­played their work in 13 local busi­nesses throughout downtown Hillsdale.

Red bal­loons marked the stores dis­playing art or sup­porting the event. The shops wel­comed people in out of the rain to see the vibrant dis­plays, where artists had dis­played their work to be sold or admired.

While the event fea­tured mostly city res­ident artists, it also boasted work from college stu­dents such as senior Sara Pezzella, who had her works dis­played in Gelzer’s Fur­niture. Pezzella is an art major at Hillsdale College and dis­played her work in spring 2016’s Art Around Town.

“I think it’s a good oppor­tunity for art stu­dents because there’s no entry fees,” Pezzella said. “There’s a lot less pressure than doing a gallery show or whatever, but you still get that expe­rience of dis­playing your art and inter­acting with your audience.”

For Pezzella, Art Around Town is the first step to showing her artwork to the world, and she plans to con­tinue to do so with Art­Prize in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She views it as a good way to get ready for the bigger shows.

“It’s kinda like being an artist with training wheels on,” said Pezzella. “It’s a nice expe­rience.”

Local amateur artists also took advantage of the oppor­tunity to display their pieces. Lori Ven­turini started painting four years ago, after exper­i­menting in Toasted Mud, a paint-your-own pottery studio.

“It’s like my inner child came out,” said Ven­turini. “Things come out of your paint brush that you don’t realize you have in you.”

Since she started, she has been very active in the studio making full sets of tableware for her family. Many of the pieces on display were for her son, who hates cats. Nat­u­rally, each plate fea­tured a cat.

One such plate fea­tured the style of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” while another assumed the tech­nique of LeRoy Neiman. On display as well was a set of African animals for her grandson all done in black and white.

“It has been great because this is a nice com­munity that really likes to meet people. I’ve met won­derful people in here painting. You can come in, sit down and just chat,” Ven­turini said. She also plans to go to Art­Prize with one of her pieces.

The owner of Toasted Mud, Jonna Macy, was excited about the effect of Art Around Town on her business. Toasted Mud is pri­marily a pottery studio but also offers classes for canvas painting. Macy hoped that the event would bring people to her business.

“It’s great exposure. I hope we have a lot of foot traffic coming in and out,” Macy said. “As far as the business itself — it just reeks of cre­ativity.”

Another local artist, Sherry Sodergren, dis­played her work in All Aboard Travel Inc., Hillsdale’s travel agency.  The large glass windows of the agency allowed foot traffic to see the paintings lining the northern wall.

Sodergren, a local artist who works in Mossey Library, takes one class at Hillsdale College each semester. As a local who is heavily involved with the college, Sodergren views events like Art Around Town as an oppor­tunity to foster a strong rela­tionship between the com­munity and college.

“I just think it’s great that the com­munity gets involved with the college,” said Sodergren, “The college is a big part of Hillsdale, and I think it’s a way to bring the two together in a good light.”