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.”