Art Walk Holiday Market attracts thousands

By: Alanna Dvorak
UNC Staff Writer
the Durham VOICE

African shirts, abstract paintings, digital photography, wine-scented candles, vases and jewelry all could be found in the same place in Durham on Nov. 20 and 21, when almost 200 artists filled the Durham Armory to sell their wares.

The shopping crowd packs the house. (Staff photo by Alanna Dvorak)

The Durham Arts Council, in conjunction with Durham Parks and Recreation, hosted the annual Durham Art Walk Holiday Market.  The armory and the Durham Arts Council building housed most of the artwork, but stands were placed within walking distance throughout downtown Durham.  The event was supported by more than 15 sponsors, including both businesses and individuals.

The walk featured not only visual artists but also performing artists, including jazz and rock musicians, cheerleaders from the Durham Divas ‘n Dude and a Christian mime troupe.  The performers used the stage in the armory and attracted the attention of people browsing the visual artwork.

“I thought the performances were fantastic,” said Pierce Davis, who, along with his nephew, watched a performance by the jazz group Trio Tet.  “It was a great atmosphere for the kids.”

Durham has hosted the Art Walk since 1999.  The Durham Arts Council organized the visual art portion, and Durham Parks and Recreation orchestrated the performing arts.

Tina Chavis, a special events coordinator for Durham Parks and Recreation, has been working on the event for almost all seven months of her tenure, including finding the acts for the event.

Brevan Hampden of Trio Tet said the event was more laid-back than a typical concert or show. “It was an easy-going performance,” he said.   “It’s not quite like a concert.  We play a lot of different events, but this one was a totally different situation.”

Chavis estimated about 3,000 people attended the Art Walk this year, with around 2,600 attending on Saturday.

The Art Walk offered local artists an opportunity to promote themselves.  V. Cullum Rogers, a freelance caricature artist and editorial cartoonist for the Independent Weekly, participated in the walk for the first time after attending last year.  Rogers used his stand to draw caricatures for a suggested donation and to pass out fliers and business cards.  He said he drew about 60 caricatures and passed out 60 business cards.

“I enjoyed it; it was much better than I thought it would be,” Rogers said.  “More people were familiar with my work than I thought.”

Durham also will host a spring art walk April 9 and 10, 2011.  Organizers said they anticipate an equally successful event.