This Saturday marks the final day of ArtWalk’s Summer on the Streets. Vendors and musicians will pack the breezeways off Main Street one last time for mini art markets and pop-up concerts. Capping off eight weeks of Summer on the Streets will be the return of Longmont’s chalk art festival, dubbed ChalkMont.
Following the trend set by the previous year’s ArtWalk, the festival moved to weekly events to bring the community together in a way that could be conducive to public health and safety during the pandemic. With more than twenty vendors and a half dozen musicians each week, Longmonters have come out in droves to check out each week.
Only one of the weeks was cancelled due to weather concerns, according to Firehouse Executive Director Elaine Waterman, though the lightning storms never reached Longmont. Beyond that, Waterman considers the Summer on the Streets a success this year.
“I think that with the pandemic being so challenging for artists and musicians, it was definitely worth it for the past two years,” Waterman said. “In 2020, it was to draw people back downtown and invigorate the community that had been stuck inside.”
For 2021, Waterman felt it helped support the creative community as the pandemic continues. Waterman would check in on artists each weekend and heard a lot of positive feedback from vendors. Even as foot traffic fluctuated with summer travel and other events, Waterman felt that the event served the purpose of celebrating arts and reconnecting with the community.
Xia Laniel brought her ultraviolet artwork to Summer on the Streets this year, setting up her booth each weekend. Posting up at the weekly market was a new experience for her, one that she’d be interested in repeating the following year. Laniel appreciated the opportunity to not only sell her blacklight inspired artwork, but to engage with the community and other artists.
Getting a feel for the crowd, meeting new people and putting her artwork out in the world made the whole experience worthwhile for Laniel. Having an interactive component ‒ Laniel’s work has details that are only revealed under ultraviolet light – helped bring people into her tent and connect with the art. A box with a blacklight sat on the table in the center of the tent.
“People would kind of just mosey by until I asked them if they wanted to see what was in the box on the table,” Laniel said. “They were a little iffy at first, but the kids especially loved it.”
Joyanna Gittings missed a couple weeks for a family vacation, but has otherwise had her Obra Arts tent set up behind the Roost every week this summer. Gittings, who is also a committee member for the Longmont Creative District, enjoyed being out in public with her art on display. Gittings noted that she sold more of her smaller works than larger paintings due to the nature of the market.
“Because it was weekly, it was more expected. People knew something was going on as weeks went on. The first week was pretty slow and nobody really knew it was going on, but in subsequent weeks I saw some folks that had seen me previously come back and purchase things. The ongoing nature was useful in that way,” she said.
For Gittings, the weekly market took a lot of effort. Running her booth herself required a lot of set-up and teardown for the elaborate booth proved a little taxing, though Gittings felt the effort was outweighed by the public reaction and bringing more art to Longmont.
“Overall, these are really positive experiences for me,” Gittings said. “I love being out and getting interaction that I wouldn’t get just sitting in my studio.”
Gittings was interested in participating again if it were to happen again, but was interested in better marketing and signs directing people to the mini markets. Laniel was also enthusiastic about participating in future ArtWalks, but noted that the breezeways could get crowded and made it difficult for foot traffic to get through.
Capping off Summer on the Streets on Saturday will be the return of ChalkMont, with more than a dozen artists turning concrete into canvas throughout the afternoon and into the evening. All along Main Street, local artists will create street art as part of a juried competition. Visitors to ChalkMont cal also levy their opinion for the People’s Choice Award by voting for their favorites on ArtWalk’s Facebook page.
“There are professional artists, students and community members creating art on the sidewalk. It’s a celebration of what chalk art is, from start to finish seeing someone create a work of art on the sidewalk,” Waterman said.
Coinciding with Summer on the Streets and ChalkMont, there will be a balloon pop fundraiser at the Firehouse on Saturday and a sticker-making contest to celebrate the upcoming 150th Anniversary. All designs for the sticker competition are due on August 25th. The winner of the competition will have stickers printed by Longmont’s StickerGiant, which will be given out at the big September 11 block party on Main Street.
Laniel and Gittings will both return for the 150th Anniversary celebration and ArtWalk block party on September 11, along with dozens of vendors, sponsors and musicians.
“It’ll be more like a typical ArtWalk, where we’ll close down Main Street from Third Avenue to Longs Peak Avenue,” Waterman said. “We’ll have a couple super cool things in this awesome event.”
Partnering with Art in Public Places, there will be an official opening of the 100-year time capsule during the day. ArtWalk will also have a local metalsmith on hand to make a new time capsule out of donated bike parts and scrap metal and a community art canvas that will be added to it so that residents can put their mark on Longmont for the next hundred years.