Downtown Sidewalk Art Show Returns

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Roanoke County artist Margaret Sue Turner Wright.
Roanoke County artist Margaret Sue Turner Wright.
Roanoke County artist Margaret Sue Turner Wright.

The venerable Sidewalk Art Show is back in downtown Roanoke this weekend for its 51st year. A fundraiser originally for education programs hosted by the Art Museum of Western Virginia, (now the Taubman Museum of Art), the Sidewalk Art show has been juried for the past several years. More than 160 artists of all stripes will exhibit and sell their works this weekend, Saturday, May 30, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm and Sunday, May 31, noon – 5:00 pm.

Retired Arts Council of the Blue Ridge Council employee, Yvonne Olson, chairs this weekend’s event.

“It started 51 years ago as a small show outside the main library,” recalls Olson, and “it grew from there.” Kirk Avenue and Elmwood Park were also two former venues.

Having a relationship with the new Taubman Museum enhances the Sidewalk Art Show, said Olson. “This year is especially exciting. [The Taubman] has raised the level … and brought an excitement to the cultural scene of the region, as well as to downtown Roanoke.”

Charlottesville curator and art consultant Leah Stoddard serves as the judge for this year’s Sidewalk show, which features artists from across Virginia, and elsewhere in the country. Awards will be presented for various types of paintings, mixed media, sculpture, photography, etc. “Its an informal jurying process,” noted Olson.

The Taubman Museum’s volunteer guild, over 100 strong, oversees the Sidewalk Art Show, which will take place on both sides of the City Market building (Wall and Market Streets), and along Salem Avenue to the Taubman. A 12-member committee “of very committed volunteers,” work year-round on the show said Olson, with 50 or so helping out at the event every spring.

“It’s a wonderful collection of art … something for everyone,” said Olson. “Many of them come back year after year.” This year, for the first time, a “fine crafts” category (pottery, jewelry, custom furniture pieces, etc.) has been added. Acceptance in the show meant those approving the artists (everyone must file an application to be considered) had to ensure the fine crafts were not production items. “It’s a fine line,” added Olson.

The Sidewalk Art Show is also a chance for novices to be exposed to fine arts as they stroll downtown, perhaps munching on hot dogs from the Roanoke Weiner Stand.

“Its open on the streets downtown, you can just saunter through,” said Olson. “It’s a great way to expose children to the arts also [and] hopefully find some things that you want to bring home.” Visit taubmanmuseum.org for more information.